Time to hang our dirty laundry. Let me tell you a story.
Sometime in the fall of 2017, my brother got arrested. If you know him, then you may know why and if not, then that is not important right now. What is important, is the fact that this story isn’t about him at all. It’s about Jesus and who He is.
Over the last seven or eight years, my mother has been heartbroken over my brother’s decisions. Continuing to make terrible decisions wrecked their relationship. She felt like she couldn’t do anything right and he felt like there was nothing he could do to make anything better, so he turned to his poor choices as a way to make himself feel better for a moment. His poor choices turned into an eventual lifestyle which has now landed him in jail for the time being. He missed Thanksgiving. He missed Christmas, and New Year’s. It’s been a weird season.
I did ask my mom if it was okay to tell this story on the internet, and she approved because of what God is doing here. He’s working I promise.
“What in the world is God doing with your brother in jail?” -- Yeah, I asked the same thing. Jesus has brought me to weeping multiple times over the past couple of weeks to show me how good He is. Remember when I said my mom and brother had a wrecked relationship? God is a God is healing and restoration.
Through my brother being in jail, they have become closer than ever. They can’t touch, and they can only see each other through glass during their visits every Sunday afternoon, where they sit and talk for the only hour of visitation the jail allows per week. But, they can talk on the phone every day. But those phone calls. Let me tell you they spend 15 minutes (at least, they only last 15 minutes, sometimes he calls again if they weren't finished) on the phone every single day. If he would’ve never gone to jail, they would still see the same strained relationship they have had for years. I’ve been praying for them every day all these years.
Side Note: As an example of the kind of love only a mother can have, we still have a Christmas tree in our living room (my mother is the kind of person that takes the tree down before Christmas Day is over). She found a 3 foot tree on sale and set it up with all of his favorite ornaments and has bought him gifts that are slowly being wrapped and put under the tree so that we can celebrate Christmas with him. When I asked how long it's staying up: "Until your brother comes home."
And finally, I am seeing him work. He is so faithful. Nothing happens overnight, or in our own timing, but through his grace, he redeems us and not only brings us closer to each other, but also closer to him. My brother has talked about being angry at God for years, and even at one time telling me that he didn’t even believe he was real. He has been telling about what he thinks God is doing, which is something because this means he’s acknowledging His existence in a positive manner. Baby steps. He even asked us to send him a Study Bible so he can read and understand what he’s reading (That one made me really excited, as I’m a huge fan of the ESV Study Bible).
Y’all. Life is so hard. 2017 was so hard. My heart was broken over and over again seeing my brother fall further and further away from the only one that can actually give him real relief from the pain he feels in life. Watching his destructive actions and attitudes was so hard for me.
What God is doing in my life through this: making me more sympathetic towards people who are not like me, and teaching me that it’s okay to cry out to him when I’m hurting. Whether they are people like my brother, who have an incredible support system despite being heartbroken, or for people who are in jail because they have no one that actually cares about them. It’s so tough to see things from another point of view or understand where people are coming from. It never justifies bad choices, but it makes it easier to see why they got to that point, which makes it easier to point them to the gospel. He’s teaching me how to love other people.
If you’ve read all of this, thank for taking the time to read this little story, and I’m asking for prayers for my sweet parents and my brother as they continue on this road until he can get home, and then even after for continued growth in their relationship and rehabilitation into heart change.