Bertie The Saint
Larry Lilly's Letter Tuesday April 4, 2006
I admit to a less than idyllic educational experience, though my teachers really gave it a shot. The fact that I can read today is a testament to the tenacity of my older sisters who taught me to read prior to my entrance into the world of formal education. Having said this I move on to the acid test of my life and to identify the awesome power of Christ in my overcoming a besetting aspect of my life.
This humble testimony is unlikely to gain a spot for me on Jerry Falwell's TV program or even a slot during a Billy Graham meeting. But I assure you the angels know and so does the Lord.
Such was my lot in the lower Ed facilities that my fame preceded the arrival of my little sister, Mom's favorite, Bertie. Bertie followed my footsteps by one year. More than one teacher would read Bertie's name and ask, "Are you," and in mid question Bertie would offer, "Yes, I am his sister, please have mercy on me." From that humble confession and plea for mercy from the god of education, she received a free ride. Teachers who had attempted, mostly in vain, to instruct me, would say to themselves as they graded Bertie's pitiful attempts at being civilized, "Oh, she's Larry's little sister, she must be a saint in the making." Based on this line of philosophical reasoning, Bertie's report card always, and I mean always, caused mine to be the subject of much comment in the teachers lounge, really a small enclave in the hall by the uncooled drinking fountain.
The sign famous in those days, 'Whites Only' was not present, not due to any enlightenment on our part, but 'those' people went to George Washington Carver. Many were the teachers who remarked, parroting Mom's words, "I don't understand why Larry can't be more like Bertie." Or even more strongly, "I don't know how Bertie does it with a brother like Larry." To this very day, if you mention Bertie's name to any teacher who has survived the rigors of the long years, the response will be, "Oh, the poor thing, she did such a great job considering the shadow of her older brother Larry." One even thought about recommending her for the Nobel Prize. In retrospect I am sure several boys overheard the teachers and time has revealed they became more like Bertie.
I tell this humiliating fact of my family life in the hope that you can apply the powerful spiritual principles implied in the narrative, principles that not only empowered me to overcome the negative downward pull of a wise goody two shoes baby sister, but in fairness the principles that helped her to learn to use the fame, infamy would be her term, of an older sibling to rise above the unwashed masses and achieve a good life and family.
I wish the head doctors would just start telling people that the fact of your mother's tender though misguided love for a sibling is not grounds for your current pathetic behavior. I recommend the verbiage of Joan Rivers noted psychologist from the Tonight show: "Oh grow up." And to those whom Mom loved the most, you too, must grow up and accept the fact that life does not love you more. Bertie did well in this area. I still struggle, but Jesus gives me all the victory I will accept!
Larry Lilly Copyright © 2006 Use with credit.
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