I Peter 1:18-19
from August 2009
My daughter has an incident happen in public, an embarrassing incident. Extremely embarrassing. I am not present when it happens but my husband fills me in. And, he adds, when it happened, Shepherd pointed at her, and told other kids, look at what my sister did.
My chest closes in on me as I whip around to confront him. You did that? I accuse. I yell. That's awful. That's the meanest thing you have ever done! She is your baby sister. Your job is to protect your baby sister! My heart is broken, Shepherd, it is broken!
His face crumples at my rebuke, but mostly he looks confused.
I am seven, maybe eight years old. We're down the street at the neighbors' house, the neighbors with the teenage girl and the little stepbrother. I am in a tree in their front yard. The stepbrother - the bratty, stupid stepbrother - is whipping my bare legs with a switch. He won't stop.
When I try to climb higher, he just whips harder. The switch stings. Teenage sister and her friends watch, and laugh, and encourage him.
My brother is there. My big brother, whom I adore, but who hasn't been wanting to play with me lately. My big brother who thinks teenage girl and her friends are cool. He won't look at me. I keep staring at him from the tree, desperate, waiting for his eyes to meet mine, waiting for him to rescue me.
He looks at the ground and pretends he's not there, that I'm not here. The big kids laugh and cheer. The switch stings my legs. And he won't look at me.
I jump down from the tree and run as fast as I can past the four houses between there and my own, enter my mother's kitchen, find the Tupperware full of cookies, and eat them between my sobs.
He has broken my heart.
The chasm grows wider and wider. There are other incidents. There are other heartbreaks.
I am nineteen, maybe twenty years old, home from college, in my mother's kitchen. I make fajitas, really good fajitas, that take a long time to cook. I make myself a plate. He comes and heaps all of the fajitas on his plate. Jay! I shout. Don't eat all of them! I want more! Mom hasn't even had any, that's so rude! Put some back!
Fine, ----! he yells, and he throws the plate of fajitas - all the fajitas that I worked on for a long time - into the sink. Here's your ---- fajitas!!
I stand at the sink. I am shaking with rage. My eyes look at him, at the ruined fajitas, at the knife in the sink that I used to cut the steak. In one very long millisecond, I imagine myself grabbing the knife, and plunging it into his heart.
The way he plunged the knife into mine when I was in that tree, all those years ago, at teenage girl's house.
I want to do it. With all that I am, I want to do it. But I have reasons not to. Because it is wrong? No. Because he is my brother? No. Because of my mom? No.
I think, I am not going to jail over him. I turn and walk out of my mother's kitchen.
My heart is wicked, my heart is dark. My heart is pragmatic.
The night of my daughter's incident, I reflect on all this, on so much heartache. My chest closes in. I pray that my son and his sister, who adores him, will remain close. That he will protect her. That she will never know the feeling of being abandoned by her brother - or her father.
I think of Christ, on a tree, mocked, hurting, heartbroken, abandoned by his brothers and his Father.
She is not you, He whispers. And Shepherd is not him. And their father is not your father. And this family is not that family. And then is not now.
All things are new. Including my heart.
I am quieted as a word enters my mind: redemption.