Letting Go of the Fire
There is a lot going on in this post. So I am just going to dive right in.
My little brother and his family are estranged from our family. I haven’t seen them for 3 years and haven’t spoken to them in 2 and a half. My brother and I did not have any direct conflict or grievance. We were cut out more out of association than anything else.
This situation has been really hard for me. I have felt the low-level anxiety and weight of a riff un-healed for years. I am an Enneagram 8 (if you are unfamiliar with the Enneagram, get on it!), I can have the hard conversation. I am not scared of confrontation. What really made it hard was I could not have the hard conversation. He made it clear we were not to contact them. My brother lives in Yakima and I had contemplated many times driving up and having a knock down drag out. Let's figure this out and move on. Yet I never went. Something always held me back. I would describe it as, I needed to bring love and I felt like I would bring the hammer.
A couple months ago Annika and I were doing a listening prayer together. What I saw was myself holding a cast iron wood stove. I was holding it up and most of the time there were just embers in the stove, but sometimes it would get hot. I would be struggling and holding it, then Jesus would come over with a big vat of water. I would put the stove in and it would cool. He did this for me a couple times, then he said to me “I can keep bringing you water to cool this thing down, or you can give me the stove.”
As I thought about it, I was like yes I want to give this up, but I didn’t know how. As I talked it through with Annika, my friends and my family it became clear to me that a lot of the weight of the stove was wrapped into my brother. He had hurt me deeply with his silence. I had reached out a few times when our lives hit major milestone (both highs and lows) and wanted to share. But received silence, and in my heart I knew I had a deep anger at this. In my head it was righteous. How could my brother not acknowledge my suffering or my joy?
As the Christmas season came upon us I realized I felt called to go to Yakima. I am often a person in motion. I felt like I needed to give the stove to Jesus there. So I went. I went through all the emotions as I drove the 2.5 hours up. I hadn’t talked to him for 2.5 years. The last I knew he worked at Costco in the Butchery. So I went to Costco. I walked around for 45 minutes and rubbernecked every employee. I finally asked one of the guys putting meat out if he still worked there. He said no, he hadn’t worked there for a year. He told me he worked at a farm about 15 minutes from there. I drove there but it was dark and closed to the public. So I texted him. I said "Hi, I am in Yakima. I am here to give you a Christmas card, tell you I love you and I miss you. If you don’t text back that is okay." I will wait around for a little, then I will leave. I just want you to know I am here. I didn’t get a response from him or from his wife.
So I drove home.
On the way home I was processing what just took place. I realized that before this event, when I had thought about going to Yakima I had wanted to go to give my brother the stove. I wanted him to feel the weight and burden. I wanted him to know he had hurt me and it was not okay. Yet that was not what I was called to do. He didn’t say throw it off a cliff, set it down, or forget it. He said I will take it. I didn’t just give up my anger, I gave up my power. I gave up my resentment, my bitterness and self-righteousness. My brother take couldn’t hold all that, yet before this I wanted to give him it.
Do you have a stove buried deep in your heart? Jesus wants to take it for you. It may take years. I have a three year theory. It takes me three years to get anything right. I laughed as I drove home and realized it was three years since I last saw him. Three years feels like an eternity but it has been a consistent theme in my adult life.
Jesus wants your stove.
The one you are angry at cannot handle your stove.
It weighs YOU down. It is a burden that YOU carry.
It may be anti-climactic. You may not get to have resolution with your loved one. You may not get to talk to them, but when the time comes, there will be FREEDOM to love them, to hug them, and to move past.