Brotherly Love

Learning To Love My Brother

HEBREWS 13:1,3 (1) Keep on loving each other as brothers. (3) Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

MATTHEW 25:35,36,40 (35)” For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited in, (36) I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you visited me.” (40) “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for me.’

This is, you might think an extension of the last story I wrote Learning to Forgive except this is about my paternal brother Steve. There was a lot of jealousy between the two of us growing up, for one he looks just like my dad, and me, well I look like my mother. Right about now you might be saying to yourself where be the problem or jealousy comes from. Well it’s all on my part the jealousy and bitterness that is. I’m ten years older than Steve is and for a long time growing up there was just Shelley and I. Shelley is my oldest sister, who passed away from cancer a few years ago. To make a long story short I grew up being jealous of Steve simply because he got more attention than I did. I got into more trouble it seemed and sometimes for what reason. And as an older brother I was mean and spiteful. To be honest with all the bitterness between dad and me I took out on Steve. You might be saying that’s just sibling rivalry and you’re right it is. Here is a sample of the things we would do to each other. There was a time when angry, probably in rage, while riding a horse I ran over him. And there were times when I, while riding my bike on our gravel driveway, Steve loosened the nuts on my front tire, I would do a jump and the tire would come off and I would eat gravel. And don’t think it all mean, or bad just a lot. Steve and I can laugh now because we are developing a relationship with each other.

Needless to say Steve’s and mine relationship growing up wasn’t great, and our love for one another stemmed from abuse of one another. Steve, after school until now, has been spent mostly in jail and prison. And my attitude about it was he deserved what he got for the things he did. To be honest I committed some of the same criminal acts that he did and I had deserved to be locked up too. But for the Grace of God is why I didn’t and the only reason I can think that I didn’t. Over the years Steve had asked for support by letter writing, financial support with meeting his hygiene needs and my response out of bitterness was always no. Just before he went back to prison this time, we had started talking and he was getting cleaned up off drugs or so I was told, he had called needing to borrow some money. He told me the reason and this was when I was in the beginning of cleaning my life up and learning to submit to God myself. So I believed him and even felt bad for him, I didn’t have the money so I borrowed it with the condition it had to be paid back by a certain time. Well he didn’t and to make matters worse ended back in jail waiting to return back to prison. This was the last straw, I would never forgive him this time I told myself and wrote it off never again to have anything do with him. He went back to prison and again was asking for me to write him without asking for money. I did write two or three times out of guilt but nothing steady.

Here is where God starts softening my heart and at first I was rebellious towards the conviction. I had moved back to Texas from Oregon and was staying with my mother and sister. Billisa had been writing Steve and Mother was sending him a little money. So Billisa talked me into start writing once in a while. Now I want to add that at this time I have been devoted to serving Christ for about five years, some of us grow slower I guess. Besides we are not in a race to see how fast we grow. I met my wife Mary and learned of her strong Christian values to take care of your own family. And it was through watching her care for her father that I started being convicted concerning Steve. Through many talks with Mary and much prayer I started asking God to teach me how to love Steve. I believe God spoke to my heart telling me I needed not only forgive Steve but I needed to seek forgiveness from God and Steve. I in my prayers starting asking how, plus I started asking for prayer from my church. I was ok with writing but had vowed never to set foot in a prison, even for my brother. Might I add don’t tell God you’ll never do something or go somewhere. I believe today God called me to go to the prison to seek my brother’s forgiveness through forgiving him. We made plans, did all the necessary criteria to go visit him. It was on a Sunday and in Sunday school I had asked prayer for this, because I was anxious. For it had been 25 years since I had seen Steve. That is where the bitterness took me. It was a two-hour drive and I had to pray to fight off turning back. I am so glad and Praise and Thank God for His Strength because of the relationship Steve and I are developing. Now I know this is All God because when we met the first thing that happened was Steve asked me to forgive him, I just cried because it was me who needed to forgive him. This was with us being separated by a thick sheet of glass. I just wanted to reach for him to hug and kiss him. What is even more exciting to know is Steve knows Christ? We could not wait for the next visit because I could finally get to put my arms around Steve and hug him, and we did. I MISSED MY BROTHER for once I truly missed Steve, and we hugged for the longest time, I did not want to let him go. I held on tight and just cried. The beauty in those tears is the healing that took place. Mary, my wife couldn’t hold back tears either. As we were holding each other it was as though God was removing all the bitterness and animosity. From there Mary and I were lead and are lead to support him any way we can. And the changes we are seeing in him are amazing. When we first met there appeared to be someone not just behind bars but a man in chains to loneliness, not to mention the chains I was in and not behind bars. See we can be in bondage to a lot of things and never set foot in jail or prison. Christ’s Love and Forgiveness sets captives Free. We are getting to minister to my brother and he is changing and growing, not because we are lead to just support him It’s because I believe we are learning to love each other. Supporting him comes from Christ’s Love. I want to add that my sister Billisa is not in prison behind bars but is in bondage of other things and we are learning to love each other as well. If you’re the prayer warriors I’d like to believe you are please pray that my family will seek Christ’s Love in our relationships and continue to grow in Christ.

To the reader if you are in bondage to anything, I pray you will seek Christ to be set free. JOHN 8:31-32 says; 31) To the Jews, who had believed Him, Jesus said, “ If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32) Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

In Christ
Bart

© Copyright By Bart Hickey, All Rights Reserved, 2011 and 2012

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Comments
  1. What a wonderful testimony to forgiveness Bart…and yes I will pray for your family and the love for your siblings. It is hard to forgive especially ourselves, but you are following and obeying the Lord now so all will be as should be. I will pray that this is the last time Steve ends up in prison. God Bless you all. Love and Prayers to you and Mary!!!

  2. ptl2010 says:

    O the wonderful love of God. Praise The Lord!

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