Last Week my family and I enjoyed a family reunion in Gatlinburg, TN. We laughed a whole lot, hiked, ate, raced, and I mean RACED go-carts, ate, went horseback riding, ate, walked the strip, and then ate more candie apples, corndogs, and fudge.
There were many highlights, but the best was seeing my brother and his family who drove in from San Antonio, TX. You see, for over 20 years my brother hasn’t been a part of our family. He was missing on birthdays, holidays, and everyday events. Where was he? Most of the time we didn’t know where he was and neither did he. Barry is an addict. His chemical abuse has robed most of his adult life. Our trip this past week was the first time we’ve ever had that privileged of all being together. It was a blessing beyond words.
Once while my dad was video taping the group, he noticed two people were missing. (I think they were in the gift shop!) A bit frustrated, dad made the comment, “Someone is always missing when I’m trying to tape.” That’s when Barry added, “Yep, someone is missing, but it ain’t me no more, praise God, it ain’t me no more!” I just loved that!
My brother wouldn’t mind me sharing his story because he shares it everyday with whomever he meets. He can’t help it. Once you’ve been saved from such a lifestyle, you want to shout it from the rooftops, and he does.
After attending several treatment centers, Barry would eventually always find himself back on the streets seeking his drug. After meeting Jesus, Barry found new life. Now, He spends his days seeking God.
The Lord has blessed him with a godly wife,two step children, a home, and a self run business. His business is doing so well that the news station in Tx did a story on him. They compared his story to the movie, “In Pursuit of Happiness.” Barry says, “I believe I get so much business because when I bid on a job, I always share my testimony.”
Having my brother and his family join us in Gatlinburg was a long awaited answer to prayer. We all marvelled over him. We drank in his presence and his laughter. I can truly say, My brother was lost, but now he’s found! It’s so good to have him home.
God, indeed, hears and answers prayers. While we are in the wait, it’s very, very difficult. Not just for the family, but mainly on my parents and their marriage. As you can imagine… there were times of disagreement, blame, fear, hurt, and anger.
Yes, when one family member strays, it puts a strain on the entire group. There were times that I didn’t think we’d make it…when I didn’t think my parents would make it.
In these situations, I learned that forgiveness is key in conflict. Otherwise we will throw up walls, we will define ourselves as the victim and define the other person the monster. We must not define one another when faced with adversity. We must encourage and forgive. It’s the only way to survive. Of course, my husband has a different philosophy. He says the way to end conflict in marriage is to fight naked. Again, this is his philosophy.
Tomorrow, we’ll talk more about the steps we need to take in order to forgive others, ourselves, and even God. Stay tuned…