A Talk With My Brothers
Posted by June 23, 2020on
Three conversations recently helped me understand how my brothers were their sister’s keeper. This helped me consider how I can be their keeper.
I send out a text message every Sabbath morning to my three brothers. I was the third child (and only girl) in a family of four children.
I would love to say that my brothers doted on me, but even that thought makes me laugh. There were screams, fights, practical jokes, getting each other in trouble—and also banding together when it was necessary. The memories flood my mind as I write this.
A few Sabbaths ago, I decided to tell my brothers that I wanted to talk to each of them individually and would be calling them the next day. I assured them that there was nothing wrong, but what I didn’t tell them is that I wanted to have “the talk.”
“The talk” is the conversation African-American fathers have with their sons about being confronted by police officers. There are other parts of that conversation, but this is the part I wanted to focus on. Our experience was a little different because we grew up in a single-parent home and had no father or positive male role model in our lives. The talk I wanted to have with them was to be about their experiences.
The planned conversation
While I knew what I wanted to talk about, the phone conversations took a different turn. I started the conversation with each by asking him if he had experienced excessive force or being mistreated by police officers. All three replied that when they have been stopped, they have been respectful and complied with the requests.
However, one of my brothers did share an experience of being called names by an officer, as if to provoke a negative reaction, and told to lay on the hood of his running vehicle. He told me that he reasonably explained that the car hood was hot and, fortunately, the police officer relented.
Each of them talked about growing up and the things they did. There were things I could comment on because I was there and remember, but there were other stories they shared that made me say, “When did this happen? I didn’t know that!” and “Where was I?”
They were their sister’s keeper
I found out that my brothers had been very protective of their little sister (they all call me that because they’re taller than I am).
We grew up in a neighborhood where families were close. Brothers and sisters participated in things together—and suffered the consequences of their actions together. But that didn’t always hold true for my brothers. They would often leave me out because of some of the things they were involved in at that time (things that I can’t go into in this blog post).
I used to resent being left out. I often felt alone and abandoned by them, which made me feel distanced from them as we grew older. It wasn’t until the Sunday we talked that I understood why they would just disappear and leave me behind.
I remember the bad times and being pushed around and teased by my brothers, but I also remember how they were proud of me and watched out for me. That Sunday I learned they were watching out for me in a way I had never realized before. They had been protecting me by leaving me out of things that could have gotten me hurt or in trouble.
Then came the tears
After the conversations with my brothers, I cried. And I’m still crying today because of how they were looking after me—even though I didn’t realize it.
Genesis 4:9-10 tells of the conversation between God and Cain after Abel’s death. God asked, “Where is Abel your brother?” God could have asked my brothers back in those days: “Where’s Chant’a, your sister?” And they genuinely could have answered: “She’s safe at home, watching television.” That was how they were being their “sister’s keeper”—they were protecting me by leaving me out.
My brothers’ lives have not always been easy; they have dealt with drug and alcohol abuse, being shot, underemployment, unemployment, and all the things that society has thrown at them. Yet they are providers. They did not live with a father, but they love and take care of their children. They have learned to forgive and enjoy the benefits of staying clean.
God has promised that He would give all humanity the opportunity to get to know Him and become a part of His Kingdom. He has graciously called me to be a part of His awesome plan. I’m now trying to be “my brothers’ keeper” by shining a light that does not blind them, letting them know how much I love them, and setting a good example.
I continue the race so that I can help them when their time comes. They took care of me, and now it’s my turn to take care of them.
I am my brothers’ keeper.