Sometimes I need to relearn lessons over and over. Loving people I clash with is one of those ever-repeated lessons. What’s worse is that they’re not people I only see occasionally. They’re not coworkers or people I bump into every other week. They’re my family. An in particular, mostly my brother. I think we’ve clashed since he was old enough to have his own opinion. I easily get frustrated with him and say things I would probably never say to anyone else. And when the damage is done and I watch the hurt sink in I hate myself and wonder why I keep doing this. Why do I keep careening in the same destructive circles time and again? I don’t want to. I hate it. I instantly regret it. So why can’t I stop it?
It’s not like I don’t love him. I do. We giggle and cause trouble together and holler songs at each other in awful sour voices while doing chores. I love this kid. He’s hyper and has Tourette syndrome and he’s a genius and an adventurer and a snuggler. Yet here I am, time and again, beating my head against a wall and asking why I just did that. Why did I dump that awful attitude on him? Of course he’s got his issues. But he’s also got as much feeling as I do. The thing that gets me the most is that even after all I’ve done to him, he still runs to greet me when I get home from work. He’s disappointed when I’m gone a lot. Goodness knows why he’d want to be around me after all the mess I’ve made. But he still does. He still comes and asks me to read to him, or build a hide-out, or climb up into his dusty lair where he promptly puts a tiara on my head and makes me queen of his world. Way to heap burning coals on my head.
This week I spent a couple days with just him at home with me, and I realized…If he was ever in trouble I would do anything to get him to safety. So why am I unwilling to do whatever it takes to love him during everyday life? If I love him enough that I would die to save his life, why am I unwilling to die a little bit every day in order to help him learn to live? How will he know what it’s like to love if I don’t first die for the sake of loving him? Even if it’s just my pride and my agenda dying for the sake of an hour digging tunnels in a dirt heap and watching toads hop through them, or my undisturbed art time dying for the sake of building a cool hide-out.
I’ve brought this up before a couple years ago, but the William’s New Testament translates John 15:13 like this: “No one can show greater love than this, the giving of his life for his friends.”
In order to love people best, I need to be willing to give of my life, regardless of self – to die a little bit for their sake so that they see Christ in me, and, God willing, learn to want more of Him too. Because in finding Him, they will find life. I need to relearn how to die. I might as well start practicing by dying to self at the hand of my brother’s green flashing lightsaber.