“It’s like you’d rather be with your friends instead of your family.”
Ouch. When my mom said this to me, I immediately switched into defense mode, ready to justify my actions. But could I? If I was honest, what would I say? Were my friends a greater priority? Would I trade time with my family for time with my friends
Did I really turn my brothers away so I could text my friends? Did I ignore my sister so I could finish the email? Was my room constantly off limits because I was always on the phone?
When my mom told me how she felt, I was ready with a rebuttal… until I realized she was right. I did prefer hanging out with my friends– even if it wasn’t always face to face like my family.
I started questioning myself.
I thought I was a good-enough sister and daughter, but I had been choosing friend-time over family time. Why? Why did I prefer spending time with my online friends instead of my life-long siblings? After considering the situation, I realized why I was spending more time with my friends than my family.
We Don’t See Our Friends Flaws
First of all, I wasn’t around my friends all the time and I didn’t see all their flaws and imperfections.
Spending time with people is easy when you don’t know all their problems or see them make mistakes. We’re with our families almost all the time, and therefore, we know what they’ve done wrong. Often, it’s easier for me to just leave the screaming-sword-fighting-Nerf-
Friends Understand Us
Secondly, our friends understand us… sometimes better than our own family.
We tend to surround ourselves with people who share the same interests. My friends don’t mind reading and hearing about my stories and my plots, and a lot of them enjoy crafting and photography and writing. For you, it might be music, sports, or art.
Our siblings? They’ve heard us talk about our interests all the time. They’re around us 24/7. They might be (okay, probably are) completely sick of our obsessions. They have their own interests, and don’t really understand ours.
I have to admit I’m the same way to my siblings. I’d much rather be around people who share my passions, and not listen to my sister ramble about composing orchestra scores. To me, that’s boring. To her, my writing plots are boring.
True Friends Don’t Judge
Lastly, my friends don’t compare or judge.
Sometimes it feels like our parents or siblings are comparing us to someone else. Or, perhaps they are judging us for what we do, say, wear, or eat.
Our friends don’t do that quite as much. A large majority of my long-distance friends have forgotten what I look like, so I know they’re not judging my appearance. At the same time, my close friends only see me on my good days. On the other hand, my siblings see me in the middle of the night, on the days that I’m grumpy, and when I’m having a hard time with school.
Even though I feel like my friends know me best, I don’t want to choose my possibly-temporary friends over my lifelong siblings.
But then again, since everyone else does it– sleepovers, giant parties, constant social media, texting, video-chatting… why shouldn’t we? Why is it so important to value our family?
We Are Called to be Different
Obviously, we’re supposed to be different– Jesus Himself said that we’re not of the world.
“They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” (John 17:16)
The time we spend with our friends may not really be as valuable as we think it is now. Sadly, we’ll probably not have the same friends now as we will in ten or twenty years. But I can pretty much promise you that we’ll still have the same siblings. Our friends might not stick around, but if they do, they might not remember all the late nights we spent texting each other or the long phone calls.
Our siblings probably will. I know I do– I cherish the giggling spasms at midnight with my older sister, and the long car rides where we played games together.
But the true test will come when we’re in trouble. Will our friends abandon us, even though we’ve spent time with them? Hopefully not, but what about our siblings?
Will they only remember all the times when we’ve shut them out and opted out of playing with them? Will they recall the arguments over stupid things like setting the table?
We don’t have that long with our siblings. Depending on if you’re the youngest or oldest, you have roughly 18 years at home with them. Is it really worth the time to try to understand what their interests are? Absolutely. Remember this wise piece of advice from one of the wisest men who ever lived:
“A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a citadel.” (Proverbs 18:19)
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