Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sell All You Have

We attended a wedding yesterday which was boycotted by the bride's brother. He is furious that his ex-wife was one of the attendants and told his sister "You no longer have a brother." This type of drama queen behavior has been coming from him for several years now, worsening over the last two. This particular sister was the one he was closest to, who defended him longest, and even when he was at his most vindictive continued to visit and keep clear of the controversy.

His father is heartbroken, and keeps replaying old conversations in his head, hoping to find some slight thaw in his son's attitude, some ember that might be nursed into a flame. I fear that gradual softening may not provide the solution.

Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell all that he had. We usually think of this verse as cautionary that we do not become too attached to the riches of this world. We think of it as a general admonishment about wealth that applies to all of us somewhat, rather than a specific direction to a specific individual. But if we think of "all that we have" as a more general category than money and goods, we might find the command applies to all of us.

This young man's resentment is his greatest treasure, the one he has sold everything else to possess. We think of resentment as a burden, but many of us do treat it as a treasure. Our self-pity is our pearl of great price. This man will find no freedom in small gestures or middling attempts. He must sell it all and give it away to be free. It is a hard cost and a brutal price.

I have to wonder what my own greatest treasure is.


@nooil4pacifists said...

Well said.

Anonymous said...

I would like to comment from the perspective of the brother. If I had recently gone through a very painful divorce, I probably would not want to see my X-wife at my sister's wedding.

Now, I know that I do not know these people but I can not but ask the question, did she tell her brother at the time of the invitation that his X-wife was in the wedding party or did he have to find out through his children? Was she so close to the X-wife that she needed to be in the wedding party? Could she have simply been a guest? Did she ask her brother before inviting the X-wife to be in the wedding party whether or not this would be emotionally difficult for him?

I realize it was the bride's day and she should be able to have anyone she wanted at her wedding however, how painful for the brother. Could not "dying to self" have been implemented on the part of the bride to incorporate the preferences of the brother? Would this not have been a catalyst to his return to relationship with his family of origin?

People get over emotional trauma very slowly. Everyone wants them to "get over it" and "move on" on their time-table. It does not happen that way and often, these well-meaning relatives only add more pain to an already wounded heart.

How sad that yet, another wall, has been built between the brother and his family of origin.

LD&Js Mom

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Yes, they all have asked themselves those sorts of questions over the last few years, wondering if there were some further submission or gesture they could do that would make things at least tolerable for him. His parents and this sister have in particular.

It's a fair question, and I don't wish to appear to reject it out of hand. The young man is aware that his ex-wife continues in close relationship with his family. He quickly moved on and got a live-in girlfriend. None of us doubts that he does indeed feel bad, but his doors seem to be locked from the inside. We have actually heard his side of the story in more detail than the ex's, as she tries very hard not to say anything negative about him.

I am trained by profession to wonder exactly the sort of other sides might be in play in such situations. I very rarely take a side in a divorce. It is this very unusualness that caused me to think more deeply and to post.