My husband and I have brothers for siblings, so we aren’t clueless about male physicality. Our grandsons are also much closer in age than we were with our brothers. We wish for them to have a relationship that will carry them through struggles, celebrations, and old age. I know that my husband and children have definitely had a huge impact on my life and character. Yet, if I back up before marriage, another person entered my world at age five-plus years and continues to influence my life.
I have one sibling. My earliest memories started when he was born, as I anxiously waited for Mom to return home from the hospital with my new baby brother. Dad had said that I could go along to get Mom and the baby. However, one day as I was dropped off at home after kindergarten, I saw Mom at the kitchen door. Even though I wanted to see the baby, I was disappointed because I wanted to help get them home!
I think I quickly recovered my excitement as I waited with baby powder and diapers to “help” when the baby woke up. I hovered as Mom bathed, dressed, fed my brother, and was fascinated by this baby of a different gender. Here was a brother—not another pet cat, dog, or even a cousin!
As the months and years went by, we played school with stuffed animals and dolls. I read storybooks to him. As a toddler, he did create a few problems for me—trying to follow me and getting into some of my toys. But mostly, I was happy to have a brother.
When I was dating my future husband, the guys got to know each other. My boyfriend was the youngest child in his family, so he didn’t have a baby brother, and my brother didn’t have a brother. So they became pretty close, enjoying bottle rocket launches, baseball games, and guy stuff. My brother assisted us with several home moves. He accompanied us on the days we brought our children home as newborns. Because of our relationship, I wanted my children to have a sibling. Later he became an uncle and then great-uncle.
As life rolled by, my brother and I have shared many holidays, projects, and important decisions. He went on a family cruise with us. We supported each other through our parents’ deaths and all the final choices. He carried the brunt of sorting out a 100-year-old farm for sale and then building his own house on some select acres. His ability to repair, repurpose, create and fix household things has helped us many times.
We share some attributes and interests. He is an excellent cook, and sometimes we enjoy cooking together or talking about food. He has a good sense of humor, loves animals and gardening. Yet, we know certain topics are best to avoid if we want to have a peaceful relationship! He has had a different experience in life and has different memories of our parents than I have had. But we can check in with each other for those memories and plan things together. Several years ago, we took a “bucket list” trip to Canada to find our great-grandparents’ farmland.
Now in the later years of our lives, we usually call each other once a week. We try to visit each other several times a year. I pray for him, and we are concerned for each other’s health. I thank God for my brother and all we share, genetically and otherwise.
Many people lack healthy, quality relationships with siblings. The infection of sin has damaged families. Some never speak for many years of their lives. Assumptions, expectations, mistakes, jealousy, and greed can get in the way of love. As I have known Jesus Christ, I also understand my brother as my Christian brother. I want him to know Jesus’ love and for us to have eternity together.
I know God wants to heal and strengthen all those places where siblings have been wounded or need forgiveness. “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this, you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” I Peter 3:8,9 (NIV).
Questions for personal journaling or group discussion:
- How do you answer the question: Who is the person who has most changed your life? This could be positive or negative!
- If you have a sibling, what is something you would like to change in that relationship?
Karen Spruill writes from Florida.
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