Disclaimer: I know this blog may be hard for some people to understand. I cannot even begin to explain how or why I got here, except to say that God literally carried me to this place. I fully realize that not everyone may be here, but it is my prayer that you eventually get here. There is so much peace and joy here…
My brother, the subject of my story and books, will be deported before month’s end. Before you ask, I do not know how I feel about it; I am bordering on the side of apathetic, to be honest.
He is not being deported because he was here illegally, nor is he being deported as a direct result of what happened to me as a child. He is being deported because in his 28 years in this country he (1) never became a naturalized citizen (he only held legal, permanent residency) and (2) led a life filled of crime and poorly-made decisions. In a way, you can say that he is being deported as an indirect result of what happened to me and he is finally reaping all that he has sown. However you choose to define it, he will be back in his mother country in a few days, with little remaining family, no money, no clothes, and nothing to show for his almost three decades in the Land of the Free.
His life was never easy…
My brother, like all my mother’s children, was born in poverty in Jamaica during the 1970s. You know that struggle bus that we all ride sometimes? They struggled so much that they could not even afford to get on that struggle bus and I am pretty sure that my family invented that phrase. My mother only had a junior high education because education beyond that came at a cost that she could not afford. She had children at a young age and relied heavily on the support and assistance of her family in order to adequately provide for her children. In 1982 her mother gave her the opportunity to come to the United States to start over and provide a better life for her children. The only problem was that there were only three plane tickets, not the five that would be needed for my mother and her four children. Both of my brothers were left behind in Jamaica, as my mother and sisters travelled to America. My brothers were 10 and three years old; I know it was not an easy decision, but it was the best that my mother could do at that time.
While in Jamaica, my brothers bounced from one family member’s house to another because no one could really afford to care for two growing boys. From what I was told, my brothers encountered many levels of abuse (physical, emotional, and financial) from some of the family members who cared for them. I cannot even imagine the pain that they endured: no mother in sight, and abuse from those charged with their care. I get it- things were very hard for them.
Coming to America…
In 1990, eight years after my mother and sisters had come to America (and four years after my birth), my brothers were finally able to come to America. My uncle who lived in America was going back to Jamaica to get married and I was going to visit the country of my family. I am sure I was excited and nervous all at the same time, as my mother was not travelling with me and I was going to meet relatives that I had never met and did not know… two of those relatives being my brothers.
When the wedding was over, we all boarded the plane to come to America. We were finally going to be a family. All should have been right in the world…but it was not. Understandably, both of my brothers had a lot of anger towards my mother. When she left Jamaica in 1982 she was a mother of four, but now when they reconnected with her in America, she was a mother of five. In their minds, she had replaced them with me. My oldest brother appeared to have coped with this fairly well, but the younger brother was not handling this family change well at all.
At this point in the story I always talk about what happened to me because it is my story after all, however today I want to mute my story and focus on my brother’s point of view…
After being reconnected with my mother for about four years, my brother was sent to a Juvenile Detention Center because of what he did to me. Because he was a minor, he was only sentenced to three years and was released when he was 18 years old. Naturally, when he was released he was not able to come back to live with me and my mother. He floated around, living with our uncles who lived here in Maryland. He did not know that our mother was secretly sending money and clothes for him, still making sure that he was provided for. I think he assumed that my uncles were doing everything… but it was not just them. For an uneducated immigrant, mother of five working multiple jobs at one time, my mother provided as best as she could for all of her children. But this brother did not know that. By this time he was an adult and had only spent a total of seven years of his life (three in Jamaica and four in America) with his mother; he assumed that she did not love him and had never provided for him. I get it- he could not see or feel the truth and strength of his mother’s love.
From the day he got out of the Juvenile Detention Center until now, my brother has landed himself in jail multiple times for various crimes ranging from possession of marijuana, to DWI, to driving without a license, to his recent charge of second degree assault. As law enforcement officials would say, “he has a long rap sheet.” It is actually his latest charge of second degree assault and failure to comply with a restraining order that purchased his deportation ticket back to Jamaica. Because he did not become a citizen, America no longer has to put up with his criminal behavior and is well within its rights to send him back home to his mother country. So home to Jamaica he will go.
