Summertime sans most pandemic-era restrictions means more glorious time with family members, including siblings. During a recent visit I was reminded that our brothers and sisters, not surprisingly, can help us think about God in new ways.

My sisters are my dearest friends. One is a soil scientist, the other a therapist. These women are compassionate, fun and smart. They love me fiercely. But they also have a special way, even in adulthood, of pushing my buttons — leading me to be reactive in ways I’m not proud of. It happens oh-so rarely, but the recent visit confirmed that yes, it still happens.

I brought up the dynamic with my sisters and they laughed and agreed it happens for them, too. Part of the reason is that there are old narratives we have in our heads about one another and those inform how we respond to different situations. Many narratives are accurate but some from childhood are no longer useful or correct (although I admit I can still be a tad bossy as the oldest, alas).

This pattern with siblings reminds me in some ways of my relationship with God. My narratives or views about Our Lord have been constructed since childhood. They’ve evolved over the years — sometimes radically so — yet some inaccurate views remain. They constrain my ability to understand God as awe-inspiring, tender, personal, infinitely loving and ever-present. I react to my life at times in ways that place unnecessary restrictions on God, shackling my understanding of him.

The best way to overcome my circumscribed view is prayer. I pray in order to give myself to God and to experience whatever subtle graces — and new understanding — that comes.

As for my sisters, I’ll try a bit of prayer, patience and good humor.