Before It’s Too Late

It has been many years since my brother and I last spoke. I don’t remember all the words we said before we went our separate ways. I was a Christian who was speaking what I thought to be truth and he was an atheist. The only atheist in my family as far as I knew. We clashed on many different issues. Homosexuality, evolution, etc… I took the Bible as the ultimate truth. So by quoting it, I always felt justified and had my feelings confirmed by scripture. He disagreed. It drove a wedge between us.

My brother and his family moved from New Hampshire out to Iowa. It was a near guarantee that I would never see him again. Having differing views about nearly everything and living so far apart put too much distance between us. It was hard, letting him go. I was determined to be a good Christian though and I took the Bible at its word. I was to try to reach the lost and if they refused to listen to reason, I was to let them go and not associate with them any longer. “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14)

I moved on and lived my life as if I had no brother. No sister either, if I am being honest. My sister and her family also moved away. They live out in Texas now. Although my sister was a believer, she was a more casual observer of the faith and I was more involved. I remember my wife and I skipping her bridal shower because we would have had to miss church that day and I couldn’t allow that. I could have skipped one day of church to share a once in a lifetime event with my sister, but I didn’t. And I regret it. It’s been years since I have spoken with her as well. Living life without being able to share it with my siblings and without my parents who have long since passed away is a sad thing. And though I have carried on without them, I still miss and love them.

As time has gone on, I have been thinking more and more about my brother. I stopped using Facebook or any other social media (aside from WordPress) many years ago. Keeping in touch with people became much more difficult. I set up a “dummy account” on Facebook last night to see what my brother has been up to. What I found shocked me and I am still a bit overwhelmed by the news I saw. It appears that I have lost my brother and I wont ever be able to speak with him again to say the words I needed to say to him. However…

No, my brother is not dead. He is just not my brother any longer. It seems as though I have gained a sister as my brother has come out as a transgender woman. This was quite the shock to me. My wife had checked his page a few years back and saw that he appeared to be remarried to a woman after being divorced from his first wife with whom he has two children. He is still married to this new wife. He is just a she now, but still happily married. As for me? Mind blown.

Now, if I had been keeping up with him and really knowing him like I should have as his brother, maybe I would have seen some signs of him being unhappy with himself or maybe he would have shared more with me. But after so many years have passed, it was not what I had expected to find. So what was my reaction? Was I sickened? Was I hurt? Did I wish ill-will towards him? Did I turn away in disgust? No. I smiled. A nice big one too. And that’s a huge change from who I used to be.

As a believer in the Bible as I was for so many years, reacting to the news of my brother becoming a woman would have done all those things to me that I listed above, with the exception of wishing ill-will. I never wished that on anyone. But, I would have been sickened. I would have been hurt that he could do that to our family. I would have turned away in disgust. Why? Why would I treat family like that? Because I was programmed to do so. I was taught about the “unnatural” and the “sinful” ways of the world. Any one of the letters in LGBTQ were worthy of hell according to what I was taught. But that was then and this is now.

I regret who I once was. I hate how I thought about things. I hate how I treated people. I hate how I pushed away everyone in my life who was different because I thought I was the only one who “got it.” As a believer, all the things in the Bible that condemned LGBTQ people were things I agreed with…even if I didn’t. It was the old “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.” mentality. My personal beliefs were pushed deep down inside of me until everything I was taking in, I was able to spit back into the faces of those who were not like me. I won’t dance around this. I refuse to sugarcoat it. I was wrong. Period.

I sent my new sister a message through Facebook and I have yet to hear back. I hope we can mend our fractured relationship and start over. I don’t know how this will turn out. I know that harsh words were said. Feelings were hurt. And bonds were broken. I will never be able to take back all the things I said. The words are out there. All I can do now is conduct myself with honor and dignity and treat people with the respect they deserve. All I can do is be compassionate and understanding. What I can do is be a good person because it is the right thing to do. I won’t be good for some eternal reward. Being good is its own reward.

So although my brother Fred is no longer with us and I can never speak with him again about anything, I hope to rebuild the bridge that was burned with the sister I never met, Heather. Time will tell, but if no effort is made, it will be too late. I have another sister who I haven’t spoken with in a long time also. I hope I can reunite with her as well. We’ll see how things go. One step at a time. This is a lot to take in. But you only get one life that is guaranteed to spend with your family. I have to at least try.  Life is far too short to be silent as the sand runs out of the hourglass.

 

30 thoughts on “Before It’s Too Late

  1. What a story, and to be honest, your response does not surprise me, so many people report that they are more accepting post faith. I hope there is a good result from this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I hope for a good result as well. I made the first move. I will sit back and wait. There may be a lot of emotions preventing contact or delaying it. I won’t push my way back in but if there is mutual interest in restoring our relationship, I will be here ready.

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  2. Wow, what a story – thanks, Ben. I have a somewhat similar story, although in my case it’s my sister who is the fundamentalist and it doesn’t end well.

