It has been a sad summer for my family. My brother was killed in a car accident June 17, 2022.
He was my only sibling, and I his. And we made each other crazy! We fought over the stupidest things, we refused to be in the same room sometimes, and truthfully, when I moved to another state, our relationship improved...a little bit. As adults, we were never close. We were too different.
He claimed he could remember everything, every detail. and I claimed he was full of baloney. Even when I proved him wrong, he refused to accept it. He would try to convince me I didn't know what I was talking about.
I declared myself a private person, who was uncomfortable sharing my thoughts and plans with him. He labeled me sneaky, that I never wanted to discuss my plans with anyone, that I just went ahead and did what I thought needed doing. I admit that sometimes I don't mention what I am up to, because I don't want anyone to have input into what I am doing. I suppose to a little brother, that could come across as sneaky.
He loved to travel, going to France multiple times, and touring Europe several times, as well as visiting Island countries. But he would drive within a mile of my house and never stop to say hello.. I only travel if my husband makes the plan or if I can drive the whole way. The only traveling I willingly do is back and forth to church , and to Arkansas. But I never stopped by to see him at his house, even though I drove within 10 miles of his house. We were both stubborn. We were both ornery. We loved one another, but we never knew one another.
Since he's been gone, I have people who know us both ask me Do you feel guilty because you didn't get along, now that he's gone? What do you wish you had done? And the answer is no, I don't feel guilty and I wouldn't have done anything differently. Firstly, because if I had known he was going to be in that accident, I would have derailed his plans that night. But hindsight isn't 20/20, is is hubris in the extreme. Secondly, we had reached a peace in our relationship that made it easier for us to talk on the phone once in a while. We had a communication that fit the both of us. No, we didn't get together on holidays. Not particularly because we were mad at one another, but because we didn't want to be mad about some silly thing the other one said. I know, I know, you are thinking "Avoidance, much, Pastor?" But it wasn't about avoiding anything, it was more about appreciating our relationship for what is was. And in many ways, still is.
But now, I am a lonely child of 58. I can't say I am an only child, because I have a brother, he's just not available at the moment.
I've told you all of this because I am reading the account of Jacb and Esau coming back together after their big blowout over birthrights and inheritances. We spend an appreciable amount of time in telling the story of the bowl of stew with which Jacob purchased Esau's birthright. Was Jacob to blame for Esau's shortsightedness? Was Esau to blame for being so hungry he thought he might die?
We enjoy sharing the trickery of Jacob and Rebekah when it came to getting Isaac's blessings, even though we also say it wasn't fair of them to trick poor, blind Isaac. We even like to recount the story of Jacob's running away to save himself from Esau. But we rarely look at the way Jacob and Esau came back together. Check out Genesis 33:1-15 if you don't remember the story. Jacob divided his wives and children, afraid they might be killed and hoping to save at least some of them. But when they met, there was no violence. They met, they talked about their families, and then, they went on their way. They were never going to be close, but they had made peace with one another.
Some relationships are like that. They aren't going to be what is expected. Those are relationships that might never make outsiders admire how well you get along. But, your siblings, they know a side of you that no one else ever will. When they die, that aspect of you is gone with them. If you can reach a peace in your heart, then maybe that's the best that you can do. It's practicing an agape kind of love, Maybe you aren't going to do anything fantastic for them, or they for you, but at least you have quit hurting yourself and your sibling by trying to force each of you into something neither of you can be. "Peace be with you, JW, and also with me."
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