There was hope…
In 2010 my brother reached out to one of my sisters and shared that his girlfriend was pregnant. Oddly enough, the sister that he told was pregnant herself and due two months before his child was due. My sister shared this information with the family and I became excited. At that moment I had made the decision to put the past behind me and forgive him (or so I thought) so that I could be in his child’s life. My family and I opened our hearts, arms, and home to my brother and the mother of his child. It was at this time that I learned that my family had always been in contact with my brother and that my mother had never stopped being a mother to him. My family had been doing this in secret for many years, as to not hurt or offend me. To my surprise, I was neither hurt nor offended; I understood that it was a mother’s instinct to care for her child, even if he breaks or had broken her heart. I sprang into full Auntie mode and I was ready to be in this baby’s life.
We soon found out that both my sister and the mother of my brother’s child were expecting girls (technically… one baby kept hiding herself in the womb so we weren’t 100% sure). A joint baby shower was planned, by me, and we as a family made sure that we showered both women with lots of love so that their daughters could feel the love from the womb. When his daughter was born in July 2011, we rejoiced as a family because we saw the minor changes that he had made, and he finally looked like he was turning his life around.
However, from 2011 until now, demons continued to attack his mind and his drinking increased. My brother had been diagnosed in his youth with Bi-polar Disease and he used drinking and smoking as a way to cope with all of the demons that were in his life and on his shoulders. As weird as it may sound, he was still a good father to his daughter. (And by “good” I mean he did the best that he could with her and she was his source of sobriety.) When she was around, he tried not to drink and tried to be the father that she needed. He tried, he really did, but his demons continued to consume him.
Like everyone in my family except me, my brother never went to therapy. Unless there were mandatory therapy sessions ordered for him while in jail or the detention center, my brother never got help for the issues that ailed him. He used alcohol and marijuana to heal the wounds that were on him from every area of his life. He never sought proper mental health help. He never did anything to properly help himself. He just drank his pain away. And of course, he was a violent drunk. He became both verbally and physically abusive when he drank. When he drank, he would say the truth that sat on his heart, pertaining to everyone in the family…except me.
You see, I was a form of kryptonite to my brother. The foolishness and stupidity that he exhibited around other people, he did not do in front of or towards me. He has never said a cross word or so much as raised his hand to me since he came out of the detention center. In fact, if I was around, he would not even come around with drama or drunkenness. The stories that my siblings can tell of his drunken fits I know nothing about… because he could not behave that way in front of me. Even now as he sits in a cell, waiting for deportation, and asking (begging) everyone for financial help or help seeing his daughter, he has not and will not call and ask me.
What does this all mean…
In my book and in a vlog, I explained that he has apologized to me many times since our youth. I even thought that I had forgiven him back in 2010 when we found out that he would be a father. However, I realized that I had never truly forgiven him until September 2017. In fact, I had carried the pain and weight of his transgressions against me for so long that they were killing me. My time in the Dark Place was because his sins against me were literally trying to kill me. I had to learn how to forgive him so that I could live… and that is when God happened to me.
God had to begin working on me and healing me so that I could learn how to forgive my brother. To create a visual, what my brother did to me created a plumbing backup in me and not forgiving him was causing my entire system to be clogged. I could not breathe. I could not live. I could not love… all because I was still clogged by his sins. When I allowed God to help me heal, the clog was released and now I am free to breathe, live, and love again. This even allowed me to be able to accept his sincere apology that he offered in January of this year. This even allowed me to be able to write this blog.
I have said many times that hurt people, hurt people. While I make NO excuses for any of my brother’s actions because he always had a choice, I do know that he caused pain to others because he was (and still is) in pain. Hurt people may hurt people, but healed people heal people. I pray for the day when he will be freed from the demons that consume him and freed from the pain. He has caused much pain to others in his lifetime, but I know God is able to heal him and mend him.
Many will never understand how I was able to forgive him. Many will never understand why I pray for him. Many will never understand why I ask others to pray for him. My response is simple: his sins are not greater than mine and if God has forgiven and restored me, He can forgive and restore my brother. I am not better than my brother and, in God’s eye, my brother is not beneath anyone. He is still God’s creation and can still be saved. I pray for him because I want God to work on him. I sincerely desire for God to remove the demons from his life and set his soul free.
