The Sound of Brothers Getting Along


'Two boys' photo (c) 1910, Fylkesarkivet i Sogn og Fjordane - license:

What could pos­si­bly be more beau­ti­ful to a parent’s ears than the sound of two young broth­ers play­ing nicely together? — espe­cially when those same two are usu­ally fight­ing, or at least when the elder is usu­ally snip­ping at the younger?

When my sis­ters and I were young, my mom used to com­ment about how she hated to hear us fight­ing. I could see that, in a generic sort of way — as in, who really likes the sound of argu­ing? But I never fully grasped what she meant until I, myself, was a par­ent of two.

Yes­ter­day in wor­ship, we heard the Scrip­ture pas­sage from Romans 12:9–21 that includes these two verses:

“Love one another with mutual affec­tion; outdo one another in show­ing honor. … If it is pos­si­ble, so far as it depends on you, live peace­ably with all.”

At home, over lunch, I asked the boys if they remem­bered any­thing they had heard in wor­ship about how we should behave toward one another. It took some prompt­ing, but the younger one actu­ally filled in the blank when I said, “Outdo one another in show­ing…” I asked what would make sense there, and he said, “Kind­ness!” A lucky guess, I’m sure, though some ver­sions of the Bible do use “kind­ness” instead of “honor.” I played that up — how they should each try to be kinder to the other than the other was being to them. And then we talked about “so far as it depends on you, live peace­ably with [one another].” I asked the younger if he could con­trol the older’s behav­ior. “Yup!” he replied jubi­lantly. If only, right? I asked the older if he could con­trol the younger’s behav­ior. “I wish!” he responded. Yeah, me, too, some­times. But in the end, each seemed to under­stand that the only one he could con­trol was him­self, but that to the extent he can con­trol him­self — “so far as it depends on you” — he can make the effort to live peace­ably with the other.

Now, I have my doubts as to whether all that really impacted the later behav­ior of the day. Usu­ally, PastorMom-led con­ver­sa­tions like that go in and out the prover­bial ears. But I’d like to think…

Because most of the after­noon, while I worked and my hus­band par­ented, they were well-behaved with each other and him. And then last evening, after sup­per, the elder will­ingly — will­ingly! — accepted an invi­ta­tion into the younger’s room to play, offered to make some paper flags for his pirate ships, and then played not one, but two (and the sec­ond ini­ti­ated by him, the older), games of Check­ers in a spirit of good sports­man­ship and (on the sug­ges­tion of Mom and Dad) guid­ing the younger’s plays and teach­ing him rather than trounc­ing him. It was all noth­ing short of amaz­ing!

I hate to think it was all just a fluke, yet I also hate to set myself up for grave dis­ap­point­ment later today when every­thing slides back to nor­mal. Was it truly the words of Scrip­ture mov­ing their hearts? Or at least the nudg­ing of the Holy Spirit? What­ever it was, it was beau­ti­ful. And I’ll take what I can get.





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