Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Sibling Rivalry

Sibling Rivalry.
Why is it that these two words go together so easily? Like World Peace or Chocolate Milk. We don’t hear people say World Chaos or Blueberry Milk like it’s normal. No, we would pause and wonder where that came from. Like people actually want World Chaos, though it seems too rampant today, or the taste of Blueberry Milk. Ooh gross! Of course not.
I love these lines in Miss Congeniality with Sandra Bullock. She speaks the truth but no one wants to hear the truth so she pauses, smiles and says World Peace! 

Stan Fields: What is the one most important thing our society needs?

Gracie Hart: That would be harsher punishment for parole violators, Stan.

[crowd is silent]

Gracie Hart: And world peace!

[crowd cheers ecstatically]

 We have world governments that strive for peace in this mixed up crazy world and we have food companies that put chocolate and milk together evryday knowing it works and works well. Two words. Just two, but put together take on a whole new meaning. Why is it that Sibling Rivalry is accepted and said so easily and not Sibling Peace or Sibling Love? It doesn’t even roll off the tongue easily. I haven’t heard anyone say, “Oh they just have sibling love going on today. You know how it is!”  But let me say I have heard many times about brothers and sisters not getting along, fussy and fighting and being mean.  Parents saying, “Oh its normal, you know.” or “They’ll outgrow this someday, I was just like this with my brother”.
And all the while these same two people who can’t get along within the four walls of their own home can smile and be pleasant with everyone else in the world. Chaos exist inside the place that peace should reign.
Does this really make sense? It’s normal today because we as a culture say that it’s normal.
And that’s sad.
Growing up in our home we have a family scripture that we said often when chaos was alive and well:
Romans 12:10
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love, Honor one another above yourselves.
I can hear you now. “Seriously, you actually said this. Out Loud. To your kids?”  Yes, we did and no, I was not wearing my Laura Ingalls dress down to my ankles. Sometimes it was paraphrased, “BE NICE!!!”  Now I’m the first to admit we did not get it right all the time but I will say we laid a foundation that we could build on. I knew that if we didn’t get it right in the four walls of our home, there was no way they were gonna get it right anywhere else. T and I talked and talked and prayed and prayed about and for our children, what we saw in them, how to develop their character, how to show them Jesus honestly in our own lives so they could walk it out in their own. Not just for that moment but for their lifetime. It was exhausting at times when the battle of the wills faced off but we knew it was worth it. I can say there were times I blew it big; how I handled my own communication, or the lack there of. In those times they learned what forgiveness and reconciliation looks like, played out in the real world, because we did it in our home.
We also had a family rule we lived by: If you can’t get along in here, there’s no way you’re going out there to play. I know, mean ol’ mom!  But I meant it and we lived it. Everything our children learn in communicating with each other is everything they will use later on in life. I remember telling our son, “Your wife will appreciate this one day. Learn to communicate well with your sisters now and work out this so you know how to later on.” I would say, “We will always be family. Nothing will change that. Figure this out here.” Or “You can bless people or curse them with your tongue.”  My eyes would get big and I would look directly into theirs. They got the message loud and clear.  I cannot tell you how many times I would tell my kids you are practicing here for your husband/ wife later, trust me.  Oh man it did not always go well and there were seasons in life where they didn’t have friend time for a few days until they got it right with their brother/sister. Imagine opening the front door and a little person is standing there, big eyes looking up at me, asking if so-in-so can play and I’m explaining why they can’t come out to play today. Blank Stare.
My children adore each other. They are friends. They have each other’s back. Having a baby is easy, being a parent is hard work. If you want to do it right it takes hours of talking. Hours of explaining why, not just saying, cause I said so. Hours of prayer on our part as momma and daddy. We want our kids to know Jesus, understand God’s plan for them in every part of their life and it all starts in the home. Then one day when they are launched, they’ll be prepared. Being prepared also includes good communication skills and protecting a brother or sister’s heart. It takes practice. It takes humility.  And trust me, we’ve had plenty of opportunities to practice. Our job, our God-given responsibility as parents is to walk them through what that looks like and all the while pray their heart stays tender towards each other and towards Jesus.
This-doesn’t-mean-they-will-listen. I am not so arrogant to say this is a spoonful of sugar and the medicine goes down technique. That’s just not reality, now is it?
 There is a keen difference between imparting God’s truth in your child’s life and that day they make a conscious decision what they will choose.
I’m sad to hear brothers and sisters fight with each other. I’m sad that parents excuse it as normal. Romans 12:18 tells us, If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone”. Doesn’t that include siblings?

Reality Check: How’s the pulse in your home? Do you and your children practice Romans 12:18 or does that apply only to the people outside of your four walls? Maybe we can all take a step back from the busyness of life and really look at how we communicate with each other. I know I have. I don’t get it right all the time; that is for sure!  I don’t think that’s the point. I do try hard to apologize and admit I’m wrong; just did that a couple days ago myself. It’s all about being real and allowing the Holy Spirit to do his work. You do your part and He will do his.
Thanks for listening,
Tuna Jones

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