Heartbreaking tension

We hadn’t planned to meet up, but there we were.

I was on my way to see our sister, and he was headed the same direction to visit his then-girlfriend when I called my brother.

Me: “Oh haaaayyy!” — said in my most nasal-y tone, which I know he hates — “Where are you?”

Brother: “I’m just getting onto 65 South in Evergreen.”

Me: “Seriously?? I just went through Evergreen.”

He was two miles behind me on the interstate. I mean, what are the chances? So like any rational, level-headed, born-and-bred Southerners we decided to stop for some fried seafood about 20 miles down the road.

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Why does he have a snake tattoo that runs the entire length of his arm, you ask? No idea. Brothers are mysterious.

While we devoured fried dill pickles, we discussed how impressive our sibling synchronization was and determined that our combined awesomeness must affect probabilities in a quantum realm, resulting in our traveling proximity on this particular evening.

It’s amazing, the conclusions that can be drawn as a couple of bored travelers “cheers” with fried pickles.

Our conversation ran the gamut, from the completely made up and ridiculous (which probably doesn’t surprise you by now) to rants (on his part … always on his part) about the uselessness of three-tined forks. Basically we were discussing some pretty heavy stuff.

Somewhere in the midst of our banter, he declared, “You don’t know my life!”

I scoffed. He loves throwing out that phrase anytime it suits him. It’s classic brotherly indignation at its finest, and it’s one of my favorite things.

And while we weren’t talking about anything serious and although he meant it lightly, after he said it he got this faraway look.

It surprised me, this dive into introspective honesty. It’s something he’s rarely shown me.

As I sobered, he said, “I mean, you really don’t.”

He was right. I have never given up all my comforts, never squeezed the trigger in defense of someone else, never stayed up all night guarding my fellow soldiers against the threat that constantly lurks in the shadows.

“I know it,” I said. “I honestly have no idea. I think about it sometimes.”

He looked at me and for a moment we were just quiet. Then with a shrug, he went back to eating his shrimp and grits, moving the conversation back to a place that was comfortable.

It was a brief moment of acknowledgment followed by the impulse to keep it light.

What do you do when your heart breaks for someone, but you have neither the words nor the vaguest inclination of where to begin? Do you push and chance that the wall will go back up? Do you listen and wait, hoping for a door to open?

Loving someone fiercely doesn’t always mean pushing them toward what you think — or even know — is best for them. Oh, how I wish it did.

I think sometimes, loving fiercely means being consistently there for someone even when they don’t want you to be. Sometimes it means giving grace when all you want to do is give a fistful of wisdom to the head of idiocy.

But oh man, it hurts. The helplessness that you feel is like an invisible weight that only gets heavier with each step they take in the wrong direction.

And in the midst of the heaviness, in the midst of that helpless feeling, all I can think is, “I wish my faith was stronger.”

For so many reasons, that’s the revolving message on the ticker of my mind. Because the root cause of my heaviness, I think, is the worry that he won’t come to the One who can help him. I’m having trouble with trusting him to the Lord. Do I know that God loves him infinitely more than I can ever comprehend? Yes. Do I truly believe that in my heart? Sometimes I do.

But today is not one of those days, unfortunately.

Even when I don’t feel the assurance that I crave, and even though I feel like I’m wading clumsily through the “heartbreaking tension of not knowing the outcome,” as one friend put it, I know that the Lord hears my prayers and that He draws near to the brokenhearted.

If nothing else, this season of life is confirming something God has been whispering to my heart for the past year: Truly loving others means laying them at the feet of the One who always keeps His promises.

By Margaret

Maggie Evans is a regular contributor to The Scroll. She also is special assistant to the editor for The Alabama Baptist/TAB Media. Maggie and her husband, Sam, are members of Iron City Church, Birmingham.


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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Aunt Joan Dillman

    Oh, Maggie, you so get it!

    1. theropetab

      I do! I wish I didn’t, but I do. I just have to keep telling myself, “God loves him more than I do.” Love you, Aunt Joan!

  2. Gail Touchton

    Love all of you very much. I had an older brother.

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