Let me preface this whole thing by saying, five years later, they are best friends. They spend all day, every day together and absolutely love it. They laugh together and plan together. They sing together and read each other's books so they can have book discussions together. One day, after they marry, they plan on having connected houses (some kind of walkway between the two). I'm sure their husbands will be thrilled.
Now how did we move from completely awkward dislike to completely comfortable love? Time and familiarity. It did not happen overnight. It didn't even happen over a year. It happened day by day, month by month, year by year. It was all about learning to live with each other and accepting the best that person could do that day.
In the beginning the best Ashley could do did not fit into Hannah's "ideal sister" mold. She had expectations and dreams of what it would be like to have a sister. She knew they would chat endlessly about all the things Hannah loved, because, of course, Ashley would love those things too! They were to be "kindred spirits" as Anne Shirley of Anne of Green Gables would say. Hannah's "ideal sister" mold left Ashley in a very tough spot. She had no way of meeting those expectations and, at the time, she didn't even want to.
What followed in the weeks after Ashley moved in was a lot of turmoil. Hannah gave it a good try in the beginning, but quickly wore down when she was met with so much opposition. Ashley was not like Hannah. Hannah was heartbroken. All those dreams of what it would be like to have a sister were ruined. It would never be what she hoped it would be.
Thankfully, it was to be even better!
Remember when I said everything in the beginning is a group effort? That's what turned the tide. No matter how much you dislike someone, you will eventually find something to appreciate when they are with you every.single.day! Plus, it did help that during that time Ashley's behavior was improving. She was learning to consider others and speak nicely. After the first two years things started to happen. Hearts softened toward one another. Relationships were built. Friendships were made. They have been going strong ever since.
Hannah is still the kid that receives 20 glow bracelets, snaps one and wears it that day. Ashley is still the kid that receives 20 glow bracelets, snaps them all at once and wears them all that day. It used to drive Hannah crazy, but now she knows it's all part of who Ashley is. There are no sidelines for Ashley. She is all in all the time. Hannah and I are different. We consider and plan. Our thinking sometimes leads to inactivity. We miss out on opportunities to serve because we aren't willing to put ourselves out there. Our glow bracelets sometimes go bad in storage and we're never able to enjoy them.
Ashley added something to our family that we didn't even know was missing. She added something we thought we would rather live without. She has had us out looking for missing cats, making scarves for kids in a children's home and visiting widows who like to tell stories from the past.
Hannah needs Ashley because she jumps at the chance to serve others and pays no mind to the details. Ashley needs Hannah because of those details. It's a beautiful match. One that only God could make.