Christianity is all about relationships and our ability to build them. The teen years are crucial to learning how to form healthy relationships with the people around us, and sibling relationships are some of the most important.
If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.
1 John 4:20
This summer, working with many teens that wanted to build their relationship with God, we’ve learned that not only can healthy sibling relationships be essential to helping teens become Christians but they can also be the most revealing about a person’s heart condition.
Many sibling relationships fall into the category of competitive (most recently illustrated by recent fight flick “Warrior”) and distant. Although living under the same roof, siblings can take little interest in each other and fight more often than they get along. Distance can often be the result of deep seeded competitiveness and envy making closeness nearly impossible.
One teen that studied the Bible and became a Christian dealt extensively with her competitive relationship with her younger sister during her Bible studies. Because they are close in age, competitiveness was a real challenge, whether boys, grades or sports.
As she studied the Bible, she came to terms with her true feelings towards her sister. “There was a lot of competitiveness and jealousy in our relationship. I made her my standard. As long as I was doing better than her at something, I felt good about myself,” she said.
Things began to turn around in their relationship as well as in their individual relationships with God when they began to have honest conversations with each other and as a family.
“I always felt that I was the only one that was jealous but because she studied the bible at the same time, I learned that we were jealous of each other. Opening the doors of honesty helped me to feel less insecure because I felt like I could talk to her about what I was feeling. She could relate,” she said. We learned that when the dynamic among siblings begins to change and become more loving, it’s easy to tell that the relationship has become less about sibling rivalry, and more centered on God.
Cultivating honesty in the home and initiating honest conversations, as a family is essential in helping to convert teens. We can’t assume that time will fix every relationship because hurt feelings that aren’t dealt with create bitterness, making it difficult to develop a relationship with God.
“I’m giving you a new commandment: Love each other in the same way that I have loved you. Everyone will know that you are my disciples because of your love for each other.”
When siblings begin to love each other instead of compete with each other it becomes clearer that they are making progress in their relationship with God and defeating the sibling rivalry dilemma.