I’ve Always Wanted a Big Brother

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In the fascinating personality model of the Enneagram, I’m a Type 4, the individualist. Type 4’s are generally introverted, introspective, creative, and — best of all — deeply emotional. Everything profoundly affects us 4’s, from sunsets to dog movies to every single word everyone has ever said to us.

More than any other type, the 4 feels he is cut from a different cloth than the rest of humanity. The 4 craves a rescuer to save him from his plight, and while my spirit clings to Jesus as my ultimate rescuer, my heart can’t help yearning for another, more tangible saving one.

Amid this particular arena of same-sex attraction, my Type 4 self hungers for the love of another man to save me — but, as I wrote previously, rarely the love of a romantic partner.

For most of my life, I’ve wanted the love of a big brother.

A couple years ago, a Christmas commercial wrecked me — the usual for a Type 4 — and I wrote on my other blog about this big brother hole in my life. In times of uncertainty and confusion, especially, these brotherly longings swirl most vigorously.

I got to searching videos on YouTube the other night, and what I found wrecked me. I started following a rabbit trail of “big brother surprises little brother” videos, where big strong active military guys opened a door or turned a corner and surprised their innocent unaware little brothers.

All the videos ruined me, but this particular reaction broke me the most:

I’ve watched this video probably a dozen times; it keeps drawing me back for reasons I uncover with each subsequent viewing.

The little brother’s military shirt in honor of his big brother.

The little brother’s gasp and covering of emotions at the sight of his big brother in the shadows.

The little brother’s rush to fall into his big brother.

The little brother’s refusal to let go of his big brother.

The big brother’s holding of his little brother, stroking his back, and kissing the top of his head repeatedly.

And the big brother holds and strokes and kisses his little brother as long as he needs him to.

I find myself living vicariously through the little brother, always wanting a big brother to hold me like that, especially in times of mourning and madness: when I moved as a kid, when my dog died in college, toward the end of a continental road trip, and even now as I try to piece a new life together.

I’ve always wanted to press into someone bigger than me, someone stronger, someone wiser. A big brother to hold me, a big brother to comfort me, a big brother to tell me everything will be okay because he’s right there and he’s not going to let me go.

As the oldest of three kids, I’ll never know the feeling of a big brother by blood, and that honestly pricks my heart. Looking back on these last five years, I realize many of my friendships with opposite-sex attracted (OSA) males have been repeated, often feeble, attempts to secure the big brother I’ve never had yet always wanted, obsessing over guys to the point of idolization and eventually parting ways with the older brother figure who, in fact, did not rescue me from my plight.

And this Type 4’s savior search continues.

I know I’ve matured a lot in the last five years. I’m grasping more that no human can fully “rescue” me, that only Jesus can provide what my soul truly craves — a reason to live.

Jesus has indeed rescued me from a purposeless void, filling me with these passions to write and tell my story and connect my journey with others as I go — as all of us crawl and stagger and go.

I don’t know that I’ll ever fully lose these heartbeats of longing for that big brother figure, or if I’ll ever find him. A big brother to shove me when I tell a stupid joke. A big brother to tell me to go away when I follow him around too much.

But ultimately, a big brother to wrap his arms around me when I’m hurting. A big brother to guide me, a big brother to protect me, a big brother to pray over me.

A big brother to stand beside, to look up to, and see strength. Strength in him, strength in me.

Do you have a big brother? Tell us about your relationship with him. Are you the oldest like me or an only child, and have you ever wanted a big brother figure in your life?

* Photo courtesy ophilos, Creative Commons.

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  • Jeremy

    Thanks for your post and the vid. Yes, touched me too. But older bro? Had one of those, though he was more like a twin except in his lording it over the rest of the minion bros (3 of us), cos we were only 14 months apart. He always put the “I’m the eldest of us so it’s my privilege” thing and took the best seat, the first place, etc. To have had a much older bro. who looked out for me would have been different. I’m a bit old for that now though, lol! Anyone want an older bro? Here I am! Lol! I have the privilege of a much younger companion, but don’t ever think of him as a bro. At school I swooned over older guys, especially if they said something kind to me. If they were kind I would do anything for them, though they never really asked.

    • Wow, so many brothers. Would have been interesting to have more than just the one in my family!

  • Paul Kinney

    Tom, this huts close to my heart. I never had a blood brother , older or younger. Thankfully, God always seemed to provide one or two for me.

    • Glad for that provision, Paul! I’ve been blessed by an awesome younger brother and various friends over the years, but I just can’t shake that hole of longing for the older brother figure.

