Happy Monday, my friends! Just as each family is unique so too is each sibling relationship. When my sister was born—32 years ago today to be exact—I was neither ready nor pleased with the arrival of this small, premature child. I would not grow into the good big brother I was expected to be. In fact, at just shy of four years old, I was introduced to Emma in my mom’s hospital room and, to my eternal shame, smacked her on the back. The next memory I have is being at the airport watching the planes land and takeoff with my aunt, but I’m told the scene turned into something out of a movie as my parents sat shocked, my sister cried, the nurse gave me a look that could kill, and my aunt whisked me out of the room. Our relationship remained rocky throughout childhood and adulthood, perhaps only improving as I moved around the East Coast. Where she is practical, conservative, and predictable, I’m quirky, liberal, and change my mind all the time. I was a loner who liked school, church, and ample quiet time. She likes being around friends and was indifferent to school (though she is smarter than me). She was the athlete in the family, while I was in theater or church. She’s straight, married to a man with a good job, and the mother of an adorable little boy. I’m Queer, single (and looking!), and much too busy/poor to raise a child. Simply put, we’re different.
The Bible is not particularly full of good sibling examples. Of the very first pair of siblings mentioned, Cain kills Abel. Joseph’s brothers sell him into slavery. Jacob deceives his father to steal Esau’s inheritance. Moses leaves the Israelite camp in the charge of his brother and sister only to return to find that they created an idol which they are worshipping. Even chosen sibling relationships sour: the apostles can’t stay awake with Jesus and Peter denies even knowing Jesus.
Sibling rivalries are normal, even expected. No matter the number of siblings or the resources to be contested, siblings tend to find something to challenge each other over. Most of us, granted, come to some type of peace with our siblings. We learn how to get along or at least we learn which buttons not to push. We learn that as different as these people might be from us, they are our closest family members, and that connection will never fully end.
My sister and I may have a weird, sometimes distant, sometimes very close relationship—made even stronger by her son who I adore and who thinks the world of me—but we are always there for each other. We even talk to each other sometimes, a fact that astonishes our skeptical parents.
Who are your siblings—biological, chosen, or adoptive? What place do they have in your life?
Let us pray: God, thank you for our siblings…even when they test our patience, drive us bonkers, and make us tear our remaining hair out. Thank you for giving us people who challenged us to develop diplomacy when we were young and who continue to teach us grace as we get older. Thank you for the chosen siblings you have brought into our lives, yes, even when they too test our limits. We ask this all in Jesus’ name, remembering that like us he had siblings. Amen.
Blessings on your week, my friends! Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.