Today is my sister’s birthday. Born twenty months after me, Melinda was my first friend. Opposites attract and we were opposites in every way. I was loud, she was quiet. She was tall, I was short. I was chubby, she was not. I never met a stranger, she tried hard not to meet anyone. She rarely spoke, I never shut up.

Tall and thin with golden locks and blue eyes that sparkled like diamonds, my parents skipped me and saved all their good-looking genes for her. Did my parents just hate me? Short, dark-haired, born wearing a plus size onsie, with hazel eyes reminiscent of a muddy algae infested pond.

I grew up thinking I was ugly. All I heard from people was how pretty Melinda was. No one ever told me I was ugly. They didn’t need to. I watched as boys lined up for slow dances with her while I stood like an outcast at middle school dances. I helped her carry arm loads of Valentine candy and vases of roses home from school sent by all her adoring admirers. I saw the way people looked at her, like they’d just witnessed a beautiful sunset or a rainbow after a summer storm, a thing of beauty. I saw the way they didn’t look at me.

I resented her. I was jealous of her. She was the pretty one and that made me the ugly one.

Years later, she told me she had been jealous of me, too. People always told her how smart and funny I was and if I was the smart one, that made her the dumb one. What? Her jealous of me. She was smart and pretty, was she crazy? How did she not realize that. She made grades just as good if not better than me. She must be delusional. How could she begin to think she wasn’t as smart as me? Her standardized test scores proved it. Teachers could verify it. How could she believe something so wrong? How could she see herself in that way?

How? The same way I had convinced myself that she was the only real beauty in our family. I had let the devil brainwash me into thinking that I was the girl version of the hump back of Notre Dame. I let the devil drive a wedge between us.

I wasn’t ugly just because she was pretty and she wasn’t dumb just because I was smart. The realization that we were both smart and pretty, each in our own way, healed a hurt we had long concealed. We had each believed a lie.

Truth is she is my best friend, her and my other sister Joanna. I am grateful for the friendship I share with each of them. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was a tad bit jealous of her tall, lean frame and jet black eyelashes.

What’d y’all expect? I ain’t Gandhi!

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.