Whole - Am I my brothers keeper?
The second question that is offered in Whole starts us on a journey that the first book of bible, Genesis, seeks to address. Humanity is out of the garden of Eden, the place designed by God for us to live fully into the whole being we are created to be. As you read in my post “Where are you?” I realised the pain I must have caused when communicating with my brother one afternoon in a heated conversation.
This chapter in Whole focusses on the story of Cain and Abel and I feel like it has given me access to my story in a new way. It talks of what it means to offer to God and what we choose to offer in the first place. In the midst of moments where we could choose to guard our brothers rather than destroy them we have access to a face to face relationship again with them and God. Here is a bit more of my story!
I have two younger brothers. My brother Pete is a rock, a loyal and strong man. He has kindness in his eyes and has insane sense of rhythm as a professional drummer and producer. He builds things, he sees spaces and completely transforms them. I have watched him do that with the home he shares with his wife and the business that he built (literally) from the ground up, a music studio in the south of the UK. My youngest brother Andrew is a gentle giant. He too has kindness in his eyes and a empathetic strength which sees tears flow easier than for some men. He has the biggest hands I have ever seen and has always been a care giver as his profession. He is a gifted musician as well and often does solo gigs. As you can imagine I am immensely proud of both my brothers.
We are a close family but my parents divorce left us all with fractures. We all dealt with this big life changing experience in our own ways. We all dealt with the pain differently. We all “moved on” differently. The question about whether we are our brothers keeper has been a familiar one that has echoed through the ages and in my life on a deep level.
When I first found out about my parents my heart cried out for my brothers. They were my first concern. The word for “keeper” is from the root word “to guard, watch over or save a life.” I guess as the oldest child I reacted in a way that wanted to save and protect them and when they weren’t reacting the same way I was I didn’t know to step back and go slow. To ask better questions and to just be a sister. I had to learn what was my responsibility and what wasn’t. I needed to learn to guard not from a control point of view, but from the position of lovingly guarding them. Protecting my brothers was my first concern but we were all adults and I was acting as if they needed saving.
When I was around five years old my brother Pete was in an accident. A long story short is that my dad found him, face down on our pond completely lifeless. He had probably been there for just under ten minutes. He wasn’t breathing and my dad had passed that pond on his way to the house to find out where my brother was “hiding”. My mum and I were out and we came home to an empty house with the alarm going off. I remember that sound and that feeling. We later found out that my dad had prayed two simple prayers, the first of which was “Please save my son”. Less than 36hrs later he was out of hospital. They were calling him the water-baby! He was our miracle.
The story of my brother was a huge part of my childhood. It was the story told at kids camps and we were even featured on a Christian TV program. We still have a copy of it and we watched it not long ago. So, I guess I have a unique story of what it might mean to be my brothers keeper and I know that the situation is more than just a physical one. I didn’t save my brothers life but the question posed could be ended with the following, “Am I my brothers life saver?” That is something I really do wrestle with and it something I have been trying to explain in this blog. Right now I am not sure I am making any sense at all.
There is a evangelistic view that we are to save, save,save. Am I my brothers keeper? Yes, the answer is yes and once we fully acknowledge it in its purest form, we are on the road to wholeness in a different way. When we hear God asking the question we have the opportunity to have a conversation. If you notice in the biblical account God doesn’t have a conversation with Abel, he has a conversation with Cain. The question is an invitation that humanity hears more often than not. What might it mean to engage with God on this very question. To respond to the invitation after we hear the question, after we have done something that actually destroyed our brother.
I think for much of my life I have actually treated many as if they need saving. I have tried to acquire my brothers love and affection because surely, surely they need saving still. I haven’t always responded or offered accurately to God or to others because I have felt the need to control. Ultimately I was controlling out of my fear to really experience the broken areas in my life and be healed. The compassion I was experiencing was real but so was the pain. I am still walking it out.
“One of the most courageous things you will ever do
is to turn away from shame and return to the face to God,
where you will find oceans of mercy” Whole – pg36
So, here is one of Steve’s questions, maybe I have started to answer it in this blog.
“How do you “guard” your brother and sister without becoming codependent or doing their work for them?” Whole – pg37
To get your copy of Whole and to find out more about Steve, click here!