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  • Marshall R

    Tom, you already know much of my story, but I will say a few words for the rest of us. No, I never had an older brother. I was the oldest of 3 children with one brother a year younger and one sister 5 years younger. I felt like I seriously failed my own younger brother, so instead of desiring to have an older brother, I have yearned to BE an older brother to younger guys and NOT fail them! I will tell the sad story of my brother here soon…

    • You’re doing an awesome job as an older brother, Marshall. I can tell you are quite loved and appreciated in your “real life” community, as well as in this online one!

      • Thanks Tom. Yes I do feel loved by all my “younger brothers” I live with and worship God with. God has blessed me with so many and I need to tell more about them here.

  • Dean Samuels

    I have several older brothers who are less than stellar. And by that, I mean downright awful. I wish I had never met them to be honest.

    But, in a way, their terrible impact on my life has been redeemed. Because they were so bad, I swore to be a better older brother- if I ever got the chance. While I have no biological younger brothers, I have one friend who is many years my younger and calls me his older brother. He and I have a great relationship and God has allowed me to be the older brother this kid needs.

    I wish my brothers and I could have a better relationship. But knowing that it will never happen, I at least take joy in that God has allowed me to be an older brother to someone who needs it.

    • Nothing is wasted — something I have to constantly tell myself. If having several awful older brothers has only served in making you a stronger older brother figure for others, then praise be to God! I do hope you encounter redemption with your older brothers, though. I can only imagine the pain that’s been caused and felt over the years. Grateful for you, brother.

  • Kevin Frye

    I have just one brother. He’s three years older than me, but we were not close growing up. We fought all the time. We hated each other. We hurt each other a lot, both physically and other ways. We’ve since reconciled and forgiven each other, but we’re still not close. We help each other out and love each other as brothers in Christ, but there’s no real, affectionate bond between us.

    I have felt the same way as you my whole life, even though I have an older brother. I’ve always wanted some older brother figure to come and rescue me, take me away, hold me, teach me, guide me, support me, and help me through the storms of life as well as to celebrate with me when I am glad. I know your pain and longing, Tom.

    • I don’t know that I knew that about your having an older brother. I hope you guys find that place of affectionate restoration someday. In the meantime, know that you no doubt inspire the younger brothers in our midst!

  • Chris

    I don’t have any brothers; just one sister. Interestingly, I’m somewhat opposite to you. I would have preferred a younger brother to an older one. He would have been someone that I would have been a role model and a leader for although probably not quite a rescuer.

    • I’m glad you mentioned the younger brother dynamic. I definitely don’t want to grow so obsessed with my older brother pursuits that I neglect any opportunities to BE the older brother to my own younger brother or the kids I work with, etc. We all have a responsibility to mentor and raise up the younger generation, whether they differ between us by one year or one hundred!

  • Elliott Gladwin

    I have one older brother. Which you know, from my last post especially, was not the hugging, supportive type. I like you, crave an older brother to love me, guide me, walk with me and hold me. I resonate with your void of that. Sometimes I wonder which is worse, to not have an older brother at all, or to have a horrible one?

    • It’s interesting how we stand on opposing sides of this scenario, for even in your having an older brother, horrible though he’s been to you, there is still the hope — however minuscule — that your relationship will one day be mended, healed, and even massively affirming. I certainly hope that for you, my friend! As for myself…there is no hope. At least not for that blood-related brother. Though I maintain some hope for that ever elusive older brother figure of sorts.

  • Matt ‘Ashįįhí

    I’m the middle child of the family. One older, and one younger. My older brother and I were close, but never really that close, if that makes sense. We’ve had our ups and downs, even to this day! There are days I do look up to my older brother, yet other days I’m glad he’s not involved in my life anymore, and I have this independent thing going on, which I love! But the days I look up to him, are the days I’m proud he was basically my spiritual leader! He’s smarter than me, and can out argue both my younger brother and I combined. Ugh. But, you can tell he’s proud of being the oldest, and glad he doesn’t have anyone above him. But him being the oldest, and looking up to him, he has taught me a lot, just mostly watching his actions, and him actually challenging me to be a better person, even if it meant hurting my feelings every now and then. My question to you is, have you, being the oldest, been an example to your younger siblings? Have you challenged them to be a better person in life?