    We always had a somewhat rocky relationship and I’d go for years without hearing anything from her. After our father died I completely lost track of her, didn’t even know where she was living most of the time. When our mother began to reach the end of her life and went into hospice care she started to become more friendly and open. I suppose the emotions of our mother’s passing overcame whatever it was that was influencing her. I eventually learned she belonged to one of the most rabidly fundamentalist churches I’d ever heard of. I mean this place was nasty. Allegedly she and another church member went to a funeral where they felt it was their duty to inform the mourners that the deceased was now burning in hell for all eternity because she wasn’t a believer. And from some of the things she let slip, yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised if she really did that.

    After our mother died, she was still almost friendly, the person I knew before she “got religion”, so to speak. But that didn’t last long. After we finished dealing with the estate, eventually selling the farm, etc. I sent her a Christmas card only to get a tersely worded text message back telling me she didn’t do christmas cards and not to contact her again and, well, that was it. Haven’t heard from her since then. And if that’s the way she wants it, well, so be it. Someone suggested that the only reason she was nice to me in the first place was because I was the executor of the estate and she wanted to make sure she got the money without any problems. I don’t want to believe that, but, well, the timing would be about right to support that.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. That’s sad. It’s really too bad. I know a little bit about how estate stuff works unfortunately. It was a strain on my siblings and I when my Mom passed and between my wife and her brother when her father passed.

      Religion just adds fuel to the fire. It’s funny how I thought Christianity (my drug of choice) was the pathway to peace, love and prosperity. Turns out those things began to materialize after leaving it behind.

      I just hope to reconcile with my sister before it’s too late. I was estranged from my mother for almost two years before I was “the bigger man” and made amends. She died less than two months later. So much wasted time over petty stuff.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It was a very strange situation, Ben, and I’m not really sure what in the world happened. Things seemed to be going pretty good up until we finally sold the farm. Not long after that things started to get difficult and her whole attitude changed. Perhaps because I was pleasant to her she originally thought I agreed with her point of view and finally realized I was disturbed by her and her religion? I have no idea.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow what a story Ben. I hope your sibling responds back to you. If not, that’s all you can do unfortunately. It sucks what religion can do to people’s relationships.
    Although a little different, your story makes me think of what I’m going through at the moment. I have been telling some Christian friends I’m no longer Christians. As for one of them, who was a close friend, our friendships have become a bit strained. On the surface, we are friends, but things have become tense and awkward. The thing is, I kinda felt forced to share my newfound beliefs with them, there was no alternative except to lie, but screw that.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I always thought that when relationships were strained or were destroyed completely by my faith in God it was just the “persecution” the Bible talked about. I thought it meant I was a faithful follower and I was on the right path. Looking back, I was just an asshole and couldn’t see it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah yes the favourite P word. Most Christians in the western world haven’t experienced persecution. If someone critiques your beliefs or questions you it isn’t persecution. What it does do however, is make Christians get defensive and think that they must be in the right – “if everyone is against you, you MUST be doing something right”.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s what the church teaches. If someone disagrees with you, you’re being persecuted and you are to feel good about it. It just means the Bible is true. *Sigh*

        Liked by 1 person

  4. If it were me I’d continue to reach out. I have my own story—losing family because of belief. This kind of result from faith is global and the biggest problem the world faces.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. You only get one shot at having a good life. If family is important to you then you need to swallow your pride and make an effort. So I did. It’s been a long time and I have many regrets. I would have so many more if I didn’t try though.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Family relationships can be tough, Ben. Prayers and hope that you will be able to reconnect.

    You can’t change the past, but you’re doing what you can to make a difference now, and that’s all any of us can do.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Very touching story, Ben. You should be proud of yourself for the way in which you have grown and evolved to become so introspective. It’s not easy to be so honest with yourself especially over something so important. I believe it will be a worthwhile endeavor to pursue a reconciliation with your sister. You’re approaching it with love & understanding & compassion, and that will prevail in the end. Your sense of remorse and sorrow will win her over. And neither of you will ever regret it. Peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Well, HELLO Heather! This is your new brother, Ben. He looks the same as your old brother, but it’s not him. Your table is over there, by the window. Yes, the wine is on the house. We suspect you’re going to enjoy many bottles.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Very poignant. It touches me. My best friend from high school came out as transgender several years ago. Fortunately for the both of us, I was able to be supportive when I got the news.

    We’re still friends.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow. What a story. I hope your sister can find it within to start anew and let the past be the past.

    Ben, we all have regrets in this life. Don’t let yours get you down. You have come a long way from the depths of indoctrination. Got nowhere to go but up from here. 🙂

    Anyone who has the balls to own up to their mistakes, and the courage to apologize for those mistakes, has earned my respect. And that doesn’t happen much these days…

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Hey Ben thinking of you.! Thanks for sharing your life and being vulnerable. We are nothing without love and I pray your relationship will be reconciled between the two of you. 💕

    Like

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