When you think of February 14, and Valentine's Day, and love, your siblings aren't usually the first to come to mind. But my brother was the first to come to my mind when I read about the writing contest at Michelle Mitchell's blog: Scribbit: Motherhood in Alaska. I wrote this a while back for Donnie, who is 8 years older than I am. Even though he's 53, I cannot call him "Don." He will always be my childhood brother "Donnie" to me. And I am so glad that he has become tender toward the Lord because it has allowed him to express his love for me more freely, more often and more heartfelt than ever in our younger lives. What a wonderful God we serve. What a wonderful brother I have. And yes, that is the coffee table about which the post is written, and that is indeed a cherry pink divan with silver sparkly nylon woven throughout it, and the year is about 1966.
Dear Donnie: Sorry About the Coffee Table
Somewhere in the world, there is a wooden coffee table with three provocative words scribbled in pencil on the underside. I know because I wrote them when I was about six.
I scooted on my back under that table with a big fat pencil and wrote, “I hate Donnie.” Guess who that is. He’s my brother, who absolutely drove me crazy most of my life. He had a way of just looking across the room at me that would set me off—only you who have big brothers know what "the look" is and how it irritates every nerve in your entire being.
Siblings know almost everything about each other, which makes the other easy prey. After all, you eat together, share the TV and sit next to each other on long road trips, so there’s always opportunity, motive and means for driving each other nuts. Interestingly, even though most siblings don’t like to admit publicly that they’re related, genetically speaking, they have more in common with their siblings than they do their own parents!
There is someone who knows us even better than our siblings do, though. He knows all the mistakes we’ve made, our most embarrassing moments, and even our secret thoughts. That would be God, of course. You can’t hide who you really are from God, even if you scoot under a coffee table or pretend to be somebody else to fit in, or put someone down to make yourself feel better.In fact, in 1 Samuel 2:3b, the Bible says, “The Lord is a God who knows your deeds,” and Psalm 44::21b says, “He knows the secrets of every heart.”
Since we’ve all messed up, that’s scary because it sounds like we’re in big trouble.
But there is good news.
Someone once said, “The one who knows you best loves you most.” It seems unbelievable, but the same message occurs over and over in the Bible—that in spite of your flaws, God loves you deeply. Jesus had a way of looking right past a person’s words, of looking into their lives and then looking even deeper into their hearts, where he could see all kinds of truths, but he never, ever said, “You are just too bad for me. I can’t stand being around you.” He basically said, “You need me, and I love you, so we’re a good match.”
Jesus’ mission on the cross can bring you and God together, the way it was meant to be. I can tell you from personal experience that it feels great to know that God doesn’t hold those embarrassing, wrong things I’ve done against me.
Back to the sibling thing--there’s hope for you who feel like you’ll never get along with your siblings. Donnie and I are proof of that.
In fact, when I see him, my heart beats a little faster with joy. He is the funniest person in the world (which is big, coming from me), and he has a very tender heart. He never gives up on people. He always hugs me now and usually tells me he loves me when we part. I cannot get over the change that softened his heart toward me.
But that's what God does. He softens us in some ways and strengthens us in others. He makes crooked things straight and reconciles relationships. He teaches us to never give up on others. He teaches us to love.
I guess this is a good time to apologize to Donnie for the coffee table "incident," (although he probably thinks it's hilarious.) After all, he is my brother, and I love him. There—I said it for the world to see, “I love Donnie.”
Donnie and I 2006
Larry is 16 years older than I; Jack is 12 years older; and Donnie is 8 years older.