My wife and I were watching Supernatural one evening. In one of my favorite episodes, the two brothers are killed, sent to heaven, and then work to escape. I’m sure some context would help, but since four seasons of recaps would take up a little too much time, let’s just pretend that this episode premise is entirely logical.

What stands out in this episode is a scene at the beginning. When Dean is sent to heaven, he wakes up in his car with a fifteen-year younger version of his brother, Sam, excitedly running around. The younger version of Sam runs up to Dean with a box overflowing with fireworks.

Dean, though confused, pulls out his lighter and sets the sparklers ablaze for his brother. He realizes what’s going on: this is a memory. He is reliving a moment from his past — one of his best moments, his happiest.
What Dean comes to realize while running through heaven is that he is seeing the most joyous moments of his life flash before him. He is reliving the prime moments of his life. And the first one — it’s of he and his brother setting off fireworks.

As fireworks go off during this memory, Dean has the most incredible look on his face. Imagine someone with no cares in the world. Imagine someone who is completely filled with love. Imagine someone who is completely content. This is Dean.

And why? Because his brother is happy.

This clip and realization hit me tonight. It hit me hard.

Here was a grown man finding complete joy in the simple fact that his brother was happy.

My brothers, while they sometimes mean well, fall short of this ideal. Most of my life, my brothers haven’t been happy for me or with me in my happiness. I had to fight to get most of my brothers to attend my wedding. One of them didn’t even show up. When I announced my first child to my brothers, their excitement was absent from the process.

This has been the trend my entire life. Something good would happen — an accomplishment in my life or a blessing — and my brothers would be the quiet ones in the stands, if they were even cheering at all. Or even present. Graduations, recitals, my baptism — my brothers were the last ones to join the party.

Now, I don’t mean that my brothers’ happiness should completely depend upon what I do, nor do I depend upon their happiness to find my own joy. True joy comes from Christ. I get this.

However, I looked up to my brothers for most of my life. I watched them, their every move. I took my cues of manhood from them, consciously and subconsciously.

And the main lesson my brothers taught me was that I would never be good enough as a man.

If I were good enough, surely they would celebrate my accomplishments with me, right? If I were good enough to be a man, then my brothers would be happy for me. They would be happy with me.

I keep seeing Dean’s face in my mind, and I imagine what I would have done had I ever seen this face from my brothers. Would I have been happier? Would I have believed I was good enough to be a man? Would my life have been any different? Will I ever see this look on someone else’s face for me?

I guess some things will always be unknown.

Have you ever wanted your brothers to be happy for/with you but weren’t? Have you been emotionally dependent on another man’s approval, brother or otherwise?

* Photo from Supernatural, “Dark Side of the Moon.”

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  • Thanks for sharing, Dean. That is so filled with such a deep pathos. I know how you feel and hurt with you. We were made to love and be loved, so when it doesn’t happen like it should, we do crave it and look for it and desire beyond all else that affirmation. So often it is lacking in this world and while we can spiritualize this and say we should be happy with the Father’s unconditional love, and the love of our older brother, Jesus, we just don’t see and feel and experience that love in the same way. Seeing it on a face, feeling it in a hug or a touch of the hand, or some gesture of assurance is the real deal here and now. And somehow the love of a brother is so special but so often not there. Unfortunately internet is a bit cold too. Lol! Wish I could give you that reassuring hug of approval right now, but you have to believe the Lord has done it for you, some way, some how. He says to you, “Well done! I love you! You are so special!”

  • I have never really shared much of my personal life with my brother. He was one of the last people to find out I had SSA. Things are getting better between us, but in the past, I could never trust him not to ridicule or belittle me with whatever personal information I gave him. I protected myself by simply shutting him out of my life as much as I could. So, he was rarely ever happy or supportive of me, but I was the same way toward him. I can’t really blame him.

    • I’m so sorry to hear that, Kevin. I’m thankful things are better between you now- I know it takes a lot of time and can seem like an impossible process at time.

  • I have been reading the posts backwards and noticed you are a big fan of Supernatural. I haven’t ever watched it, but I did watch all 9 seasons of Smallville as they came out and I can honestly say no show before or since has made me feel more emotional or connected to God in the things He was teaching me through a show. A few weeks ago I started watching the first season again and it was the same reaction. I identify with Clark Kent and how he felt like an outcast with a secret he had to keep with a paranoia. I also felt akin to how he had an amazing gift he knew other’s wouldn’t understand or appreciate but rather be jealous. I didn’t think people would be jealous of me, but I always felt like no one saw or cared that I was unique with talents and gifts that were different than my other friends. No one wanted someone around who acted like a shrink and wanted to talk about deep things and existential ponderings. In Man of Steel, young Clark is developing his X-Ray vision and he hides in a closet. I felt like he did in school even back to kindergarten. I was kicked out of preschool because I refused to eat any of the food they served, I wouldn’t take a nap and I wouldn’t stop talking when it was time to learn. I got better over time, but I never developed good social skills until college. If you haven’t seen Smallville, I bet it is similar in theme because it is from the same network. You should give it a try.

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