The OUTfit Pt. 3 – Soul Ties: Am I My Brother’s Keeper
Take a quick trip with me back in time. Let’s go back to the mid-80’s. Think about some of the events and headlines we saw in the papers and on the evening news:
Ronald Regan became our fortieth President. Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman to become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. CNN began broadcasting the Iran-Iraq war. Robert L. Johnson (born 1946) launched Black Entertainment Television. Thriller was all the rave. Carl Lewis became the first person to win 8 Olympic gold medals. LL Cool J and Run DMC were running the game of hip hop. And perhaps the most devastating event….. The summer of 1985 ushered in the crack epidemic, setting up the script for that Wesley “Nino Am I My Brother’s Keeper” Snipes classic film, New Jack City.
“So, what’s up with you Bryan?” asked the note taking, over-priced psychologist sitting in the corner chair. Bryan, paused and answered... “Life, that’s what’s happening!” “And how are you dealing with this thing called LIFE?” he asked. Bryan never replied. He had nothing. His coping mechanism didn’t consist of going to work off aggression at the basketball court. Instead, he found himself alone, trying to figure it out by himself, which is how he finds himself on a psychologist’s couch.
Bryan grew up the son of a preacher and needless to say his father’s expectations were hard for a young black teenager in the streets of New York. He navigated from choir boy on Sunday to number runner for the local bookie, the rest of the week. The money was good and at a young age Bryan never needed to ask his parents for money. He became familiar with the streets, but his faith in God never allowed the streets to devour him. Though faithful to God, he never wanted to be a part of his family’s church business, yet he was extremely proud of the impact they made in the community.
As he got older, Bryan started to question his relationship with God and God became less and less a part of his life. While most 20 somethings were struggling trying to find their way, Bryan was doing well for himself. He had his own car, his own apartment, and plenty money. Life was good!
Life Comes At You Fast
One Friday night Bryan’s life would be changed forever. After attending a party in Bronx, he decided to get behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated. A heavy rain hammered against the windshield of Bryan’s black Mercedes. His excessive speed on the wet road caused him to spin out of control and go over the edge of an embankment. The paramedics arrived to find him barely conscious with serious yet non-life-threatening injuries.
For Bryan’s parents, it wasn’t uncommon for church members to contact them in the middle of the night with bad news. This time however, the bad news was theirs. It was the hospital calling. Their only son lay on the hospital bed with a broken leg, a broken arm, severe scarring and most alarming, a broken jawbone that would require major reconstructive surgery. His parents were devastated.
After long months of rehab and multiple surgeries Bryan was finally ready to go home. The road to recovery would prove to be challenging for him. The pain was unbearable, and he soon found himself needing stronger medication to get him through the hard days and sleepless nights. Bryan masked his pain with opioid drugs and found himself addicted. It was in this moment, that Bryan had his “Road to Damascus” epiphany. Bryan started talking to God more. He started praying more. The devil however had different plans. The devil knew exactly what Bryan’s soul craved. Bryan’s addiction was strong, and in the strength of his addiction, he was weak.
Bryan spent the next few years trying to conquer his demons but failed miserably. As friends watched him fall deeper into the abyss, they wondered how he would ever recover? His parents poured endless money into his recovery efforts. It was all for naught. Bryan had never asked his parents for anything, and this time would be no different. Bryan was in denial about his addiction and missed several appointments. The addicti0n was winning. Bryan’s addiction caused his father a great deal of stress. His father’s health started to decline, and he suffered a massive heart attack. At this point Bryan realized the massive damage he had inflicted on his parents and decided to make some changes.
For The Love Of Money
Bryan started attending church again; first just to be there for his mother while his dad recovered and then because there in the sanctuary, he found peace. His once rocky relationship with his father started to improve. Finding his niche in the ministry was easy. Bryan loved finance. His days as a number’s runner taught him how to make money work for you. The ministry work that he once dismissed was now a lucrative business for his family. This lucrative business however was far from how his father wanted the church to operate.
Bryan found unused space inside the church and decided to invite the local businesspeople to showcase their products. Instead of hurrying to Sunday morning service to get the best seat, vendors started lining up early to get the best table to showcase their merchandise. Designer handbags were lined up on the tables. Mannequins dressed in the prettiest prints were showcased in the church hallways. The smell of baked goods filled the lobby. Bryan had turned the church into a market. Bryan hand single handedly turned the church into a commerce center. This became a distraction and Bryan’s father was furious and knew he had to put an end to this. Following one Sunday service, Bryan’s father called him into the office and asked him to leave the church. He didn’t want the church to be a part of any more of his son’s ideas. It was not pleasing to him, and he knew it certainly wasn’t pleasing to God.
Once again Bryan found himself out of the church and on the outs with his father. His relationship with is mother remained strong, he could depend on her to be a mediator during he and his father’s heated discussions. He would need her mediation skills more than ever now, because the relationship with his father had once again had become strained.
As Charlotte sat in the cold empty room, she replayed every scene from their first encounter…their first date, the laughter, and now the betrayal…. “I don’t want to hear his heartbeat”, she thought to herself. How in the world did she get here, to this point? She couldn’t imagine the pain she would feel making such a life-changing decision. Minutes seemed like hours, but at last, the door opened, and in walked the doctor. She didn’t hear anything he was saying. Her mind was elsewhere. How could she have been so stupid, and so easily fooled by his charm? She thought he would be there no matter what they faced. She was wrong! He’d bailed on her and their unborn baby. He walked out. He didn’t return the love she had for him. As she sat there with tears running down her cheeks she wondered if he would ever find it in his heart to forgive her, would she be able to forgive herself? How could she come back from this…?