A new family moved into our ward, adding two more sisters to my Sunday School roster and another layer of interesting dynamics in a class full of teenage sibling duos and trios.
Taunting, teasing and bantering is not uncommon during the beginning of our discussions, but I do try to keep the revelation of family secrets to a minimum. The most fun I have, however, is seeing those without siblings in class feel comfortable enough to treat each other like family as well.
During our September “Come, Follow Me” lessons that focus on obedience to the commandments, our conversations have gravitated to the importance of helping family members stay strong in gospel living.
To emphasize that point even stronger, last Sunday, I divided students into teaching companionships, as always, but this time made sure they were paired with siblings. They taught from the scriptures and shared family experiences on the topics of not being ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, being an example of the believers, recognizing that the spirit of contention is of the devil and that the Lord will help us know what to say — not just during missionary moments with friends or strangers, but also under the roof of our home to strengthen family relations.
Those without siblings in class chose a topic from “For the Strength of Youth” and shared a personal family experience to teach and testify.
We then deviated into game time, playing our version of the old “Newlywed Game” but “sibling rivalry style.” Brother and sisters answered questionnaires with personal preferences first and then what they thought the answers would be for their siblings. Questions included “What is your favorite cookie?” and “What is the favorite cookie of your sibling?”
My motive, of course, was to see what to bake next Sunday, but it was fun to see how much the siblings knew about each other. The non-siblings formed teams as well and were motivated by double rewards if they got the right answers.
With questions such as “What is the household chore your sibling hates to do most?” the door to future secret service opportunities was opened wide.
My favorite, however, was hearing each brother or sister reveal what they thought a sibling’s greatest talent was. We’ve had the spirit envelope our classroom on many occasions, but none so sweet as when the sheepish compliments flowed between siblings.
Although I don’t fully understand how temple covenants bind family units forever, I believe the promises are true. Someday I also hope to understand how those we love most, hate sometimes and frustrate frequently can be our biggest advocates for eternal peace and progression.
This I do know unequivocally: My siblings taught me some of life’s greatest lessons, and watching my children grow together has also been my best education both spiritually and temporally.
So, it’s perfectly natural as well as entertaining and inspiring to see the good kind of sibling rivalry carry over into Sunday School and help promote obedience to God’s greatest commandments.