It Really Does Take a Village

1 Corinthians 12:25-27

25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.

26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

The posting date of this blog is near the one-year anniversary of the passing of my younger brother.  I am not a blogger, nor do I pretend to be one, yet I feel the need to post my experiences over the past year with the hope that someone else may read this and be comforted or led to become part of a “village”.  When Hillary Clinton published her book, “It Takes A Village”, in 1996, she was mainly addressing how others, outside of the immediate family, influence how children are raised and how others impact children’s lives.  After losing my brother and going through the time since, I now believe that it takes a village for all of us, young and old alike, to get through such tough times.

When I was told of my brother’s passing, I was a complete and utter mess.  I was experiencing uncontrollable wailing (yes wailing – a step above crying), deep heart-wrenching sadness, and various forms of anger.  I was angry at myself for the times I had not made time for him, I was angry at the doctors for not being able to do more for him and the most troubling was that I was angry with God.  I kept saying to myself and others how I did not understand how a God all about love could allow my brother to die while there were murderers and rapists living out their days.  I was really struggling.  The good news is that I am part of a village.

While I was so uplifted by my wife and children, I was very thankful that my village also included my friends and my church and my fellow church members.  My villagers were there to support me and to help me get through the roughest times.  The Pastor of my village reached out to me and had a private session with me where I was able to share my feeling of pain and anger and receive caring and loving advice that helped me muddle through.  He also invited me to a grief workshop where some my fellow villagers were there to share their stories, pain and triumphs.  My fellow church villagers reached out to me with phone calls, emails, notes, letters and more.  Most of all they provided encouraging words, loving hugs and firm handshakes to just let me know that I was loved and that I was going to be alright.  My co-worker villagers reached out to me to help as did my “forever” friends to reinforce the fact that I am loved, that God loves me and that being loved and loving others matters.  It was clear to me that being part of a village matters and how you treat your fellow villagers matters.  I have experienced more days behind me than I will before me but knowing I am loved and that my love to others makes a difference is a great feeling.

I am not writing this to pretend that having the village will make things all better.  One year later and I can still say it hurts and that I still have days where I am angry with God.  I was 2 years and 14-days older than my brother.  Anyone with siblings that close in age realizes the bond that is formed between each other.  We were close and we had a bond that began early on as we shared a room together as kids.  Though we were closer at various times compared to others, as we all are with any relationship, we always knew we could count on each other.  We had the same taste in food, drink, sports, movies and especially music.  Just the other day, I was brought to tears when one of my brother’s favorite songs, “Master of Puppets” by Metallica, came on the radio.  This was also the ringtone I had set for my brother’s calls.  It triggered a flood of emotions, reminding me that I continue to hurt.  Even though I am still struggling, I can say that my village provides me the support I need to keep on keeping on, one day at a time.  I realize that is cliché to say but it is true.  I am forever thankful for my entire village.

It really does take a village, no matter your age.

–Tim Shelton