The “Master Plan”

My next youngest sister and I weren’t the best of friends growing up. In some ways, we were a lot alike, and I think the hostility that emerged between us was there, in part, because of the ways we were always being compared to one another.

Once I left home for college, the tension in our relationship decreased, and by the time she decided to attend the same university, I was excited for her to come. While we didn’t spend a lot of time together the two years our stays there overlapped, it was the beginning of a change in our relationship. My senior year, when I entered a severe depressive episode that nearly forced me to withdraw from school, my sister would go to the grocery store (one of her least favorite things in the whole world) in order to get me ice cream. During Sacrament Meeting each Sunday she would put her head on my shoulder so that she could make a cute response to my inevitable “that can’t be comfortable; my shoulder is very bony.” Tension was starting to be replaced with tentative explorations of support and encouragement.

I went to graduate school, she got married, and we kept in occasional contact as our lives drifted further apart. Then my brother-in-law decided to go to business school, and one of the schools he chose to apply to was the school where I was (and still am) attending graduate school.

The thought of having my sister and brother-in-law in town was really appealing (my tendency to socially isolate myself makes my life a bit lonely), and so I called my sister and told her that I had a “Master Plan” for her life. My “Master Plan”: my brother-in-law would get into the school I was attending, he would decide to go to business school there (he had applied to a few other schools), and they would move to the city where I lived. After that, they would decide to have a baby, and then my parents (who live only 4 hours away) would come visit all the time (it would be the first grandchild), and we would have lots of fun.

After much tense waiting, my brother-in-law was accepted at the business school here, and since it was his best option, they decided to come. A few months after he was accepted, my sister called me up and asked, “You remember that ‘Master Plan’ you had for my life?” My response was immediate and joyful: “You’re pregnant!” She confirmed my guess.

It’s now two years later, my brother-in-law has graduated with his MBA, and he, my sister, and my nephew moved this past month to a new location halfway across the country where my brother-in-law has begun a new job. I am missing them desperately.

During the two years they were here, I was able to slowly rebuild a relationship with my sister. I got to know my brother-in-law, a fun guy with lots of energy and enthusiam, much better. And I got to spend lots of time with my adorable nephew and more time with my parents, who came down quite often to visit their first grandchild. Since I live alone, it was nice to have someplace where I could just go hang out, have people around, and feel at home.

I don’t know what the “Master Plan” is for their new life. I don’t know what the “Master Plan” for my life is either. But I’m glad that for a few years, God saw fit to allow His “Master Plan” for all of our lives to cross more intimately than the occasional phone call and yearly family gatherings at Christmas. It was a “Master Plan” that really cemented a new relationship between my sister and I, and that reaffirmed to me the important role my family plays in my life.


  1. Amen to what M&M said.

    My “master plan” (which involved luring several siblings into moving to my part of the country) never panned out. Ah well. Maybe sometime in the future we’ll live close enough together that we can terrorize the local ward.

  2. There’s a saying (I’m sure I’m murdering it) that goes: “When humans make plans, the Gods laugh.” That’s how my life has gone.

    Isn’t it wonderful when reconciliation occurs? I believe that it happens most of the time, the problem is waiting for it. God never works fast enough for me.

  3. m&m, thank-you.

    Kiskilili, I think I asked Lynnette at one point if I could join you if y’all ever ended up in the same part of the country. 🙂

    annegb, you’re right that these things often happen in the Lord’s time (the process of reconciliation I described in this post has taken about 8 years or so). And I totally understand the impatience! I like to tell God what I have planned for my life, and while sometimes He agrees, sometimes He doesn’t (and sometimes I have to be very patient for things that I think should happen more quickly).

  4. I loved this post. I have one sister in particular that I wish could live in my back pocket–we both have six kids (eleven girls!) and we get along beautifully. It wasn’t always so–as children we got along well until she grew her own brain and realized she didn’t have to do everything I said. After I moved away to college we developed a new, mutually satisfying relationship that continues today.

    Of my ten siblings (a potentially explosive mix of step-, half-, and full), there are eight that I am just crazy for, and two that I love, but don’t care to associate with (and they, of course, are the two that live somewhat nearby). I’ve shared my Master Plan with them, which involves all of us pooling our money to buy a tract of land with a sledding hill, a grove of trees with a stream, a big a garden plot, wild blackberries, and riverside for us all to build houses on and play together. They smile, but won’t catch the vision. Sigh.

  5. S, I love your master plan. I’m so glad it worked out that way.

    Kiskilili, I’m still near tears when I think about all of our failed attempts to live in the same city–or at least in the same general area! The fun of a bi-coastal sea-to-shining-sea family is lots of great places to visit, but I do wish we could all live closer to one another, and to the adorable nephews. Like S., I tend to be socially isolated, and I don’t make friends very easily, which translates into whopping phone bills from talking to my sisters for hours and hours and hours. If we all lived down the street from one another, then we could take the kids off of our SIL’s hands for a few hours, or even a few days, we could get together to go to the movies or to play Settlers of Catan, we could go camping….ah, it’s too sad! Maybe someday a family Master Plan will succeed. (And of course S and Katya could be adopted into it!)

  6. Well, see, adopt me in too, and we could add Settlers games (do you play Carcassonne, too? My sis and I challenge each other with “I’m gonna leave your Carcass onne the Road!”), Battlestar Gallactica marathons, I-dare-you-to hair highlighting sessions, and JetSki races on the river. Ahhhhhh . . . . . .

  7. This vision is getting better and better! It’s sounding SO much better than graduate school today….what’s Carcassonne? I have been thinking about highlighting my hair just because I’m so bored with it, and I’d happily put it in your hands, Idahospud :>

  8. This is some rescue. When you came in here, didn’t you have a [master] plan for getting out?

  9. Idahospud, you’re adopted in!

    Just don’t tell me that Carcassonne is as gory as, for example, Starburst, in which one person tries to pull another person’s teeth out, or Mufasa, in which one person goes out of the room, turns into a lion, comes back in and devours someone. 😉 (Both games that a certain unnamed sister used to propose we play . . .)

  10. Princess Leia [sigh], I think that’s the problem with life, in a nutshell. We all come in tiny, naked, inarticulate, clueless, and without an escape hatch.

  11. I second the motion to adopt Idahospud and her sister. Anyone else who thinks he or she could stand living in close contact with the Zelophehad family may fill out an application.

    Kiskilili, you’re reminding me of some extremely long extremely strange family conversations that tended to happen on summer afternoons….

    And just for the record, I am NOT the sister who invented Starburst and Muafasa! I can just hear Amalthea saying in her most sarcastic, most disgusted voice, “You guys are SICK.”

  12. What??? I thought it was Lynnette for sure! (People who can’t bring themselves to write in their scriptures, you know. It’s a dead giveaway :>)

    I am so behind on my family folklore. Clearly, I need to drop out of graduate school and get caught up. (I’m sure that’s the only solution!)


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