Thankful for My Brothers
|My brothers (Chris and Todd) with me,|
My earliest childhood memories include playing with Todd. I'm sure we had squabbles, but I don't remember that. I have one vivid memory of fighting with him over a TV show as young teens. And there's another "memory" that I can picture in my mind's eye. But I think the reason I "remember" it is that I've heard the story told by our parents so many times.
It goes like this:
"All of a sudden, it seemed a little too quiet. So we went to check on Shari and Todd, playing in one of their rooms. When we opened the door, Shari was sitting on top of Todd's chest with her hand over his mouth, promising to let him go only if he promised not to tell on her." I guess I was the typical first born child. Todd was much more gentle in spirit than I was. I'd bet he has more memories of me as a kid than I do of him for precisely that reason. Probably not all fond memories.
When Chris was still a baby and toddler, I was just old enough to carry him around on my hip and pretend he was mine. I got married and moved out when he was only five. And he was just shy of his seventeenth birthday when our mother died of cancer. So I had a lot of protective, maternal instincts as his big sister. He is now a father of five and his oldest daughter just got engaged. At 45 and 56, the maternal feelings have faded. I'm just his much older sister who doesn't feel that much older.
Life has handed our family ups and downs, triumphs and tragedies, joys and sorrows. We have all taken turns being hurt and causing hurt. From that standpoint, we're no different from any other family on the planet. There are times when you feel connected and times of disconnect. But our family is in such a good place today. And I am so thankful for that.
Only the people closest to me truly know the depth of longing I have carried throughout my life for closeness, peace and harmony within my whole family.
I'm writing about this for two reasons. First and foremost, I just want to tell my brothers that I love and value them. Secondly, I know all families have relational struggles and conflict. And the approaching holidays are typically a time when we feel anxious and alone in our particular stories of dysfunction and disappointment.
The reality is, we are not alone. Not by a long shot. Unmet needs and expectations plague every human relationship. The more we love someone, the greater their power to hurt, anger and disappoint us. And vice versa.
There are wounds that last a lifetime within families. Nothing is unforgivable with genuine repentance. But how much potential exists for restoration of relationship hinges on the types of wounds, even when there is repentance and forgiveness, and how interested and open each party is to investing in one another and a future relationship. I truly believe there can be a completely mended fence that doesn't include a gate with a welcome sign saying "Come on in."
Relationship is an individual choice and not the same choice for every person or every circumstance. So I want to be careful to acknowledge that. I'm not offering a cookie cutter solution to pain.
However, in a lot of cases, there is tremendous potential for healing and restoration. I want to encourage those of you reading to make the effort required.
God wires each of us differently, but intentionally places us together in a family.
Nothing God does is random. My brothers and I were intended to be brother and sister, and to help each other grow into the people God wanted us to be.
My brothers have an important role in my life as I do in theirs. And I'm grateful that, despite differences, each of us has chosen to make an effort toward mutual respect and understanding. I know my brothers love me as much as I love them.
Thank you, Todd and Chris, for loving me as I am (with all my flaws and imperfections). And thank you for giving me so many nieces and nephews to love. Your kids are some of my most cherished blessings in this life. I'm proud to be their aunt ... and your sister.
I love you both.