How’s It Feel To Be The Older Brother?

About a month ago, I was at rehearsal for the worship team at church.  I had shown up feeling somewhat “off,” but I couldn’t really put my finger on why.  As we were singing, I found myself multitasking, having a conversation with God about how unsettled I felt.  Suddenly, this image of my ex-husband came to mind, and I immediately felt this surge of anger.

God: Why so angry?

Me: Uh, do You really need to ask that?  You know what he did.  I’m pretty much going to be angry about this forever.  I have to be.  If I stay angry, my guard stays up, and he can’t manipulate me anymore.

God: That’s a terrible way to go through life.  But I know your heart, and there’s more to this.

Me: Nope.

God: Ok, so pray for him.

Me: Excuse me?

God: Pray for him.

Me: How about no.  Buckets of no.

God: Why not?

Me: I believe deeply in prayer and in Your ability and willingness to answer.  If I pray for him, I’m afraid You’re actually going to bless him.

God: So you’re being selfish…and afraid.  Why would you be afraid of Me blessing him?

Me (feeling pretty indignant): Are You kidding?  Look what he did to me, to our family!  Even if he turned his heart back to You – for real – for him to prosper, to get Your blessing is just…wrong!

God: Hmmm.  How’s it feel to be the Older Brother?

Me: Huh?

God: The parable of the Prodigal Son.  You’re the Older Brother.  You’re so concerned with how I bless him, even though it doesn’t change how I bless you.  Why do you care?

Me: BECAUSE!  Because if You bless him, somehow it negates what he did, what I went through.  It proves that the rules really don’t apply to him, that he can do whatever he wants and still prosper.

God: You don’t trust Me.

Me: Yes I do.

God: Not with this.

Me: I’m supposed to trust You to vindicate me.  How am I vindicated if You’re blessing him??

God: Do you really think you see the whole picture?  And you want vindication, but I want you to be whole.  How can you be whole if you continue to carry around so much anger and fear?  How whole can you be when your anger and fear keep you from praying for someone who needs Me?  I have vindicated you and will continue to do so, but it might not look like what you think it should.  And you have wrestled so much lately with the loneliness of your heart, but until you let go of this anger and fear, you won’t be ready for the man I’m preparing for you.

It should be noted that having this kind of conversation while singing worship music at the same time is a mess.  But getting my heart right was worth it, and perhaps there’s no better place and time for that to happen.

I went home that night, put my daughter to bed, and sat for a long time, not quite sure what to say.  I knew I wasn’t yet ready to go all out praying for God’s best for my ex-husband, but I also knew that I needed to do something.

Ok, God.  I don’t know how to pray for Nathan yet, and I’m not sure I can pray for You to bless him, but I bring Nathan before You.  I ask that Your will be done in his life, and I ask that You change my heart to eventually see him through Your eyes.

It wasn’t a perfect prayer, but it was a start.  And if it keeps me from being the Older Brother, even better.