King's Blooming Rose magazine's (http://kingsbloomingrose.com ) 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)