“Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit”, says Lord of Hosts — Zechariah 4:6 —
The word troll — which I find repulsive — is used among homosexual men to describe themselves or one another, as age approaches, or as a way to describe those who go after sex partners.
My brother used it as slang for getting old. “I’m nothing but an old troll, now,” he would joke. However, I never laughed, telling him he was more than that.
We both were looking forward to being around for one another when we hit 60 years old. He, just 14 months younger than I. Our birthdays two months apart, our mother would have one birthday party between us when we were children.
Ricky and I spent time talking about aging. The pros and cons. Pro, being able to watch a movie or something and watching it again, not remembering it the first time, and finding it as a brand new event. Pro, reaching the age of knowing who true friends were. Pro, just being grateful we lived as long as we have, because some of our friends had already passed on. The biggest pro was being hopeful that age had made us a little wiser and not as stupid, as in our younger days.
The cons being how it sucked watching our bodies give in to the natural aging process, when a part of us still felt like we were in our 20s and early 30s. We joked about skin tags, getting out of breath, my having hair where once I didn’t. He loved that one! My losing bladder control when I got tickled, was his favorite and he would purposely do and say funny things, just so he could stand back to watch it happen!
Our joking about it, was our way of dealing with reality. I still let the aging process get to me more than he did. He used to tell me, “Well, Brenda, whadda Ya gonna do? You can either cry about it or laugh.” When he was around, I was laughing about it, because he had such an optimistic disposition.
So, when he started calling himself an old troll because of a skin tag here or there, it saddened me. He was no troll, in my eyes. He was my brother who had been so many things to me, during our life together.
The past two years, he began to change. He had mellowed out. As sick as he was, he enjoyed spending time with family. Especially with our baby sister — who the two of them had a very special connection, for which I was never envious, but glad — and her family, enjoying her swimming pool, sun bathing, wanting to be with her two little twin grandsons. He would visit our other brother and his family, and he would visit me. I began to see him as a true patriarch of the family. Caring deeply for each member. So much so, that it really did put me to shame. I had lost patience in some areas, but Ricky still hung in there, with a heart of love, whereas, mine was waxing cold, impatient, very little mercy flowing out of me. But Ricky, he was a type of plumb line for me.
I looked upon him with a sense of awe. He was changing, wanting to know about the things of God. He came to me for that and I was just real with him, telling him my failings, etc. explaining to him, I know I’m rotten to the core, and only Jesus makes me worth anything because of His work in the cross.
I had bought him a Bible years ago, but like so many people, he never liked to read, so if he ever read it, I don’t know. But, he would want to know what scripture had to say about certain things and the end times. He listened with eager ears as I read him parts of it. Then, we would discuss it.
He went from being apathetic and cold towards Israel, to curious, accepting, loving and watching it, as God’s time table for events in the world. He would call me asking what I thought about certain events. He went to work saying, “I think we are in the last days”. He was not parroting me, he really believed. Some listened to him in agreement and I could see it excited him.
I found myself trembling every time we got to talk about Biblical things! You see, many years ago, when we both were in the prime of our youth, full of strength and vitality, he was hostile even at the mere mention of God or the Bible. Contrary to what some of you may believe, I was never a “Bible Thumper”, carrying a Bible the size of a watermelon around on my hip, with one finger extended, crying out, “Repent, thou foul sinner!” Neither, was I one to think I was better than my brother. We both knew things about each other. We both knew the other had never been an angel. We had that much in common, thank God! He also knew I was not the same woman, he remembered as in our younger days.
He would mock me or ridicule me at times. I know brothers can be a pain in the butt that way, and sometimes a sister just has to suck it up. I tried to keep a low profile around him, hoping he wouldn’t notice me, but when our eyes met, I knew I was in for it, because mischievousness twinkled in his eyes! However, sometimes, something in him would go to the extreme and at times, I found it very hurtful. I had done nothing to ever reject him or his friends, but something in him, had fun in doing it to me. Honestly? It was nothing more than demonic. It just made me love him more, as aggravated as I could get.