  • Matt ‘Ashįįhí

    I’m the middle child of the family. One older, and one younger. My older brother and I were close, but never really that close, if that makes sense. We’ve had our ups and downs, even to this day! There are days I do look up to my older brother, yet other days I’m glad he’s not involved in my life anymore, and I have this independent thing going on, which I love! But the days I look up to him, are the days I’m proud of him because he was basically my spiritual leader! He’s smarter than me, and can out argue both my younger brother and I combined. Ugh. But, you can tell he’s proud of being the oldest, and glad he doesn’t have anyone above him. But him being the oldest, and looking up to him, he has taught me a lot, just mostly watching his actions, and him actually challenging me to be a better person, even if it meant hurting my feelings every now and then. My question to you is, have you, being the oldest, been an example to your younger siblings? Have you challenged them to be a better person in life?

    • I’ve always thought being the middle child would be awesome — an older sibling and a younger sibling, the best of both worlds. I’m certain the middle child also carries at least some level of the stereotypical con of “stuckness,” but I think I would have loved to experience that. I mentioned my younger siblings in another comment, as they’re definitely not lost in my thoughts and emotions for an older sibling. I’d like to think I’ve been a solid older brother for them over the years — although I’ll never quite know what they thought of their older brother as he went through his year-long wandering to and fro over the earth in a Mitsubishi Galant last year.

  • Jeremy

    Very interesting reading the different experiences. I wonder if the yearning for an older brother who is the ideal – kind, compassionate, considerate, helpful, rescuer, guide, comforter, etc, etc – is not the Lord’s way of drawing us to Him and making Jesus our older brother. I love to think of Jesus in that way.

  • Alan Gingery

    I was the youngest and had both a sister and a brother. My brother was a troubled child and not easy to get along with or love. I did love him but we were not close–probably part of the “big brother hole” that made me needy for male acceptance and love. As adults my relationship with my big brother worsened as his mental health got worse. In the end, he was in a nursing facility and taking medication to control schizophrenia. When medicated, he became gentle and no longer violent and aggressive. I was able to visit him, touch him affectionately and show him my love perhaps for the first time in my life. And more significantly, I asked my father to visit my big brother and the two of them were reconciled after many bitter years of separation that was propagated by my brother’s schizophrenia. My brother has been dead for about 2 years now and I miss him. I am glad that I could love him with the love of Christ before the end of his life. Ours was not a smooth road, but I am thankful for my bigger brother.

  • The Daily Ground Hog

    Only child here…I spent 10 years wishing for an older brother. How was that going to work? I was the first born. I remember urging Mom and Dad to adopt one. The video busted my tear ducts wide open. I’m not normally given to that sort of thing, but it all came rushing back. Why did I want that? An only child has privileges that others do not enjoy and which I continue to enjoy to this very day. Even so, I always wanted the big Bro. Having someone to guide us that has been to places we have not yet gone is part of it. It’s why I love Jesus, and as you say, He is the ultimate Big Bro. That is gonna be a good hug. I bet I get a kiss on the forehead too!

  • Eddie

    Well I see I’m a bit late to this posting, but I think I’ll put in my 2 cents. Having an older brother? WOW! It’s like Tom is reading my mind from afar. If I was asked when do you first remember showing any SSA “tendencies?” I would have to say when I was around 4-5 years old. Yeah, that young guys! I came to meet the son of a family friend. His name was Bobby (18-20?) and I was immediately enamored by him. At that moment, I had my first “big brother crush” when I first laid eyes on him as he was a model of masculine manhood, tall and strong. Everything I would want to emulate as a young man. Of course, at that age, everyone dismissed this overt attention I showed Bobby, but since that time there have been other “surrogate” big brothers throughout my childhood. I can still recall their names like Will, Wayne, Tony, David, Chris and Rick. Some of them grew to be mere acquaintances while others were a bit longer term relationships. I never wanted anything more from them but an older male role model in mutually loving and supportive brotherhood. As I have grown older, the yearning for brotherhood, not necessarily “big” brotherhood remains.

  • A Friend

    Oh my word! This reached the inner depth of my soul–EXACTLY what I’ve wanted forever and was scared to share–think a lack of a brother like this is what drove me to homosexuality…imagine the healing that could have happened before if I had had a big brother! Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone. Quite a healing post.

    • Always happy to affirm that others are not, in fact, alone. I’m right there with you. Blessings to you, Friend.

  • Michael

    @@thomasmarkz:disqus you’re words express my longings so much. Though I am the youngest of 5, a twin and have any older brother, I didn’t always have the close emotional or physically relationships with an older brother. when you say: “But ultimately, a big brother to wrap his arms around me when I’m hurting. A big brother to guide me, a big brother to protect me, a big brother to pray over me. A big brother to stand beside, to look up to, and see strength. Strength in him, strength in me.” That is so what I long for as well.

    • How cool that you have a twin and other older siblings in your life. I pray they may serve as close guides or mentors in your life as time goes by. And that you connect fruitfully with other older individuals along the way, too.