Today, I am in mourning. Today, a community is in mourning.
This weekend, I lost a brother. He may not have been a biological brother, but he was my brother.
You could argue what a brother means, but to me, a brother is a close friend that you love as family. Brotherhood is something that is close to my heart, because I have a close love for friendship.
When I was in high school, my actual brothers were a tough situation. My older brother resented me, and my younger brother has autism, and can be difficult to get along with at times. So it was tough living with my brothers.
What I did have, was my church family. I didn’t start attending until I was in high school, and I found my church family. I made many friends that I loved just as I love my family. These were my brothers.
One of those brothers, we lost this weekend. Ryan was an incredible young man. He had a smile and personality that brighten up a room. The love that he had for his family and the people around him was something I always admired. Ryan was one of the first people I met when I first went, and I always took a liking to him and his family.
Ryan may not have been my blood family, but Ryan was my brother. He was the brother I had to crack jokes with, to wrestle with, to love, to cry with, to vent to, and to have. We had great times at Lake James church camp, our many church conference trips, rooming together in Missouri, and our endless trips to Mcdonalds after youth groups. I will cherish these memories always.
But I am guilty to not seeing that Ryan was hurting as much as he was. I am in regret that I lost touch with my Ryan when I left for college, and I wish I could have talked with him once more, to show him how much we all loved him. But he knew that he was loved. The outcrying support and mourning from our community shows that he was. The bible calls us to love our fellow Christians as brothers, and that’s what a family does, and that what we are.
Friends love through all kinds of weather, but families stick together in all kinds of trouble. -Proverbs 17:17
We all miss Ryan, and we will all be hurting from his loss, but his death has changed a lot of our perspectives on each other. I am just as guilty as we all are of taking each other for granted. So many times, we will use each other, abuse, and hurt, and just think that these words will just pass, even if we don’t realize it, but yet, we don’t appreciate our relationships.
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! -Psalm 133:1
Through all this pain, and through all this mourning, I know that God has a plan. I find rest in the comfort in the fact that God loves us, more than we could ever love anything else, so much, than we can’t understand the gravity of this love.
We all have a time that we have to go. For some of us, it is closer than others, and some of us, we have a long time left to go. But no matter how the dice roll, God has a plan for us, and His will is perfect, regardless of our own understanding of where life will go. God loves Ryan, more than we ever could, and hurts just as we are hurting.
Next time you see a brother, or sister, or family member that you love, even if they might not be blood, hug them, talk with them, and tell them how much they mean to you, because you don’t know what they may be going through, and you don’t know if it will be your last time you will see them.
Ryan’s death is tragic, but it taught me a valuable lesson. Never take your brother for granted, and always hold them close, because you never know what day will be your last time together.
To those of you who might not have known Ryan, I’m sure you have experienced some sort of loss in your life. So let this inspire you to love and keep your brothers and sisters close in unity.
To those of you who did know Ryan, you can join me in saying that his smile, his friendship, and his life will be something that will always be remembered, and something that we can model for our lives.
I am in a deep mourning for the loss of my brother and the pain that his family is going though. I loved Ryan as though he was my own, and will always miss him until my day comes around, but let his life be a lesson, that we can love each other more, and to never take each other for granted.
Rest in Peace Brother. I love you.