In the letter that I wrote my brother back in January, I told him the story of Joseph and his brothers. I also told him that I likened myself to Joseph and him to Joseph’s brothers. What Joseph’s brothers did to him was horrible…but God was still in the midst and had a plan for restoration and elevation behind it all.
Recalling the same story, I say this to you all: God still used Joseph’s brothers in His divine plan for His children. Despite what they had done, God forgave and used each brother for a specific role in His kingdom (remember, Jesus came from the line of Judah). God did not allow their sin against their brother to define who they would be and likewise, I will not allow my brother’s sin against me to define who he will be.
He has made many mistakes.
He is severely flawed.
But he is my brother, so I will continue to pray.
I fully realize that my prayers cannot erase his past, but they can save his future.
Even with prayers, there comes a time when we must all reap what we sow.
And for him, that time has come…
13 Replies to “That time has come…”
I needed to read this today. I can understand the feeling of being clogged and not truly forgiving someone. There is an unspoken peace that permeates through you and I when we “truly” forgive those that harm us. We must try to do so daily because God forgives us for our transgressions. I shed a tear reading this as I am sure others will as well. I will continue to pray for peace, deliverance and for God’s will to be done.
Be Blessed and continue to walk in light my Sis!
This is so amazing, Trina. I promise you, forgiving others is probably the hardest thing that we will ever have to do… but it is so necessary!!! We cannot live a “clogged” life forever…especially if we want to be free. I am continuing to pray for you; through God we can and we will overcome!
I declare to live a my life “unclogged”, so that I can have the freedom of happiness.
I touch and agree with you! Amen; thank You, Lord!
“Tears” all I can say is But God, Only God and Praise God! Michelle thank you so much for your transpency and your allowing your readers to understand the true definition of forgiveness. Thank You
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The Lord placed this on my heart because He knows that we all struggle with forgiveness…But we must forgive! Forgiveness brings healing, reconciliation with God, and freedom. We must forgive! Thank God!
Michelle, thank you so much for sharing and encouraging. Often we forget that forgiveness is not just for the other person, it’s also for us as well. I remember my stages of forgiveness against the person that offended me and I couldn’t believe that God was calling me to forgive him. Then after God told me to forgive him, he told me to pray for him. At that time I truly thought that I was going crazy! But I did as God said and even got to the point in my prayers that I would hope that nothing bad would happen to him. The pastor said, “well it’s not up to us… God has the final say, and those that do not abide by the law of the lord, they shall reap!” As yes,…. he is reaping, but just like you.. I’ll continue to pray that God keeps his hands on him! I’m so inspired by the words on this page and your story. I just pray that you continue to allow God to use you as his vessel and that you continue to be the change that we need to see. Be blessed!
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Thank you so much for your words, Ella. I remember my stages of forgiveness with my brother: hatred, no forgiveness, tolerance, some more forgiveness, resentment, (and now) complete forgiveness. It wasn’t an easy road but there really is more peace over here. In the letter that I gave him, I told him that I forgave him and that it was time for him to forgive himself. It is my prayer that he learns how to forgive himself so that he can find peace through God.
This should be our prayer with all of those who hurt us. Something deeper than we can see causes people to intentionally hurt us. We do not wrestle against flesh and blood so we must continue to pray for those who hurt us, praying that God would release that which binds that person.
Please keep me in your prayers as I continue to yield and bend to God’s will.
This was really powerful and it shows your growth and strength. Your story is so relatable to so many people. Thank you for sharing it. I will begin to pray with you for your brother. 💜
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Thank you, Lisa. That was something that God had to bring to me often in order for me to understand: my story may be unique, but it is also common. At its core, we all need to work on forgiveness, healing, loving others, etc. Thank you for your prayers. ❤
Thank you for sharing your life, and Christ living in and through you. Whenever I have had someone to forgive for hurting me, and especially if I didn’t feel like it, it just took a split second flashback to how much Jesus Christ forgave me of, and how He suffered.
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Amen! Yes, that’s all it takes! And He intentionally reminds us to make it easier to forgive. Be blessed!