Broken Walls

"A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city" (Proverbs 18:19a).

I'm not sure how the bad feelings began between my oldest and youngest child. Considering the fact they were both strong-willed, I suppose a conflict was inevitable. Whenever I needed my daughter's help in watching her brothers and sister, she was determined to let her little brother know she was in charge. My young son, however, had other ideas. Resenting his sister's bulldog methods of control, he tested her authority every chance he got, and homeschooling became difficult since I could never trust either of them together alone for any length of time. One day I finally asked my daughter, "Why don't you just talk nicely to your brother? Things get done so much easier when you speak with honey instead of vinegar."

"Oh, Mom," she cried. "He's just asking for it, and I'm delivering." Years later, my oldest and youngest finally resolved their differences, but not until after many hurtful confrontations.

Left unchecked, bad feelings between siblings can last even a lifetime. Jacob and Esau were two such brothers who wasted 20 years in a broken relationship. Being more than an annoying little brother, Jacob actually stole Esau's birthright and left town in fear of his brother's wrath. Years later, God commanded Jacob to return to the land of his father, but the huge obstacle of brotherly reconciliation stood in his way. When messengers reported seeing Esau and his band of 400 men coming toward them as they traveled, Jacob was sure his brother was coming to kill him and his family. Coming before the Lord in prayer, Jacob humbled himself and prayed, "Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children" (Genesis 32:11). God answered Jacob's prayer after a humbling all-night wrestling session (vs. 24-32), and when the two brothers met, they finally reconciled with an embrace and a kiss.

What about you? Do you have a poor relationship with your brother, sister, or some other family member? Have they been bulldogging you with negative remarks about homeschooling? If you're tempted to retaliate with a few hurtful remarks of your own, take heed and guard your words. Lifelong conflicts can be easily avoided if you respond in humble brotherly love. "A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger" (Proverbs 15:1).

Father, I know You desire the family to work as a unit, but I've allowed selfishness and pride to ruin my relationships with those closest to me. Show me how to live in forgiveness and love my family even when they're being unlovely. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Comments(13 comments)

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BOBBIE JO R 05/29/2009 06:06:37

Okay, I am knew to this site AND new to homeschooling. When I signed up just the other day it asked if I wanted to receive the daily devotionals and I decided, why not, maybe it will help me focus more on my prayer life and I know prayer works. So I signed up hoping that seeing the devotionals will encourage me to get back on track in connecting throughout my day and not just when I NEED it. So, I open my email this morning and I find the above devotional. Tears nearly came to my eyes because I am experiencing this pain of separation from my brother (and my only sibling). Since we were children we have been on the outs and as adults it has gotten much worse. I have tried to reach out to him through the past two years and reconnect, trying to express how I am not the same "bratty little sister" that I had once been in his eyes. However it did not help. About two months ago I was informed that his final answer is that I should stop my attempts because he wants NOTHING to do with me. He said I am not truly the person I pretend to be and that the "God stuff" in my life is all fake. As well he is getting married at the end of June and did not invite me and did not make accommodations for our disabled father to be able to be a part of his wedding either. It truly saddens my heart that my children will not know their uncle, nor will they know his new wife and her son. I can see the changes that have taken place in his life most recently and I can see how he is maturing into a better man, husband and soon to be father and I so want to be a part of his life... but after the last conversation about fixing our relationship I feel as if it is over... I cried that evening in my husband's arms and he asked me what I was feeling and I told him I felt as though my brother had just died...I mourned that relationship. I'm so sorry this post is so long, but again, knowing the power of prayer I thought that if some others saw this and prayed for this relationship to be rectified that we might one day be able to love each other and enjoy each other's company as brother and sister. I just keep thinking... God did not make a mistake by making us siblings and I cannot imagine that this is the way he intended our relationship to be. Thanks for this devotional and the ability to make a post about it... it was exactly what was needed! Blessings, Bobbie Jo

STEPHANIE Z 05/29/2009 07:16:56

I enjoyed the devotion and it left me thinking about the steps involved it such an emotionally complicated relationship. Can you elaborate more on the "how's" to your childrens reconciliation? Thanks!

LYNN G 05/30/2009 09:07:53

This devotional is so true in most families. Not just homeschooling ones. I have a daughter that has chosen not to have nothing to do with her family but to move far away to please her husband. She is in danger but cannot not see it. His family is a very disturbed one and that is were they went, to be with his family. I have asked Jesus to protect her as I have let this go and given it to our Father in heaven. Perhaps, if it is God;s will, one day we will be reconciliated. And perhaps Bobbie Jo you and your brother will be also one day as well. I have chosen to pray about this as well as pray for my daughter and her children.

