The Ten Commandments say that we should love one another, which is, obviously, easier said than done.
My brother, Aaron, never got along well with my dad when he was growing up: especially in his teenage years. Yeah, I understand the biology of teenage hormones, but this was not just hormones. On my dad’s side of the family there is a genetic trait known as having a really bad temper. Aaron got the entire trait, not just a fourth.
Aaron always thought that my dad’s rules were too strict, and my dad thought that my brother needed to wake up and grow up. In my family you have to grow up fast, or you’re stuck in the dust. Anyway, my brother’s high school graduation went without incident, an answer to my father’s prayers, and we took pictures and went home.
Now a graduate my brother was emboldened and suddenly realized his rights as an almost eighteen year old. It was only two weeks; at least I think it was I was only eight, that my brother moved out. It was after my sister’s and my bedtime so my parents had to wake us up so we could say goodbye. I looked out the front window and saw my brother’s car packed to the brim. He was driving away that night, where we didn’t know.
We later heard from him and discovered that he had crossed the Missouri river into Iowa, or better yet Sioux City. I hated my brother, the fights he had with my parents everything. No matter what he did I was disgusted. He left in a fit of rage from our house and said only brief goodbyes. I refused to talk to him, and I could tell that it hurt him. I blamed all the family problems on his midnight departure. In a sentence, I felt like he had abandoned us and said that we weren’t good enough for him.
He tried everything to get me to talk to him, but I never budged. My temper became short, and I got into heated discussions with my friends. They stopped talking to me, and renounced our friendship. I felt like everyone around me was leaving me. I realized that it was partly my fault and tried to find a way to fix it. None of my friends talked to me, except one: Kirsten. She came up to me at lunch one day and sat down next to me. I was surprised that she was even talking to me. I asked her why she wasn’t mad at me like the others, and she gave me an answer I will never forget. She said that everyone makes mistakes, but it doesn’t mean we should stop loving them for it.
It hit me then that, yes my brother had done wrong, but I shouldn’t stop loving him. I cried because I realized that I had never stopped loving my brother, I had just buried the love so he couldn’t see. I realized that love was created to be unconditional, not reserved only for those whom we see fit to give it too. The more love we give, the more love we’ll receive and everybody needs love.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.