You may think that this is all about the love of a husband, partner, or best friend. Although, I cherish that love more than any other earthly one, this is not about that gem.
I didn’t notice the true gems of this picture for more than a year now. And still, I’m noticing more. If you look closely, you’ll see my brother Nathan who is barely made it in the frame on the right, and my dad in the bottom left corner. They may be the true gems of this picture for me – at least for today. 😉
Nathan, just 2 years older than me, was always around. He protected me to a certain extent, but even more so made sure that I grew up to protect myself. A distinct memory that sticks with me and illustrates this point took place in high school. A friend – who was, gasp, a BOY – began to reach out and give me a hug. Nathan was walking out of a door down the hall, looked over & noticed, and called out, “Don’t touch him!”
I think a typical brother thing would have been to say, “Don’t touch my sister!” But, instead, he – in his high school, wise brain – intuitively wanted to make it known that I had power in this situation.
That incident was not harmful, and a friendly hug (it really was just friendly, I promise) did not matter much. But, in that moment, I learned something deep down. And, maybe in that moment, I didn’t realize the implication, and Nathan might not have either.
I learned that I wouldn’t always be able to control what other men or people around me might do. But, I could control what I did. I think that is true empowerment. Rather than placing all the power on the external force, he empowered me to think about what I was doing, no matter how seemingly small or meaningless. He empowered me to see that just because somebody initiated something, it didn’t mean I had to go along with it. In this low risk scenario, I saw the choice and responsibility in the little things.
Nathan has always been protective of both me and my sister Stephanie in different ways. When Josh and I first started dating, Nathan’s true big brother instincts came out. In my 19-year-old mind, I didn’t understand completely the love that this protection held with it. But, I think this photo shows it so clearly to me. The way that Nathan takes ownership and personal investment over the joys of my life shows the way that he loves.
My eyes got teary as I noticed that same love in my friends, brother in law, sister, and back of my dad’s head. To be truly, deeply joyful for another person is such a mark of love. I’m humbled by this undeserved love. It’s easy to overlook these symbols of love, but tonight I saw it in a brother whose head barely even made the frame of this photo.
Love exists in everybody’s life, sometimes you just have to look harder for it. Do you agree?