A month or so before his heart attack, he called to tell me he was watching some preacher on TV. My first inward reflex was, “Oh great. Wonder who THAT is. Now, I’m going to have to contend with a false teacher.”
I asked who it was and it was local. He told me what the sermon was about. He said it felt like it was being said to him. I don’t remember now what it was, but upon hearing it, I found it to be good not only for Ricky, but myself as well. So it gave us the opportunity to discuss God’s Word together.
Understand, he went from a man who had been hostile toward the things of God, to a man who in a quiet humble sort of way, was hungering and thirsting for truth. So much so, that one day, out of nowhere, he told me, “I’ve come to believe I was not born gay, but chose it.”
I gently agreed with him. He said as much as he had enjoyed life, he wished he could have done some things differently. I assured him, everybody can say that for themselves, I know I can.
I told him this about him being gay. Maybe not word for word, not all in one moment, but at one time or the other, as he was the one who always brought the subject up, not I: “God created you in His image, Ricky. He put certain traits, abilities, gifts, talents in you while you were still in Mom’s womb. He made you a sensitive little boy, not a sissy like others and myself teased, but one who was curious, adventurous, creative. Whereas you liked to learn to bake cookies and learning to sew, I would rather have been out playing G.I. Joe with the boys or climbing trees. I think this sometimes happens, Ricky. I think sometimes when God makes a little boy who is sensitive, etc., the devil sees it and comes to that little boy at a young age and whispers a lie in his little ears. The child, not knowing any better, begins to believe it. Shoot, Ricky, I wanted to please Dad so much, that I acted tough just so he would think I was strong, when all along I was really afraid.”
Example, Dad would tell Ricky and me that he would give a dime to whoever went out to the garage at night time to turn off the lights. I would do it, terrified of any boogie man that might be waiting. Ricky, on the other hand, would tell me, “It wasn’t worth a dime to me.” We laughed about that, even up to the last month of his life!
Ricky had become more gentle, patient, even edifying to me, as the things of the world were enraging me. Right before his heart attack, he had told me to let things go. As much as I wanted, I did not know how. Yet, admiring that thing in him, that truly was putting me to shame.
Ricky was a neat freak, a perfectionist. When he did a job, he did it well, with a type of professionalism, whether it was landscaping, painting, selling Home Interior, etc. That would spill over into his personal visits, when he would say things like, “Girl, when did you run the vacuumn cleaner last?” Or, “I can’t believe you haven’t washed your dishes.” Use to irratate the snot out of me and I would snap back, “Well, did you come to see me or the house?” Or, “If I had known you were coming, I would have hired a maid.” Brothers. You gotta love them.
But, he stopped doing that the past couple years. Something changed. Perhaps he saw I wasn’t feeling well, or perhaps his priorities were changing, taking more pleasure in just being around me, instead of finding fault.
I wasn’t the only one who noticed it. We all noticed it.
We talked about what it meant to be born again. About the deep things of God. I told him Salvation was quite simple, really. Man and religion make it a hard complex thing, when in reality it is desiring God to change who we are, knowing that we all are sinners and allowing and accepting what Jesus did for us on the Cross. Repentance meaning just turning around, knowing we have been forgiven and allowing God to do the work in us, because we can’t.
The last month of his life, he mentioned something about maybe wanting to get baptized. He brought it up, not I. He spoke well of the young preacher he was watching and asked me to watch it with him on Sunday mornings, then he would call and we would discuss the sermon. Oh, how I loved those times. Forever precious to me.
I got to see what few people get to witness. I got to see an awesome God who knew everything about my brother, loved him throughout his life, even at the darkest of times and never once stopped loving him or gave up on him.
Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance. — Matthew 3:8 —
I got to see those fruits. My brother may have thought he was nothing more than a “troll”, but God through His Spirit, changed him to a Saint.
Don’t give up on that loved one. If God can do this for my loved one, He can do it for you!