Dear Grace...

I hate my little brother. He's always in the way and my parents give him everything he wants. He's so annoying—how can I change him?

Sally

Dear Sally,

Sometimes the hardest people to love are in our families. Birth order in a family has it's bonuses but also downfalls. Your parents learn and grow with each child. 

Pull out the old photos of when you and your brother were younger. He probably was a cute baby whom everyone loved, especially you. I assume you may be feeling jealous of how your parents treat him, which is different than how they treat you. You most likely have different privileges and responsibilities because you are older. And as you become trustworthy with your parents they give you more responsibility. This is a natural part of growing into a responsible adult. I will also assume your annoyance with your brother is because he is always in your space. Whether you want to be or not, you are a huge role model for him. He is learning from you and modelling your actions, words and attitudes. He looks up to you  and he is asking for your attention, even though he may ask for it in negative ways.

We can learn from Jesus. When He faced negative people how did He act? He loved them. He gave them respect, value and worth. He met them where they were at. But he also took time for Himself when He knew He needed it—He went off for walks alone and to pray. [Matthew 14:23] Jesus taught by example. His actions and words changed hearts. People knew His love was real and unchangeable for them. People felt heard. But most of all He offered each of them forgiveness.

They say blood runs thicker than water. Families are important. They are God's idea and He has placed you in yours. Family members know you better than anybody else. They know your best and they’ve seen your worst. They know your habits, likes and dislikes. And because of this knowledge they may love you more deeply and be your strongest supporters. But they can also irritate, cause grief and challenges. It is in family that we learn about relationships. When we love and give family members respect, kindness, honour and forgiveness first, then we can treat people outside our families in the same way. It takes thought and work at first but eventually these qualities become natural.

Your brother is testing your character. Love your brother, touch his heart and his heart will change his actions. Your actions will change you. And Jesus smiles because you are learning about what a relationship really means, and you are drawing closer to Him. 

Grace