My mom warned me it would happen: she said, again and again, one day you will wake up and he will be bigger than you. So this day she said would come, this growth spurt of my little brother, well, I don’t need to tell you this. But I will. It happened.
For the majority of our childhood, I was the older, wiser, and stronger sister (or something like that). My brother would do little brotherly things, like insist we watch The Lion King yet again (when he knew our TV only showed Mary-Kate and Ashley movies) or not obey as the student in my imaginary classroom (when he knew I needed him to pay attention to the lesson I detailed on the green chalkboard), so I naturally did the older sister thing and give him a good slap, yelled at him a little, called him a juicy name. I always thought he was my baby to raise, that it was my job to keep him in line. After all, someone had to do it.
Sweet little Kelly took all those years of, let’s call it disciplining from his older sister, and quietly bottled them up. He sealed the lid tight and just let it all come to a raging boil. And then he exploded. I remember that day that finally came, him lunging at me from across the room like Scar attacking his older brother, Mufasa. There was nothing I could do—his muscles had developed, he grew out of his kid-sized Michael Jordan tee, his voice bellowed deeper. The way I remember that day, my parents rushed in the room and one of them, probably my dad, had to pull him off of me. He was strong enough to hurt me and, believe me, I deserved every bit of that lion lunge.
So what do I know about the love of a brother? I know that it’s powerful and complex. It’s a whole lifetime of moments that add up as you’re competing for your parents’ attention and approval.
In Genesis 37, we see the beginning of what happens when Joseph’s brothers have spent seventeen years building resentment as Joseph was treasured as his father’s favorite. As Jess shared this week in Dig Deep, this level of hatred doesn’t just happen overnight.
I know that the love of a brother can fall under our most loving and our most contentious relationships. Love comes in many forms, sometimes expressed in painful and messy moments.
And the love of a brother changes over time. Today, my brother and I have traded lion lunges for hugs and smiles when we see each other. Even when we don’t talk for some time, I know that he’s always there to love and protect me, that we have a lifetime of memories together that only siblings can understand.
We joke as a family that he has dethroned me as the “Golden Child” for following in the footsteps of many in our family and becoming a teacher. It’s half a joke, but also half a real question: Mom, who really is the favorite child?
What do I really know about the love of a brother and the love of our family members? I know that the fight is worth it for relationships with a depth and beauty unlike any others.