I have one sibling, a younger brother named Daniel. He’s 3 years younger than me, which makes him 30 years old.
The two of us were always very close growing up, except during certain times when he thought it would be funny to shoot me in the butt with a pellet gun, or when he’d decide to try shooting me with a rock from his slingshot. Other than that, childhood together consisted of two brothers who felt they could take on the world together. We did fight a bit from time to time, but what siblings don’t?
As an adult, Daniel grew as bitter as I was toward church. In fact, it just might be possible he hated church and the “saints” who attend even more than I did. Where I attempted to drown out my anger and frustrations using porn production and rebellion, Daniel chose meth and alcohol. In 2005 I forced him to move from Las Vegas to Chico to live with me for awhile because his meth use was close to killing him. There was no way I was going to sit around and wait for him to die, so I packed as much of his stuff as I could fit into my Explorer, evicted him from his apartment and got him away from the so-called “friends” with whom he enjoyed shooting up.
For some reason he’s always been in the habit of not just using, but seriously abusing his drug of choice. One example is with his alcohol consumption: where other alcoholics might be happy to just be drunk all the time, Daniel chooses to drink half a gallon of vodka per day. He was recently at a doctor’s office having his shoulder examined. His doctor asked about alcohol use and Daniel was honest with him. At that point the doctor let him know that there really was no point treating his shoulder because his alcoholism was going to kill him soon anyway.
I’ve fought pretty hard to make my brother seek professional help, as has my father. He hasn’t wanted to listen. He is of the opinion that when he’s ready to quit he’ll just do so on his own. Because of this, our relationship is not nearly as close as it once was. We’ll sometimes go a few months without talking.
THIS PAST MONDAY:
This past Monday I decided to drive to the small mountain town where both my brother and my father live. My dad had an errand to run so I waited at his house. When Daniel called to give my dad his new phone number, I answered instead. He was surprised I was in town.
“Dad told me you want to talk to me about this new life you’re doing. You can talk to me anytime you want, bub.”
An hour or so after our telephone conversation I drove over to talk to him in person. He let me know how surprised he was that I was “going back to church again”. I asked him if he wanted to hear some of the reasons why I’d chosen to do so. He said he’d listen.
“But honestly, Don, I believe in God but I don’t believe in Jesus or the Bible and I never will.”
I started sharing with him some of the things that I’ve been reading and experiencing that have been rewiring my mind. We talked for a long time about the Christians from our past, mutual frustrations we’ve had, anger and a wide variety of other Christian oriented topics.
I pointed out to Daniel that the hatred coming out of his mouth was hatred toward PEOPLE, not toward God or Jesus. I started showing him scriptures that demonstrated Jesus was all about love, not condemnation and judgment. I read to him from Blue Like Jazz and Velvet Elvis, two books that have changed my life.
Over the course of the time we talked I could see tears forming in my brothers eyes. The message of love, not judgment, is something all of us need to hear. It’s so important to separate the love our father has for us from the hatred the “saints” so often show. There is nothing unattractive about a perfect, pure love. Nothing.
I could write several pages about the conversation we had that night, but what it boils down to is this:
I HAD THE PRIVILEGE OF LEADING MY LITTLE BROTHER BACK TO A RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD!
Yep, he invited Jesus Christ back into his life this past Monday.
I explained to Daniel that Jesus isn’t going to beat him up if his alcohol problem doesn’t immediately go away. All he wanted was for Daniel to reach out to him first, and he’d take care of the rest.
“Do you want to go to a crazy church service with me this Friday, Dan?”
“Sure, why not?”
“Okay, I’ll be back Friday morning to pick you up. You can stay at my house.”
The service was different than anything from our past. It touched him. Like mine, his mind has begun to be rewired as well.
Out of respect for me (and because he knows he needs to do it) Daniel significantly reduced his drinking when he arrived at my place. Rather than a half gallon of vodka, Daniel only consumed half a beer on both Friday and Saturday.
Last night (Saturday) Daniel and I were sitting in my room. As I’ve mentioned, I live in the master bedroom of my house. This is a living situation that will be changing this week, as I get the last of my things out of the house and turn the keys over to the bank this coming Friday. The house didn’t sell. I couldn’t afford a $3,600 per month house payment anymore and the bank finally decided not to wait any longer. That really doesn’t bother me too much, however. It’s just one more weight off my back.
Daniel was sitting on the floor watching a movie on TV while I sat in my easy chair doing a bit of writing on my laptop. As the day got later and the room darkened, the only lights came from the TV and from my computer. At 7:06pm the TV turned off and the room went completely dark. I asked Daniel to turn it back on. There was no response so I got up and turned on the light. My brother was having a seizure on the floor. He’s never had one before in his life.
That freaked me out. Big time. But I resolved to remain calm and I kept him on his side as best I could. Puke was coming out of his mouth at the same time, and it sounded like he was struggling for every breath. I dialed 911 on my cell phone, gave them my address, quickly ran to the front door to unlock it, then returned to his side while the convulsions continued. They went on for a minute and a half. I thought he was dying.
He must have been hungry because he bit a nice piece out of his tongue.
Once the convulsions had passed, and as I waited for the ambulance to arrive, I tried to communicate with my brother. Every time I’d get near him he’d scream and jump, scared out of his mind. He struggled to his feet and walked toward the bathroom. When he saw his reflection in the mirror he screamed again and fell to the floor. He had no idea what was going on.
The paramedics arrived and Daniel was taken by ambulance to the hospital. To make a long story short, we spent several hours in the ER as the doctors ran tests to see what was wrong. It turns out his body was going through alcohol withdrawals.
Daniel was given some prescription drugs to help with the withdrawal symptoms. He’s also been instructed to check into rehab ASAP because his liver is highly inflamed and the doctors don’t think he’ll live longer than a few years if he continues to drink.
Perfect timing. After his decision for Jesus on Monday he realized quitting is something he desperately needs to do. Now he has the motivation to do so, and a God he can lean on to help him through it.
Daniel is doing well today. He’s asleep on the floor in front of my television as I write this. I’d like to ask all readers to say a prayer for him as he struggles with this addiction.
These last few days he’s mentioned several times that a real God encounter is something he badly wants. Help me pray that he gets it.