Thursday, February 28, 2013

What Might Have Been





My eldest brother, Brandon, was my best friend growing up. Although I was older than him by 6 years, the age difference didn't matter, and it didn't keep him from watching over me. Shortly before his 13th birthday, I left home. And I didn't leave in good terms with our parents - a fact which made it impossible to ever go home again, and to see him again. I did get one visit with him... a little over a year after I left home, and just weeks before his 14th birthday. He ran outside to meet me, hugging me tight. He stayed next to me the entire visit, wrapping his arms around me a few times. And when I left, we embraced again and told each other "I love you."

Little did I know, that would be the last time I would see him. Six years after this visit, I received a phone call. My brother had taken his own life.

My baby brother, Matthew, was my baby. I was the one who babysat him on a very regular basis. I'm the one who sang him to sleep every night from the day he came home from the hospital until he was 7 years old. He was almost nine years old that day I got one visit with Brandon. Matthew was there as well. And, like his older brother, hugged me, although with a bit more reservation. But we did exchange hugs and "I love you"s when I left.

Little did I know, that would be the last time I would see that little boy, either. Fifteen years after this visit, I received an email. My baby brother had taken his own life.

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I generally don't believe in regrets. There are so many things we look back on and wish we would have done something different. Oh, how things might be now if I hadn't had sex with that stranger, or if I hadn't robbed that bank, or if I hadn't sneaked out of my bedroom window, or if I had just taken the time to say "I'm sorry." I'm sure if any of you look back on your lives... even just look back on the last year... you'll come up with several "coulda, woulda, shoulda" things. I should have painted the exterior of the house. I should have gone to see my cousins. I should have...

Well, you get the idea. We all have things we wish we would have done differently.

For me, I try to brush off these thoughts as soon as they happen - especially the more serious things. For example... when I was a teen, I turned my parents in for abuse to my pastor. He betrayed my trust by going to them with the accusation... an act which led to me getting beat, and to me losing faith in the church and basically turning my back on God. BUT... I do not regret my decision to tell this pastor what was happening. Although it seems nothing good came from this act, I don't regret it.

Why?

Because it shaped me. Yes, it made it harder for me to trust people. Yes, it made me believe the church is a sham and God is a bored creature playing games with all us pawns. But, it also made me stronger. It has made me more careful of whom I trust, and because of this, has given me some incredibly wonderful friends. Although it took 20-some years, it has taught me what a church is and is not, and what a good Christian leader is and is not, and has led to me finding a church where I belong; finding a pastor who (although no longer the pastor at my church) has taught me to trust again; and has resulted in me having a much stronger relationship with God. Had I not had this hardship, there is a good chance that my relationship with God today would just be one of those "oh yeah, I believe I guess" type of casual, unimportant relationships.

This is how I try to look at all decisions which start to cause that tickle of regret inside me. I try to think of the good that has eventually come from my decision. When I was 7, I had to get stitches above my eye because I decided jump-roping with a towel was a good idea. I can still see the scar. But I don't regret this. I don't regret it because guess what? I have never jumped rope with a towel since that day.

But sometimes... some decisions... such as the decision that causes me to leave my siblings behind; that causes me to not speak to them again for several years; that causes me to not have the chance to speak to two of them ever again.... those decisions... those regrets. Those are difficult for me.

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Due to the lateness of the hour... and the busyness of the day... and the fact that I am about to fall asleep on my keyboard... I am going to take a break from this post until tomorrow.

Peace...

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