When I was in high school, my younger brother and I were in the same math class. He was smarter than me in that topic and more motivated. I didn’t have a problem with being in the same class with my younger brother. It never bothered me. I had my own strengths and was happy that he had his. One of my strengths was guitar playing.
In our Catholic high school we had all school masses (basically a worship service) on some regular basis. As a guitar player, I joined the team to lead the singing. Sometimes I would do a special song right after communion for the whole school. On one particular day, I sang a somewhat popular song and the student body responded very favorably; they loved it. On my way to math class right after the mass I was congratulated and complimented frequently by my peers. It was a great feeling being appreciated.
When I sat down in class, my brother was sitting right behind me, then it happened: a pretty girl in the class came up to us, turned to my brother and asked “What’s it like to have a brother who’s wonderful?” I was very angered by her question. Although I didn’t show it, I was livid. Didn’t she understand what she was doing? Didn’t she understand the place she was putting my brother into? I wasn’t concerned for me I was concerned for him. She was placing him into what I’ll refer to as negative space. She was highlighting the space I was in and making it clear that he dwelt in the opposite space of me; the negative space.
Now I never discussed with my brother how this affected him. I’ve never brought it up until this writing. I hope he didn’t let this become a defining moment for him. That would be sad to let someone else’s limited perspective define you. Choosing the negative space as your identity isn’t about you its about the other person. If you do this, you and the world will never find out who you are.
If you live in the shadow of someone, or think you do, don’t let yourself be defined by what you are not. Don’t take the negative space and say that must be who I am. No! You are a unique and awesome individual not to be defined by someone else, but by who God made you to be. Discover your own characteristics.
If you define yourself by negative space then you take the definition of that other person and choose the opposite and say that must be who I am. So if I play guitar my brother then would have to reject playing guitar, whether or not he had an innate talent or skill. If I chose Christ he then would have to reject Christ to maintain his identity. If I am straight he must choose to be gay to maintain his identity.
Can you see how faulty and tragic this is? I believe this happens all over the world and throughout the human race over and over. We must give people the freedom to be who they are and the affirmation of that as valuable.