Sibling Rivalry

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly children desire equality amongst their siblings.  The quest for everything to be fair in each circumstance is a passionate and constant endeavor.  I’ve watched my children struggle and stress, pout and cry, worry and strategize just over having or doing exactly what their counterparts are.  As I watch them shaking my head I sometimes wonder…am I any different?

One of my most vivid memories exemplifying this rivalry is when Maxwell was just a year old.  We were trying to bottle-wean him and we were having a hard time getting him to take a sippy cup.  I had small trainer cups and he just wouldn’t take it…he’d pitch it from his high chair every time we gave it to him.  Then one day he crawled over to where Emalynn’s taller, bigger sippy cup was and went to town.  Ah-ha!  He wanted what she had!  I gave him a big sippy cup at the next meal and problem solved…he never looked back.  This is of course only one example in Max’s 3 1/2 years and Jackson has already realized he’s got something to say if he’s about to get the short end of the stick.

This past weekend Nathan came home from a business trip with 1 replica tire truck.  We have 2 boys of course and Nathan thought the truck was a little too delicate for even Maxwell to play with…but of course he didn’t think so.  When Jackson realized what it was he was right in there as Nathan removed it from the packaging waiting to play with it.  It was very clear from now on Nathan better be bringing two trucks or cars or tractors or whatever it is the boys will think is cool.  That reminds me of a situation growing up.

I desperately wanted my ears pierced when I was little.  Everyone…and I mean everyone had their ears pierced except me.  I remember I was in 2nd grade and at last my mom said we could go to the mall and get it done.  I was elated!  Finally!  I was going to get what I had been wanting for so long!  I sat in the chair and I didn’t even care that it hurt…I was so excited!  I pulled my hair back and turned from side to side looking in the mirror.  Do you know what happened next?  My four-year old little sister hopped up in the chair.  I was shocked!  Are you kidding me?  I’ve waited for YEARS and just because we’re here and she wants it done too you’re going to let her?  She should have to wait just like I did!  She cried…of course…she screamed.  She didn’t really want it as I had.  She didn’t appreciate what it meant because she didn’t earn it….she didn’t wait for it…she didn’t get it!   I just wasn’t fair! 

Sometimes we have rivalry with our spiritual brothers and sisters as well.  All of my life it seems like I’ve always had to wait for everything.  I was younger than pretty much all of my friends and anything I ever wanted to do I had to work…and work hard for.  This instilled a great work ethic in me.  But when other people would get the same things without working for it or after being careless or making bad decisions or not following all of the rules and ended up with the same rewards I did it just didn’t seem fair.  I always felt like the prodigal son’s brother…all of  my hard work and earnest efforts wasted…I felt cheated, belittled, insignificant.  It’s like when you have a great idea and you tell someone about it and they run right out and do it before you even get the chance.  What a thief!  How is that fair?

The truth is I have made just as many poor decisions and those I have so wrongly judged.  The minute I decided to take my eyes off the Lord and look around me distraction set in.  How come they get to have this or do that or go here and there?  They don’t understand what a blessing that is and look what they’re doing with it!  I certainly wouldn’t do it that way…aren’t they looking to You?!  Why do I have to suffer and everyone else gets to live without pain?  Then doubt sets in.  “Don’t You care?”  It is really easy to forget God’s overwhelming love and amazing grace when I’m having a pity party for myself and giving into struggle and stress, pouting and crying, worrying and strategizing how to get or to do exactly what my counterparts are when the answer is SO simple.  “Trust Me”.  Do you know how many times I’ve heard that still small voice?  Why do I have to be reminded so often?  Why is it so easy to look around me instead of keep my eyes fixed on Him?  I am certainly not that different from my children in this department. 

I once heard a quote by John Piper…”There is only one person God has treated worse than he deserved.”  In the Lenten season it really puts into perspective what is “fair”.

Psalm 103

Of David. 

1 Praise the LORD, my soul;
   all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the LORD, my soul,
   and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
   and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
   and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
   so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. 

6 The LORD works righteousness
   and justice for all the oppressed. 

7 He made known his ways to Moses,
   his deeds to the people of Israel:
8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
   slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
   nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
   or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
   so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
   so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 

13 As a father has compassion on his children,
   so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
   he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
   they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
   and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
   the LORD’s love is with those who fear him,
   and his righteousness with their children’s children—
18 with those who keep his covenant
   and remember to obey his precepts. 

19 The LORD has established his throne in heaven,
   and his kingdom rules over all. 

20 Praise the LORD, you his angels,
   you mighty ones who do his bidding,
   who obey his word.
21 Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts,
   you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the LORD, all his works
   everywhere in his dominion.   

Praise the LORD, my soul.

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