For my first post it seems fitting for me to write about this as I have learned earlier this month that I have a tenth younger sibling on the way. I have decided to write a list of reasons I am grateful for siblings. This is one topic in which I can safely say I have much experience (that is, “siblings,” not “gratefulness”).
Siblings do a really good job at hiding that they are truly blessings. They are all coated in flaws that you, as their sibling, have the hardest time seeing through. You’ve got them too, but it is always hard to see oneself without a mirror. Pride will fog things up. Be prepared. We have to remember that we can’t put ourselves above our siblings though pride will try to make things look different. We are not the judge.
Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
- James: 4:11-12
It may take some effort, but it is important to love our siblings anyway and see them not for their flaws, but the blessings they really are.
Blessing #1: They give you a constant challenge for you to grow your patience and become more Christ-like in your own household.
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
- 1 John 3:16-18
When I search my soul, I very often find God convicting me of sin in how I treat my siblings. I see my impatience and have to work at it constantly. It’s hard. But I can’t even imagine how much less patience and unconditional love I would have in my heart if it wasn’t tested.
Because of the siblings God places in our lives, we get opportunities (very challenging ones) everyday to respond in the way that Jesus would. With sacrificial love. And then God’s love will abide in us, in deed and truth.
If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
- John 4:20-21
How much more does this mean that God wants us to love those we see everyday?
#2: They give you close understanding of different types of people.
One thing I’ve learned in my years as a big sister is that siblings come in different shapes and sizes. They are different ages. They have different personalities.
Because of this fact, I understand a lot of things about a lot of people who aren’t my siblings a lot better. For example, I can relate with kids of different ages. I nearly always have a sibling who is a baby, so I can talk about babies with moms. I nearly always have a sibling who is a toddler, so I have an idea about how to deal with fussy toddlers. Pre-teens are now predictable. I understand what kids of a lot of age ranges are like on the surface because I can compare them with a sibling.
Siblings also give me a good understanding of personality differences. Actually, I am somewhat of a personality type nerd (I’m an INFJ — the rarest type). Since I know several of my siblings' personality types, I can transfer my knowledge about them to other people. Having a lot of siblings makes this practice more reliable. For instance, I don’t judge extroverts because I have a few very different extroverts in my family. But I do know what similarities they share.
My variety of siblings have blessed me with an understanding of people. This blessing is subtle, but so good to have.
#3: They give you experience with children.
This is a very practical blessing and has come in handy quite a bit for me. When people see the how many siblings-worth of experience I’ve had, they know I can be trusted with theirs.
Living with and caring for many siblings has prepared me for ministry in volunteering at our church’s nursery and assisting in Sunday School. I’m blessed that God has given me siblings and experience that can be used to His glory.
Plus, if you babysit, it’s a nice fact to have on your imaginary business card.
#4: They give you good moments, which outweigh the bad moments even when it doesn’t look like it.
I have a sibling who has extreme bad moments, but when the good moments come they wipe away every memory of the bad. With the memory of the right moment, even that sibling is easy to forgive. Often that is the key: to remember the good in your siblings.
The good moments outweigh the bad when you consider their worth, so just forgive and forget the bad moments. Even when they don’t say sorry. It’s hard. But ultimately they are worth it. They are blessings.
#5: They bring the conveniently local blessings of their talents into your life.
Often there are siblings, even younger ones, who will surpass you in certain areas. It may be simple. Perhaps your little brother, if you’re honest with yourself, may have a better sense of humor. Maybe you’re not artistic, but your sister is. And a photographer in the family is always useful.
My siblings’ voices have come in handy for me recently. I was making a little video and I had a script but I needed some people to read it. (Of course I was too shy to record my own voice.) I was not only blessed by the voices that were old enough to not mess up so much and be more professional, but also by the younger ones. Because honestly, they added something to the video I couldn’t replicate on my own. When they tried to say big words (which I had given them on purpose) they added a unique touch.
What would I have done without them? I would have needed to do it myself, or pay someone, or find a robot voice online or do something else so much more inconvenient. And the video just wouldn’t be the same.
I’m sure you’ve had instances where your siblings' talents and personalities have come in handy. You’ve just got to remember.
#6: (This may seem like thinking of siblings as objects at a store, but I’ll put it here anyway.) They give you a choice when you make decisions.
When you have a lot of siblings, you can pick and choose according to the task you want one to perform. I know it sounds weird, but think about it. You choose one person over another all the time.
By way of illustration, you know how each of your parents respond to questions differently? Like when you ask what the limits on desserts at a potluck are, you know who will more likely respond, “A wise amount,” and who will set a number. This gives you a choice. Then you get to pick the parent for the situation.
A more common example is when you have a specific topic on your mind you want to talk to someone about. Who do you talk to about such-and-such? A close friend your age? Your mother? Your father? A toddler? The boy at church who is fascinated with spiders? You must choose according to the task you want them perform. Depending on what you want to talk about and why, this situation could result in very different choices.
So having a lot of siblings gives a variety of choices. One sibling may be just right for a board game, another for nail-painting, and another for talking about a theory concerning the time continuum that you came up with. Choice is a blessing.
So next time you feel like God should have made you an only child, remember God put your siblings in your life for a purpose. So many purposes, really. All in all, siblings are blessings. We just have to keep on loving them.
Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling.
- 1 John 2:10