BOBBIE JO R 06/03/2009 19:32:32

Lynn G... thank you so much for your kind words and prayers. I will be lifting you and Stephanie up in prayer as well. God Bless

WILLIAM H 05/28/2010 01:05:16

I had to ask my wife if she were the one who had written this! This sounds exactly like our family. There is hope. My wife and I are both the oldest, and we both had problems getting along with our younger siblings. However, the older we all get, the better we get along. Time and distance help a lot!

TERESA S 05/28/2011 05:31:40

Wow ! God knew exactly what I needed to hear this morning. Thanks You God for reminding me you are always in control.

ELAINE P 05/28/2011 05:44:19

Once again...amazing timing! My sister has always been resentful of me. As a child she thought my parents favored me more. (I was the first born). We were ok for years, until the last 6. My sister became bitter, and increasingly distant and critical of me and everything else. Now we hardly speak. When my mother passed away last July it brought us closer for a while. But then her old ways began to creep back in. Now they are back in full. The sad thing is other people see her personality problem too. Her own Grand daughter does not want to be around her! But she projects the blame on others, claiming it is things they do or not do for her. My family is moving in two weeks, far from family, and she did not come to my home for Easter, she wanted to stay home and clean her house. It\'s sad. This devotional was very comforting.

C&D A 05/28/2011 07:53:39

I just received this devotional today and I must say it provides Godly sage advice. My family and I have been estranged for many years. I have, over the years, extended the proverbial olive branch many times only to have those attempts be turned into disappointment. While I do not see any reconciliation in the near future, I remain open to God\'s plan and will abide when He decides that we shall come together. I don\'t expect it to happen, but I cannot worry about it either. I am open to a relationship with my family members, not just my brother, but it must be a healthy relationship. I decided to pull away when it became nothing other than dysfunctional and hurtful. I have two young boys and I work with them a lot on learning to connect with one another, understand each other, communicate with each other, and handle conflict that is a part of life. We don\'t always have great results, but when I see them together much of the time there are lots of hugs and admiration between them. I believe that many times in life we are given choices to make. Sometimes we must make difficult decisions. Regardless we hurt...we grieve the loss of relationships...but God is good and will take care of it in his time. Our goal must be to stay open to reconciliation and to be willing to receive those which have rejected us. Not always easy to do but with His strength we can move mountains.

DEBBIE H 05/28/2011 13:55:55

Bobbie Joe...Some time has passed since your response. I am taking a break cleaning up the \'school\' room while my husband and daughter are at his sister\'s for a birthday party for her boys. We never hear from the family, never a question about homeschooling. Not even a word of encouragement or fishing for answers to my daughter from her grandparents. My parents ae both deceased. My only sister and her husbands attitude has changed to us since we rededicated our lives to Jesus. Just wanted to let you know you\'re not alone when it comes to mashed families. All we can do is the next right thing and leave the consequences and family members to God:) This devotion page helps more than I ever thought. Keep the faith sister! Happy homeschooling.

NANCY W 06/01/2011 06:38:53

I also have sibling problems....I have taken care of my mother for 11 years and my two sisters were very jealous that mom picked mom was diagnosed with dementia a year ago and they took advantage of her weakened state and moved her out of my house...within six months, they put her in a home. She apologized over and over and now she is living with me again and the siblings are very angry. Of couse, there is more to the story, things had to be done legally to resolve this issue, but, thankfully not in court. I have two older brothers that agree that mom should be with me, since she has lived with me for years. Plus, there is a trust issue. I live by the Bible, and of course we are going to be hated, because they hated Jesus first. We are not to be surprised by this. My sisters, sad to say, only wanted her money. I did tell them that they are only my siblings. It takes more to make a sister. They bullied me for years and I can\'t handle it anymore. I hope one day that they see Jesus in me and come to know him the way that I know him. It\'s amazing how God works in your life...I also signed up for the dailyfocus and I absolutely love it!!! God is so good! He knows just what we need to hear when he wants us to hear it! Thank you for listening. Nancy

