"Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves." Romans 12:10
I have a lot of pictures of my children (as most moms do), but these are some of the most recent and favorite pictures on my computer. I love looking at them because they make me remember that my children do love one another. This is not so much of a concern between my two younger boys, but my oldest and middle son have had a "bitter-sweet" relationship through the years. It has gotten better, but I still pray that they remember to love one another unconditionally as God has instructed. It is an important change for all of us.
My oldest son will turn 18 this month. He has already graduated High School (I am so proud of him) and is transitioning out on his own (which has been his dream since he was in middle school). We've had some troubles over the past few years, but he has "shaped up" so nicely thus far with help from a program that worked with him. I have "shaped up" from the experience and hurt. Anyways, he was 5 1/2 when I had my second son, and although he was proud to be a big brother, he took it hard and started to resent having a brother. He felt as though he needed to compete for my attention (well both of them did), although he did not need to. They were such different children and still are; like oil and vinegar some would say. My second son loved the oldest son unconditionally. He used to say, "I want to be Nate". Nate would say that he wanted to be "an only child" and do things that would hurt him. Regardless, they had a lot of great times through the years and do love one another. It just took and still takes a lot of reminding.
Things are different now that Baby Max is a part of our family. He makes us remember that there is a 3rd brother that loves everyone unconditionally and that is a beautiful bond from the start. Regardless, as I look through these 4 pictures that make me remember 4 things:
No matter how much you fight and get jealous of one another, REMEMBER that you are brothers. I will always remember the day we took this picture because this was one of the only times that you did not give me a hard time about taking pictures and you got along. You were genuinely happy to participate in this family photo session. Your innocence and happiness shown through this day.
You don't look much older, but years have gone by. Remember how much fun you had together this day (hunting alligators, spending quality time together and sleep deprived because of your new baby brother). Remember that you are not just 2 brothers anymore; you are 3 brothers now (3 amigos) and that if I should meet my maker tomorrow ... remember that you will always have one another.
"Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them." ~ 1 John 2:9-11
Now you get to be the big brother. You get to be an example and share the unconditional love that you receive. The same love that you have tried to share with your brother over the years ... it is now yours back and it is beautiful to watch. I will try to remember that - to you - this is all of our baby and that you enjoy having a little responsibility during the process, but you need time to be the tween that you are and the teen that you will become in the next few months.
You cut the umbilical cord when this little brother came into this world. Although you are 17 years apart, there will always be a bond between oldest brother and baby brother; this has strengthened the bond between Jonny and you, but remember that Jonny still needs you and looks up to you. Fortunately, he no longer wants to be you and is happy being himself, but he still looks to you for the unconditional love that he gives Max and will always need from you.
I sit and remember the love, hurt, excitement, disappointment, struggles, blessings ... I remember teaching them to turn the other cheek; that God loves us unconditionally; that God wants us to love our neighbor as he loves us; you must love your brother ... As I sit and I remember that God has blessed me with 3 remarkable little boys at stages in my life where I needed to learn and remember his unconditional love. The same unconditional love that he has for us and had for us when he gave his only son, Jesus, to save us from our sins. Thank you for answering my prayers dear Lord. I now understand and will always remember.
It is really hard to sum this all up in 5 minutes, so I will end with a reminder that I can only pray that my sons will love one another unconditionally as God loves us and instructs us to do.