Brotherly Love

I spend a lot of time with my brothers. Our parents have stayed married and we’ve all lived in the same house for the majority of our lives, aside from the five-year spans that Jordan and myself went to K-State and earned bachelors-degrees (I’m not sure what for though, as the current job-market is oversaturated with college-grads working jobs they’re overqualified and underpaid for, but I digress…).

When you spend that much time with people, they start to see you – the whole you – all of you – there is literally nothing that you can hide from them. I can tell by the tone in their voice or the language they use if they’re upset; I nearly have a sixth-sense, particularly with Tyler, if he’s distraught about something and wants to talk about it but hasn’t gotten up the courage to bring it up yet; and I can tell when Jordan’s anxious when he doesn’t want to leave our room.

Something happens when you know people that well – you really learn how to push each others buttons. Nobody can make me madder faster. From jolly and jubilant to fuming and eager to get out of the house for the day in two-seconds flat.

There’s an interesting element of this button-pushing, I’ve discovered – it’s the tension that comes with varying ideologies, differing levels of relationship with God, and a colorful variety of moral ethics. Our parents can no longer force us to read our Bibles every day and college and adulthood has challenged our thinking and taught us to learn things for ourselves. And we’re all starting to learn some lessons, at our own pace, the hard way.

The Good News? God is a loving, patient, kind, and Good Father.

The Bad News? We’re impatient and fickle with each other.

One thing we all hate is being questioned. When you live in the same house as seven other people, you often end up having to give a reasoning for your decisions seven different times. And when you’re working towards independence and struggling to feel like a man of your own making, you become defensive. Usually by the time the third person has questioned us, we’ve shut down and are done with the conversation.

“We lash out to defend our pride, but is it worth the damage? Severing heart wounds take a long time to heal and words can’t be taken back.” – was the thought I posted on Facebook earlier this week after a particular debacle broke out in my car on the way home from seeing the movie, Deadpool, with the bros.

It’s difficult to watch the ones we love and are close to make decisions that we disagree with, or believe that we have the best practice or answer to. So our first response is to share our solution with them. “Here – let me fix you!” – is the message portrayed as you share the remedy. However, it’s often a deeper, more penetrating heart issue that shows its face as a surface struggle. And what you believe to be loving advice is only going to be taken as an attack on character, if their heart isn’t ready to receive it.

There is a significant importance in finding the right people to give the role of counselor or accountability-partner in our lives. However, if you haven’t been invited into that role, it’s probably because the other person doesn’t want you there (yet). Chances are, however, if the life you’re living is above reproach and you’ve got strong character in an area that I don’t, then over time, I’m going to invite you into that counseling role more and more because I see that your way is good by the fruit that you produce.

Perhaps that’s why brothers can be so critical of each other. They hear each other’s goals, platitudes, statements, and what they believe to be learning and then they witness first-hand the lack of fruit in the current season that person is in. But we often aren’t patient enough to witness growth. We pester and persist that they change this or fix that, in order to become more “successful” like us, until we push them away. Their hearts go into hiding because they don’t believe they are loved as they are. The message actually received is – “I can’t love you now, but I will if…”

And if we profess ourselves to Christians (and every member of the Meyer household would proudly profess to be), then this is no way to love. And I’m one of the first to admit my heart needs renovation. I’d take a bullet for Mom, Dad, Jordan, Tyler, Caitlin, or even Brianna (she’s in this hyperactive obsession with Justin Bieber period of her life right now, so it’s hard to say that ;P – but really – I would).

So why do I share this? I’m not calling any particular member of my household out. Nor do I wish to deface the moral values instilled by my parents that have raised each of us up into golden reputations and a for-the-most-part stellar backbone when it comes to crucial ethical issues. I simply share this because it’s what was on my heart this week. And because perhaps, your family could relate.

Maybe we start with prayer? And we ask God to teach us daily, how to better love those in our lives exactly where they’re at. Because after all, that’s how he loves us.

I think the fruit will come once the seeds are planted. But sometimes you have to wait for rain. Other times you have to pull the weeds. Perhaps there will be a flood and you’ll have to replant. Maybe there will be years of drought. But really, the deepest thing our family needs to know is that we are there, and they are loved.

And brothers, you are loved.

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