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.”