KATHY S 05/28/2012 08:22:30

Through the years my only brother and I have \"battled\" it out time after time. Even so much as a few months ago, we had a big blowout. But,We are both Christians, andas mad as we get, we always end up apologizing to one another and making amends. For this I am very Thankful. I do have another problem though, Neighbors. God says to \"Love our Neighbors\". I have tried. I know they are not siblings, but I have to vent. I live in a duplex. For over 8 years now, I have put up with their noise, loud music, the ladies son setting our building on fire (because he was smoking \"Crack\" in their side of the basement. Their daughter had enemies, they assumed this was one house (as that\'s what it actually is, just split into 2 sides) AND Threw a BRICK through my bedroom window at 6 in the morning, so I had glass in my face and all over my bed and bedroom, after 2 yeras, I am still finding little peices of gless here and there. Now, my Mailman asks me the address of th other side, I tell him, he shakes his head and says \"Read the Newspaper\". Doing that, and further googling on the internet My nutty neighbor has moved in her EX-Husband, this Ex husband was let out of jail after14 1/2 years, 1/2 of his sentence. HE Murdered his girlfriend and buried her in the backyard of whereever he lived prior to prison. I know I am supposed to love thy neighbor, forgive others, but it\'s becoming harder and harder. My neighbor lady has moved in her son, her daughter, a kid who works at the local Walmart (found out he was liviing there as my friend who uis a manger at Walmart said \"how do you like having Dom live in your basement apartment?\" I went nuts,there is no basement apartment!!! Now, I see another 20 somthing year old mowing our lawn and wonder \"who else has she moved in??\" Police here back and forth, I think her son beat up his wife over last summer, there were 6 squad cars here. I tlee my landlord, he addresses her, she says \" no cops were here, I don\'t know hat you are talking about\". Thankfully, my landlords brother had driven by and seen all the Police, so he knew there was something going on. I\'m trying to recover from my heart attack, I\'m trying to remain calm. But everyday poses a new reason for me to get upset. So, all that being said, thank you all for listening as I had to vent this to someone. God Bless.

K Weaver 06/10/2013 13:16:21

Kathy S, I can relate to your situation- we are not in a duplex, but my neighbor was just recently released from jail after serving 2 years for shooting his mom. She let her "baby boy" come back home because she's sure he's changed. Now there is a constant crowd of shady looking characters there and I'm constantly battling fear for my children's safety. The thing is, I really do believe that God is keeping us safe- I have prayed for confirmation that we are to continue living in this house and he always responds yes. Two years ago things were getting really bad there and that is when I started praying specifically for "peace on my street". 1 week after I started praying for peace the boy shot his mom and went to jail- the neighbors on the other side who were also sketchy also dissapeared and a nice teacher moved in. It sounds awful since the mom got shot, but she didn't get hurt too badly and him being removed from her home made her life much better. Anyway, now that he is back, nothing has happened to actually disturb our "peace" and I just keep praying that prayer. I truly believe God has a plan and whenever I pray for him to remove my fear he calms me down- I just need to constantly pray for the fruit of his spirit in my life, my home and my street. Anyway, I guess I share all this to encourage you to faithfully put your situation in God's hands. Pray for guidance and protection and let God wash his peace over you. I also pray for God to give me His love for my neighbor- that doesn't mean I have to be chummy or put my family in harm's way, but I do pray every day for the boy to come to know God and want to surrender to His will and be a productive and peaceful citizen. I pray God will also give you the strength and wisdom to love your neighbor and for peace for your home.

Kristie Wright 05/29/2013 17:07:30

Wow, thank you so much for posting this today! I needed this! My brother and I are having some issues. He is older then I am. He is getting ready to get married in August, but the relationship between us has just seemed to split in half. I mean I know that the relationship is going to change, but the hard thing is that I experienced this same thing with my oldest brother. Only this one is hurting a lot worse, because we became very close when this happened to our oldest brother. I am really struggling trying to keep the relationship, but the more I try, the more distant he seems to become. It is getting harder and harder to talk to him, and it is really difficult to talk when all I can do is cry just thinking about it! I could really use all the prayers that I can get. Thanks again! And I definitely will be praying for the rest of you, because I know what all of you are going through! Oh, btw, thankfully, now that my oldest brother has been married for 8 years and he now has two children, our relationship has become closer! We are all born again Christians, but my prayer is that this brother will too change after some time. The girl he is getting ready to marry, I have been friends with for two years before their relationship started, so we were very close as well. I am hoping that the closeness that we had just being friends will help, after they are married, reunite us!

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