Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Brothers = friends (or should!)

King's Blooming Rose magazine's ( ) latest theme was “How we treat our brothers”... in light of that and life here at home, I've been thinking much about how I treat mine. How much better it is and how much better it could be. For the record, some days are better than others. :-)

My relationship has improved drastically with my brothers. Actually, let me be more specific: my relationship with my brother Jesse has improved drastically and along with it, my relationship with my other two brothers is much better than it was with Jesse when he was their ages.

I remember an episode that happened when I was seventeen and he was nine that ended up with me picking him up and (amidst the flailing fists and feet and screaming that erupted from him) setting/dropping him down. The purpose? To prove that I was still stronger than he was and I could win the fight, if just by sheer force. I wanted him to respect my position as oldest sister and stop sassing off. Did it help? No. Did I do it again? Nope. He got too big.
Back then, I was sure the problems in our relationship was totally his fault. I mean, here is a little boy who thinks he's two feet taller and ten years older than he really is. He won't shut up. He's a bully. He's mean. Why did God give me a brother like him, anyway? Now, it is rather funny looking back but at that time, I was very frustrated.

As you may imagine, it wasn't only my relationship with Jesse that was difficult at the time. In fact, I wasn't getting along well with anyone except with my sister Ellie, a few friends and pen-pals. Life was not sweet. I was angry and frustrated because, except for the knowledge that God was my Savior, I felt empty. There was no satisfaction. And, surprise, surprise... things didn't start improving until I got my relationship with God on the right road. When that happened, my attitude started on that same road. And along with the change in my attitude, my relationships began smoothing out... the most dramatic change was that I wasn't enemies with Jesse any longer. We were friends. In fact, there was the happy day when Jesse began looking to me for advice. But that was not the beginning of the change.

Boys are “little men”, as Louisa May Alcott so aptly put it, but more importantly, they are people. People need loving. People need to be treated like they matter. Back when all there was was fighting, I didn't treat my brother like he mattered... except to clash wills with, of course. The change started slowly. It's hard not to sass back when someone says something mean to you. And it's even harder to turn around and apologize. But if you want God's will and you know that's what God wants you to do, it will happen. Because... “ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1 Jn. 4:4)
I started asking his advice about things. To my surprise, he actually knew a lot about stuff that I had no idea about. And he's very creative. You should see him work at the forge. He can make these hoof picks (for cleaning horses' feet out) out of half of a horse shoe. He has sold several at different functions and gatherings and has given many away as gifts. He is great with equipment. All you have to do is ask and he'll tell you all about it, if he knows. If he doesn't, he finds out and then tells you. He's also the funniest guy I know. I don't know of anyone else who has made me laugh so hard so many times. I want to marry someone who has his sense of humor. No, I'm not being sarcastic. :-) It really is surprising, for me, his sister, to find out how amazing my brother is.

He was surprised that I would ask his advice. In fact, at first he didn't want to give it because he was afraid I was trying to trap him. To my shame, I must admit that was about the only reason I would have asked him anything before. But he slowly started responding and finally there came the day when I realized... we weren't fighting much anymore. In fact, he hadn't said anything mean to me for a very long time. In fact, he was starting to respect my opinion. In fact... we were not only respecting each other, we were friends.

But it had to start with me. And it didn't happen overnight. But in spite of himself and the fear that I was only going to hurt him again (not physically, but emotionally), he began responding to my extended olive branch. He's fifteen now, going on sixteen, and he is maturing daily. It has been a joy watching him turn into a man... not just in height (he's no longer my 'little' brother!) but his knowledge and emotions and the way he treats his siblings and people he's around.

It's not perfect, of course. We, as human beings, aren't perfect, so how could our relationships be? There are days when one or the other... or both of us... will snap at each other and say things that we shouldn't... but we can laugh about it later. Most days, we actually like each other in spite of the other's mistakes. :-)

As I mentioned before, my improved relationship with one brother has spilled over to my other brothers. And not only them, but with my sisters, too. Emotionally, the girls are a entirely different ballpark than the boys but I've found out what it boils down to: loving them. That may sound simplified, but it isn't. Love has many different faces.

Ultimately, I have to seek God's will and truth and everything else falls into place. So those are my thoughts on how we, as sisters, should treat our brothers.

If you're too frustrated to read this entire post, go outside, dig a big hole (I mean really, really big.... so that your head can't be seen when you're inside), then fill it up. And if you're still too mad to read this, take a hammer to your brother's bicycle. (Just kidding.) :-) :-)

Here's the final secret to being friends with your brother: smile at him. Like you really mean it. It works.

“With God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)


Anonymous said...

I'm impressed with that article, and how much it showed me that I still have to learn too! I have one particular brother that I find it hard to get along with at times (and he's not even the oldest).
I admit I wrestle with thoughts such as you articulated, "He won't shut up. He's a bully. He's mean. Why did God give me a brother like him, anyway?"

I find it good practice though to dwell on all the things I really do love about him.
And I know that deep down he is trying to be a man, to grow into the person God would have him be someday.

bekah said...

Ouch, but thank you!!! :)One of my relationships is like what your's was, but by God's grace, one day I hope to be able to say we are friends. :) Keep me in your prayers?! Thanks. :)Hope you got my letters. :)

Naomi said...

Jac... thanks so much for sharing! It's comforting to know to I'm not the only girl to think those thoughts about my brother. And the struggle still goes on some days.

Bekah, we got your letters! I wrote one back today and made a CD of photos and a letter for the mag. Oh.. and speaking of the mag, I'm really impressed with how well this issue turned out.
I will indeed pray for you. ::hugs:: Relationships can be so hard but they are definitely worth it.

Ashley C said...

Yes, it does. I know! =)

Anonymous said...

Wow, I've had to learn a lot on the same issue over the past year. I have an older brother I'm next and so I'm the Big sister to the younger kids. Me and my older brother have always gotton along fine and are good friends.
But my brother 2 years younger than me now thats a different story. We have always butted heads over things that don't amount to anything. We are both a little to stubborn for our own good. I was always trying to MAKE him do things, It didn't work.
Last fall he had a hard time obeying Mom and I started seeing that maybe if I would talk to him in a more kindly way that he should obey Mom because she knows best maybe things would smooth out between them. it din't work at first But now we are good friends. Thanks for your Story.

Naomi said...

Dear Reader,

I thank you for your honest testimony. It warmed my heart. I hope that your relationship with your brother has improved immensely since you wrote... having a friendship with a brother (or sister, for that matter!) is one of the best things in my life.

God bless you and give you strength as you seek Truth.

Singing Pilgrim said...

I've often wondered what it'd be like to have a brother. I'm the middle sister of three daughters. It seems like a different relationship. To be honest, I'm a little scared of having sons. Little boys freak me out. I'd love them, but they're so much more apt to put themselves in harms way, I'm sure I'd be a nervous wreck.

Naomi said...

Having kids in general scares me. :) The responsibility is overwhelming at times. But I think God gives us grace for whatever happens in our lives. If you ever have sons, you won't even think about being a nervous wreck.