My son was working on a take-home sheet from his Sunday School class yesterday morning after breakfast. There were a few things to read, a few things to think about, and a few questions to answer. One of the passages was from 1 John in the Bible, where there is much about loving one another: “Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” These words speak of loving people beyond our own siblings, of course, but when he read the word “sister” out loud, my dear boy stopped. He lowered his voice, as his little sister was on my other side, and he told me, “This is going to be a problem, because I sometimes have a hard time loving….”, as he gestured towards her oblivious little head.
Our children are four and a half years apart in age, meaning there are a few, but not a lot, of daily activities that they both appreciate and enjoy as much as the other. As an only child myself, all the bickering, verbal and nonverbal cries for attention, and occasional downright meanness keeps me on my toes. I feel like I am constantly serving as referee between them; lately I’ve even started holding up a hand like a traffic cop when they try to talk to me simultaneously. I try conscientiously to let each of them choose favorite things to do, to give them equal time as much as I can, but I know that they often feel frustrated by the one-headedness and two-handedness of Mommy!
However, I am gladly certain of their love for one another. Knowing this, I asked my boy some questions about his sister: if she got hurt, what would he do? If he ever saw another child speaking or acting poorly towards her, what would he say? If she was not feeling well, how could he help? His answers proved to both of us that he does, in fact, love her quite a bit! We talked about the difference between always loving, but not necessarily liking the words or actions of others. I know she annoys him, I know she demands much more of my attention than he cares to share, I know it is hard for him to always say encouraging things or to be as interested in gymnastics or stuffed animals or ponytails as she is! I can see him growing so much because of how challenging it is to always act in a loving way to her. There are many people who are both easy to like and easy to love. But, there are also many who make us bite our tongues, take an extra breath, and pray before we respond! Of course, if one claims to love God, one must acknowledge that it was God who first loved us, and that He did so when we were quite unloveable! I find it fascinating to see the enthusiastic embrace our children have for one another before bedtime, sometimes minutes after squawking at one another or shedding tears over some perceived injustice. I see the kind of love they are learning and showing, and it is good, even if it isn’t always easy.