House of Glass

July 23, 2011
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The walls in my house are paper thin. No one truly can understand what I go through on a daily basis. Some claim that time heals all wounds, but not all wounds can be healed. If you were to see my soul, it would look like a battlefield. Through the years, the lines have been drawn. The stakes have been set, and all that is left is a decision. What can be right when the whole world is wrong?
I was born into the house of glass. The son of a preacher, I learned at a young age where my place in society was. No lasting equality, nothing more than the judgment and scorn of others. My heart beats the same, my heart breaks the same, yet everyone looks at me with the same look of rejection. No matter what action is made, someone finds it wrong. I am held to a higher set of standards, held by a curse set forth since birth.
I remember the day as if it were yesterday. “Timothy,” my father said, “This world will never see you as one of its own. You are eternally separated from normality, an alien in your own skin. It isn’t fair, I understand. However, you must accept this position, because there is no possibility of changing it. We live in a fish bowl, and it is the Lord’s desire for us to be. I will always love you, and accept you for who you are.”
His warm embrace that day was a lie. As he gripped me tight, I could not believe what I was hearing. It was as if he was reading me a death sentence for a crime I had not committed. The lasting label of “Preacher’s kid” will always follow me, and it was not even open for debate. To an 8 year old child, this sent tremors through my brain. I thought I could be anything I wanted to be, I thought I could take the world by storm! Instead, that day I learned my destiny in a manner most brutal.
That day, November 14, 2007, was the day of my brother’s funeral. He was the prom king, the captain of the football team, an all-A student, and the best big brother anyone could ask for. As I sit and think of the pain I felt that day, I cannot hold back the floodgates of tears I have been holding in for so long. He had so much potential, everything was going his way. Well, except for one thing. He was the “Preacher’s kid”.
Jeremy was a person who would tell you as soon as he met you that he was a Christian, and was also not ashamed to mention he was the son of a preacher. His love for the Lord and others were hard to fathom, a trait that everyone remembers him by to this day. He always befriended even the hardest heart, and could make life seem it’s sweetest when it truly was not. I will forever see him as a saint, and nothing less.
However, he did have enemies. He refused to throw a punch at the worst of people. For that reason, some portrayed him as weak. I remember many nights waking to him sobbing in dad’s arms, saying that he could not stand the pain of this opposition any longer. Dad always settled him and reassured him that he was stronger than any bully. One night, however, that peace shattered like glass on a concrete floor, changing my perspective of life as I know it.
I walked in the front door of my house, kicked off my Adidas tennis shoes, and ran to my routine position on the couch, waiting for my father to come and start dinner. That night at church was unusually pleasurable. In fact, when my father gave the alter call for people to accept Jesus Christ as Lord, I went. I was riding an emotional high, and could not wait to get home and tell Jeremy of my newfound redemption.
Dad walked in the door with a sackful of groceries and began to put them in their proper place. We went to the grocery store together after church service to get what I wanted for dinner, a rare and desired delicacy for an eight year old. I remember grabbing the ingredients to make dad’s famous meatloaf, my favorite meal. As he began to brown the beef, I ran back to Jeremy’s room, too anxious to wait for our normal talk at the dinner table to tell him about the events of the night.
I opened the door and immediately screamed. My stomach felt as if I was going to vomit, and tears sprang up instantly. The first thing I saw was blood covering the walls. Then, I saw a gun, a 9-millimeter pistol. Then, I saw my brother’s lifeless body, his head shattered by the lone bullet that wrecked my world. I could see his brain, and bits of his skull were everywhere. The only thing I could do was scream and sob.
My father ran in, and the color immediately left his face. He just stared at Jeremy’s corpse, seemingly comatose. Then he sprang to life, calling the ambulance and checking to see if there was any sign of life. He kept trying; nothing stopped him from attempting to restore life to the empty shell of what was once my hero.
Dad held the note, reading it over and over in the dim light of the hospital parking garage. He read it out loud a couple of times, voicing the horrific truth as if he needed to say it aloud a few times to process it fully. “I’m sorry…the sea of pain has overtaken me…it’s time for me to go home…I really wasn’t as strong as you thought…tell Timothy I love him and am sorry…I never wanted this to be reality…it’s the only way…goodbye, I love you…” That night was the beginning of my ultimate end.
And that brings me to November 14. My family, Jeremy’s friends, and acquaintances flooded the church, leaving no empty seat to be found. Most were standing in the back, while droves were on the steps in front of the church, holding each other on that bitterly cold morning. “A light has been consumed, but that light will never be forgotten,” the speaker, Jeremy’s football coach and fellow church-goer, kept saying.
It wasn’t until after the service that I received the full extent of the story, overhearing my father speaking to a group of Jeremy’s teammates. “He was driven to this because of me. A group of your classmates harassed him because they said he was a weak pacifist, a Bible-thumping preacher’s kid, a waste of space. They tagged his car with things like ‘Jesus can’t save you’, and ‘turn the other cheek’. All of this because I told him not to strike back. I told him that he was strong for doing this.”
“Tell us who they were, Pastor Henderson,” the infuriated group of teenagers huddled around him said. “We’ll take care of them; we will avenge Jeremy’s death.”
“Absolutely not,” my father protested, “that is not true justice. I think Jeremy wants to be remembered for his peaceful and meek nature, not mere pain. Pain is so easy to come by in this world, don’t taint Jeremy’s memory with even more.”
In a world of absolute darkness, where is the light? In this house made of glass, there are stones abundant. How can we free ourselves from the pain of judgment? The bitter end of my brother is just one example of what this sort of mockery and harassment can do. The future is unpaved, pave it with love. I choose to live in the light of Jeremy’s life, and remember what he strived for all along. Choose love, my friends, and Jeremy will not soon be forgotten.
With time, I am beginning to embrace my place in this world. The stakes have been set, and the only thing left is a decision. I choose grace.

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