Thursday, January 5, 2012

Born for Adversity

"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." - Prov. 17:17

For most of my formative years, I thought that the second half of the above verse meant, "a brother is born to fight with."  In my dysfunctional childhood home where fighting was a daily occurrence (even though our parents hid their heads in the sand about it) I really thought that was the only interpretation that made sense.  I saw one brother thumping the other one constantly - every chance he got he was hitting, kicking or shoving his little brother into a wall, and the younger one took it, to his own detriment.  I just tried to stay out of the way.  Usually I succeeded ... with my brothers at least.  

After the enforcer left when I was about eight years old, I got to know this fellow who had been surviving under his older brother's thumb... and sad to say, in his shadow.  He spent the next forty years trying to live up to the expectations people had of him to equal his brother's accomplishments, which if you listened to the adults in the family, were nearly god-like.  By the comparisons the adults made, the younger brother was a failure.  No matter how hard he tried, he just couldn't do anything right - at least, not right enough to impress the two people he most wanted to please: his parents.

Nobody saw - nobody, it seemed, but me - what a passionate, decent person he  was, how much compassion he had for the down-and-outers, how deeply he felt, how amazingly creative he was.  He had (and has) his faults and we have had our share of tussles, but when the chips were (and are) down, this guy was (and is) in my corner.  Every time.  

Born for adversity.  A good guy to have around when you're in trouble.  And even when you're not.  I learned so much from him! 

Like, for example, how to look past the exterior and see what a person was really like on the inside, no matter what they looked like.   I remember him telling me in tears, after some girl rejected him at school, "Sis, don't ever just not give a guy a chance just because he's ugly or wears glasses, or because his nose is too big."

I am so blessed to have a brother like that.  So blessed.

By the way, I married a guy with a big nose and glasses.  And I think he's handsome.

Right now my bro has some pretty serious health problems, and the worst thing for those problems is high stress levels.  Unfortunately, that's exactly what he's going through.  But miraculously, after years and years of feeling beaten, less-than, criticized, and yes, hated - he is starting to realize that a lot of it wasn't his fault.  He is starting to understand that it is okay to feel angry when someone hurts and betrays you, and that without an outlet for that anger, it will fester inside and shorten your life.  He's learning to vent in safe ways.  He's starting to heal without even knowing it.

And it couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

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