Loving a Brother Who Is Hard to Love

If I have to walk on egg shells to keep from upsetting him,
If I often wonder if he treats me rudely because of past offenses,
If I do things his way so as not to aggravate him,
If I avoid him because his pride is disconcerting,
If I find him impossible to talk to because he doesn’t hold a conversation,
If he expresses no interest in me and puts up walls –
        I continue to wonder, does he really love me?
If love is patient, kind, not rude, keeps no record of wrongs, is not easily angered, and is not self-seeking (1 Corinthians 13:4-5), then I could conclude that no, he does not love me.


If I treat him with respect even when he is callous,
If I show interest by asking questions even if he does not reciprocate,
If I am patient and do not mirror his emotions when he gets flustered,
If I do not judge what I cannot understand,
If I gently speak the difficult words that need to be said (even while cracking the eggshells),
If I forgive him for not loving me back,
        Then I love him not just with words but actions too.

Jesus said it is easy to love someone who is loveable. Anyone can do that.  But if you love someone who is hard to love through the love of Christ, then you honor Him even more.

It hurts to love someone who doesn’t love you back, a feeling that God must be well acquainted with. He calls us to do the hard things and then infuses us with His power so that we can do them. 

I love you, brother. If I don’t say it, I hope you can someday see it.


  1. I think my daughter must have felt like this much of the time growing up with her autistic brother. Only lately, as she has reached young adulthood and is a parent herself, can she see that he does the best he can. I see compassion and love there now.

  2. I am sorry that I did not see this post sooner and I hope you see my comment. Here is a secret, Paula, that I learned many years ago now.

    It only hurts to love someone who does not love you back...
    IF you have an expectation of him.

    I know this is a very difficult lesson to learn. I had plenty of practice with this philosophy with many people in my life, but mostly my mother. I wanted to be close with her and she with me...I know that was in the hearts of both of us, but she had expectations of me as a daughter and I had expectations of her as a mother. We would never meet the expectations of the other and we never did as long as we both had them. Then, one day, I decided to really love my mother. That is to not want anything from her but just love her. I just wrote a post about doing this with God at Have You Hugged Your Lord Today?

    At the core of every expectation is our selfish desires...not that all selfishness is bad because without selfishness we would not be able to enjoy anything, but some things that are rooted in our selfishness can be very harmful...not just to others but to ourselves.

    I realized that I had so many and such big expectations of my mother that she could never fulfill them. These would not be above and beyond expectations for most mothers which I used as my measuring stick, but they were for mine. The more I tried to get her to fit into that "mommy box," the more unhappy I made both of us.

    I realized that those expectations set myself up to be disappointed over and over and over again. I learned the best way to show I really love someone is to free her (and myself) from having any expectations of her. If you did not expect or even hope that your brother would act in a way that you see as loving, you would not be disappointed. You have given him power over the relationship, actually over your heart, with your expectations. No expectations, no pain. And, you would find that you could enjoy...yes, to some measure "enjoy" him as he really is. If you want to change something in someone else, you must first change something within yourself.

    I have written about this a bit at Search "Expectations" but has been awhile so I will try to write another post on it soon.

    1. Thank you for all your words! I believe you are right - there are moments when my love for him seems most pure and selfless and that is when I have no expectations. I have not been able to put my finger on why I sometimes feel hurt that he doesn't respond or see my love. You hit the nail on the head! God has shown you so much through your relationship with your mother. My heart goes out to you and I am awed by the wisdom He has given you.

      I miss the closeness my brother and I used to have growing up, but I can find much to be thankful for in that God has given me opportunities every day to show him love after 15 years of not seeing him or hearing from him. He is now part of my life again, even if he'd rather hide from me. It really is an amazing story - I'll blog it someday. For now, I look forward to seeing what you have to say about expectations and love.

    2. Paula, I don't know which is more difficult, having had a close relationship with someone you love but not anymore or never really having it at all yet desiring it. Both leave a person wanting something she cannot have. I do know you cannot have a real relationship built on what you hope or what you had in the past. It has to be based on what you have right now even if...no, especially if it is not ideal. I will be praying that the Lord blesses you with peace.