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Lessons Learned From My Sibling

Even though they may torment you at times, I now realize how much can be learned from siblings. I have an older brother, and my apologies to those of you who grew up as an only child…including my daughter. You may never know the full frustration, the intense exasperation, the anguished persecution, or intense pride and joy of having a sibling. And there are many lessons that may take longer for you to learn as an only child.

My brother was my first teacher. Most everything I needed to learn to be a better person, I gained from my experience with him. I just didn’t know it at the time! Who would have thought that his random acts of cruelty, selfishness, compassion, and love could help mold a life!

There are many things we cannot understand through the front windshield of life. But we can eventually see God’s fingerprints all over the rear-view mirror of our lives, especially in the gift of a sibling. Perhaps my words of gained wisdom may resonate with you as you contemplate the lessons I have learned from my sibling and how they have carried over even into my spiritual life.

Play with passion or don’t play at all. My brother is a great athlete and worked hard at every sport he attempted. I desperately wanted to play sports with him as I grew older, and I quickly learned that I must give it my all. That meant not crying when I played the role of catcher for him in the front yard while he was practicing his pitching, even though the mitt was thin, and the ball burned my palm. One salty tear trickling down my cheek would have been the end. The endless hours of shooting hoops at the goal on the front of the barn with him and his buddies…I learned you bring it all, or you don’t come to play. You practice, you give 100% every chance you get. It’s the same with anything in life, even my commitment to Christ. Bring it all…that’s what’s required. You can’t go half-way and realize the full benefits of anything.

Ask your brother to play. He won’t LET you win. Perseverance is everything! Siblings have a way of keeping you grounded in reality. We are going to lose sometimes in life. We are going to be disappointed, frustrated, maybe even angry. The same holds true with God. We may, at times, feel disappointed, let down, frustrated, and maybe even angry with God for things He has allowed in our lives. But never forget God loves His children and wants the best for them…even if that means allowing it to rain in our lives at times. He doesn’t promise that we won’t have trials. He promises to be there with us to help us through them.

Privacy is a fantasy. If you have had a sibling, you know that privacy does not really exist. I would sneak into his room when he wasn’t there to check out all his hidden secrets. Eventually, my brother put a padlock on his door. It is a reminder to me that I cannot hide things, especially from God. So, I might as well come clean right up front and ask forgiveness. He always knows my thoughts, for better or for worse. But He also knows my heart’s desires and is working for a plan for my good.

Always choose obedience. My brother goaded me into doing so many things that made my mom angry. And he did his own share of mischief. We watched each other get punished (more so me) and snicker. Sometimes we have to learn the hard way, especially with God. He will always, always, always honor obedience in your life.

They always have your back and love you, no matter how much they tease, lower your self-

esteem, or make fun of your faults. And my brother knows ALL my faults. Yet he protects me and loves me even knowing I am not perfect. God is like that too. He knows how very depraved I am at times yet chooses to love me. How great is that?

You don’t always need to go back for seconds, especially where old boyfriends or girlfriends or bad habits are concerned. My brother tried to recapture what he had with an old girlfriend he hadn’t seen in years, only to find out she wasn’t exactly as he remembered after driving 300 miles to reconnect. People walk in and out of our lives. No need to go back and try to capture what we had. There is a reason God separated your paths. If you meant to connect again, God will make a way. And the same holds true for bad habits. Definitely no need to go back to destructive habits! God has a plan and a path for me to be on. One step forward at a time. Don’t waste time looking back or leaning on old insecurities.

Love and hate are two sides of the same coin. There have been times when my brother and I have been at each other’s throats. There have been extended periods he has not spoken to me. (He is capable of doing that.) Even though love and extreme dislike may seem to be different, if they are part of the same coin, they are closely related. My biggest fear was that he would be indifferent towards me. As long as I knew he was feeling one or the other side of the coin, I was okay. I think God is the same way. I really love Him, but sometimes I may get frustrated, confused, or angry. I think that’s okay. What would be worse is to feel indifference towards Him.

Never be afraid to ask out the best-looking person in school. Courage and perseverance are necessities. You may get surprised, and that person may even go out with you. The same holds true with your path in life. Have courage, take that first step. Dreams do come true because we have a God that wants to give us the desires of our hearts.

Life is unfair…get used to it! When you have an older brother, they always get to do certain things before you. They can stay home alone, they usually get the keys to the car more often. They get to stay out later. And when you have a sibling, there is always someone else to blame. He was much more convincing with mom than I. He was good at planting evidence. Be skeptical when people actually say, “Trust me!” or “This won’t hurt!” Yes, it was good practice to learn these lessons from my brother. Life isn’t fair, and the earlier we learn it, the better. Don’t expect it to be fair. God says it rains on the good and the bad. This world is fallen, full of deceit. Evil does exist and no one is immune to it. It is comforting to know that God has my back and is able to take absolutely anything (good or bad, fair or not fair) and use it for my good and for His glory.

Nothing is ever “yours.” The earlier you make peace with this fact, the happier life will be. A sibling may take your toys and steal your stuff. That is a fact of life that you learn to accept. For some reason, we tend to forget it as we age. Nothing is yours…well almost. God made everything and actually everything is His. We get to use it as with money; be a part of it as in relationships; and enjoy it as with nature. If we learn to see everything as His, we will use it more wisely, be more appreciative, and treat it with more kindness. Don’t grip things or people too hard; it can hurt when God pries your hand open. The only thing that is yours to give is your heart to God. No one likes to force a relationship on anyone…not even God. It wouldn’t be love if He forced us to love Him.

You will suffer if you break a promise. Since I had an older brother, need I say more? It was an early lesson to be true to my word. It was an even better lesson that there are consequences to actions. Sometimes as adults we forget that there are consequences to our actions because God doesn’t always punish us right away. Just remember and know…the consequences are coming. Go ahead and beg for forgiveness. It may save you a lot of pain.

When you marry your mate, you marry the family. For better or for worse, learn to love that family. Blood is thicker than just about everything. They won’t be perfect. They may irritate you. They may not be people you would normally choose to spend time with. But they are now yours! And it’s the same when you become a part of the Christian family. Learn to love them all. You may not agree with them. They may fail you at times. They will make mistakes. But they are your family now!

There is ALWAYS a favorite sibling. Even if your parents claim they love you all “equally” it’s not true. Every single parent has a favorite. If you want to argue with me that your parents don’t, then congratulations…the favorite is probably YOU! But that’s one of the greatest things about God. He really is capable of having each of us who love Him as the “apple of His eye.” Finally…we can all achieve that favored status! What better reason to love God?

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Anne Hope is the award winning author of Bent Pages...a sharp, funny, and deeply

inspirational narrative.

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