“Jacob loved Rachel . . . [but] when morning came, it was Leah!” Genesis 29:15-28
Sister Wives. Jacob fell head over heels with Rachel – love at first sight. Laban, his uncle, promised that he could marry her as long as he promised to work for him for seven years. So, Jacob agreed, and the wedding took place. However, Laban hid Leah under the heavy veil, so that even in the dark, Jacob could not tell that his bride was not the one he intended. When Jacob discovered the deception, Laban made the excuse that the oldest daughter is always married before the youngest (something I’m sure my younger sister would have NOT liked since she was married MANY years before I was!).
As a result, Jacob had to wait a week AND promise to work for Laban for another seven years. At last, he was able to have his Rachel. Yet, all was not well in the Jacobean household. Rachel had trouble getting pregnant, and Leah, the neglected (and unwanted) wife, was pregnant soon and often. The two sisters were at odds with each other. Eventually, when Rachel did become pregnant, a competition began to see who could produce the most offspring.
I think I relate to Leah quite well. It’s not that I feel God blessed me or didn’t bless me more than anyone else. (Pregnancy was a sign of God’s blessing, so Leah qualified.) I always felt like the outsider. As I have grown older and hopefully more wise, I believe that it was always a self-esteem issue. Working on my self-esteem has brought me to a new understanding of God’s blessings, as well as the realization that comparing myself to anyone else is self-defeating. I am me, and God made me the way I am. I have grown in my relationship with God which then gives me a good grounding to stop the negative thoughts and reactions much more quickly.
Life has a way of toughening us up, and each time we come out of a negative situation, we are stronger on the other side. We need to be cautious about not letting ourselves become too guarded and cynical, too. Life in Christ can help us co-exist in this world with our brothers and sisters wherever they are. At times, we may not have much to do with someone, but we can still treat them with respect and kindness (as hard as that might be).
Eventually, Rachel and Leah co-existed and supported each other. Jacob, the once feisty and tricky fellow began to mellow and settle down (as any “good” patriarch is supposed to do, I guess!). The huge family that was spawned became a great nation – the nation of Israel.
My sister and I have grown much closer as we have grown up. There are seven years between us, so we really didn’t know each other all that well. It seemed like I was always into other things when she was little, and then as adults, we realized that we were missing something. We have become close friends, and in spite of the fifteen hundred miles between us, we continue to rely on each other for support and love.
Being sisters and brothers with all of God’s children can be challenging, but that is what we are called to be and do. May we work at finding ways to co-exist together, connecting with our commonality rather than our differences.