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A Very Long Time Together

June 23, 2011

When we were quite small, dad sat us kids down; and instead of giving us a spanking, which we probably deserved for fighting with each other, he told us, “You’ll make friends in life. Those friends may stay good friends or you may lose track of them completely, but one thing will never change. Your family will always be your family. You will forever be connected to them. You would do well to make your brothers and sisters your best friends.”

I looked at my brothers and sister. Really, I thought. This is as good as it gets? Ethan did teach me some cool stuff like how to throw a football, trap and kick a soccer ball, and how to bat, but he also bossed me and the others around a lot. He claimed he was making sure we stayed out of trouble, but it seemed like bossiness to me.

The week before, Leigh had painted “Laura + David” on an old piece of plywood. I’d found mom in the kitchen and through sobs told her how gross David Lattimer was. He turned his eyelids inside out, and the very sight of it sickened me.

“Go paint over it,” mom commanded.

“Nobody’s gonna see it,” he argued back.

She gave him the mom look. “Go spray paint over it.”

“In the same color so it won’t show through,” I pleaded.

“Yes in the same color, and for goodness sake stop tormenting your sister.”

Then there was Amy. We fought every Saturday morning while we were supposed to be cleaning our room. If I told her to “Hurry up,” she’d slow her voice down to a crawl and respond, “The more you tell me to hurry, the s-l-o-w-e-r I move.”

That infuriated me and I’d yell louder.

Then she’d clamp her hands over her ears and shout, “I’m sorry; I can’t hear you,” which prompted me to tackle her and pry her hands away from her head. “You need to hurry up,” I’d bellow.

She’d just scream louder, “I’m sorry, I can’t hear you.”

Perhaps it was after one of those Saturday morning “cleaning” sessions when dad sat us down for the talk about being thankful for each other. If  he weren’t so annoyed with us, he might have been amused by the ridiculousness of the situation. Of course Amy could hear me, but if she screamed loud enough, she could pretend she didn’t.

I sometimes wonder if God looks at His children, and watches us fight with each other. How sad His heart must be as He sees us bicker about what color the carpet in the new auditorium should be. He would probably like to sit us down and say, “You know, you’re family, and you’re going to end up spending eternity together. Wouldn’t it be nice if you learned to get along with each other now? All you’re doing is wasting time and energy.”

Instead we argue and debate; and if we holler loud enough, we may even distract ourselves from what we’re supposed to be doing – sharing God’s love with the rest of the world.

The world needs to see Christians who love each other, who get along, and who can work through differences without spewing ugliness about one another.

Romans 12:10 says, “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love; in honor giving preference to one another.”

That’s easy to say; not so easy to live.  But Romans 12 has a few other things to say about those who exasperate us. We’re told to bless those that persecute us; and if you really do love someone, you’re able to do that. As aggravating as Amy was to me when we were children, I loved her dearly because she was my sister.

A few years ago Amy said to me, “Laura, you’re a neat freak, and I’m not. That doesn’t mean your way is right and my way is wrong. It just means we’re different.”

Hmm, sound familiar? The same chapter in Romans talks about the members of the body of Christ being different – different so we can accomplish a variety of jobs.

There is almost nothing my brothers, sister, and I can’t get done as a team. Our talents and personalities are quite diverse; but we eventually learned to appreciate each other and make our varied gifts work together.

So the next time you want to throw a shoe at that person sitting across the aisle from you, remember, God made them unique just as He made you a one-of-a-kind. Besides, you’re going to be spending a very long time with that person in heaven; so best to start getting along now.

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