Monday, March 15, 2010

oh, brother

Lately I've been talking to my brother on Gmail chat. It's nice. He's not really a phone talker, and really he's hardly a talker at all unless we're face to face, but it's been more natural this way. It's good to hear from him, just to listen, even if what we talk about doesn't always make me worry less. He's nearly eighteen now, nearly graduated from high school. Nearly so many things.

A friend of mine asked me the other night what he was going to do after he got out of school. I've certainly thought about it--I'm left trying to figure out how to make everything work every time he and I talk--but the question caught me by surprise. I didn't know. I don't know. There are ideas, none terribly promising, but I find myself wanting to do do do, to work everything out for him, set things up so he'll succeed and it always ends in: I can't live his life for him.

This has been popping up everywhere, lately. Not just with my brother. With my friends, people I care about so much. I don't really feel this way with my mom, but there are people who I want so many good things for and I can point and pray all day long, but the decisions they make are their own. I feel this most strongly with Josh, of course, but it's like I'm holding onto these last few pieces, trying to keep everything from falling apart and I'm terrified of what will happen if I can't do that.

I think, where will he live? and, who will love him? On the one hand, it's practical. On the other, dramatic, maybe, but regardless, still very present. I've worried about this as long as I've considered going overseas, and I don't think this will be something that will stop from doing that--if I'm honest with myself, I can do little more from here than from there, these decisions being fully his--but it's something I think will stay with me.

Writing this I know there is a disparity between the responsibility and worry and love I feel for my brother and entrusting him to God. I don't think it has to be one or the other. Surely I'm okay to want to make sure he is taken care of, that there are good things for him, support and hope and all of that. But this must be within the context of trusting his whole life, every bit of it that I can't make right for him, to God. It's really the only thing I can do, at least ultimately, and at the same time it's the hardest possible thing. What if this and this and this and this? And then I'm paralyzed by it all, it's too much, and so surely giving it to God is the most freeing thing I could do, but how could I possibly do that?

I know the logical answers to these questions. My head knows what I should do, what is good and right and that, yes, my God has my brother and loves him and wants for him things better than I could ever hope. But how do I translate that to my heart? What does it look like? What do I do? (Because surely I can't do nothing, is what my head says.)

And the lesson, as always, stretches into every part of my life. I see my tendencies to either want to not have to think about it at all or to take too much of it, to not guard my heart, to let it overwhelm me. In this I see just how much more my Father loves his children and how this could be likened to some minute, minute version of what it must be like to give free will to the world and watch the creation you love reject it. My brother's not a robot. He's smart and he's got a good heart and he needs things only God can give him. And I can't be God to him.

My heart wants to say that he isn't a lesson. He's a boy with a life who needs life. I can't give it to him. I can't do it for my friends and I can't do it for myself, even. And so there's no resolution with this one. Just hands held out. That it would be the Lord's.

1 comment:

  1. This is so very hard, this letting go of people. I don't understand why it's so hard for me to do it, since I've never had control over anyone's actions but my own, so I'm not sure where the idea that I factor into other people's decisions came from in the first place.

    There are two people very dear to me who are making the worst choices possible right now, and some days I just want to shake them and say, "What could you be thinking?" But, for as much as it kills me to see where the road goes, I can't do anything to get them off it. So, I am in the midst of trying to learn to love them through this and pray for the best.

    Your brother has his own story, and who knows what it will look like. You answered your own question, though--Who will love him? You will. You already do.