I don't know why I am even trying to put into words how important and special my brother is to me. At the risk of sounding totally cliche...words truly can't express how much I love Kirk. BUT, I'm gonna try. The best way to show how important Kirk is to me is to tell you how he literally saved my life. Happy 26th birthday little brother.
Kirk is 2 1/2 years younger than me, but in some ways I feel like he is my older brother. When we were younger we used to fight all the time (as evidenced by the picture insert to the right..lol!), as many brothers and sisters tend to do. Looking back, I wish I would have acted differently toward my baby brother. All he wanted to do was hang out with me. And all I wanted was for him to be away from me. Kirk loved me so much that when I would do bad things and blame them on him...he would take the blame for me so that I wouldn't get into trouble. The peak of our fighting was when we were both teenagers living under the same roof. I was getting into some bad stuff and Kirk knew it. My fear was that Kirk would try and do what I was doing and didn't want him to be any part of it. So I pushed him away even more. It wasn't until I left for college that I truly missed him.
While I was away at college...partying and making lots of bad decisions.....Kirk was choosing a different way of life. When I was 18 and Kirk was 16....he got saved. While he was away at Younglife camp he got radically saved and came back to tell all of us the news. Kirk and I didn't grow up in church. I didn't even know what the word "saved" meant. I just knew it was one of those words that church people used....and I didn't like it. I was totally not supportive of Kirk's decision to follow Jesus and I wasn't shy about telling him my opinion of his decision. I thought he had been taken in and the wool pulled over his eyes. I thought it was just a phase and that he would be back to normal once the 'phase' passed. Some of his other friends had gotten "saved" at that same camp and they didn't change when they got back...so I thought that Kirk would just go back to his wild and crazy ways any day. Kirk was the kind of person that if he did anything...he went all the way with it. When he was the crazy bad kid...he was the craziest and baddest of all bad kids. And when he got saved and started to follow Jesus...he did it all the way.
At about the same time that Kirk got saved, my family went through a super bad time. I thought that if anything would kill Kirk's belief in God....this would be it. There would be no way that he would cling to his false god now. But he didn't change or doubt even for a second. As Kirk grew stronger in his walk with God....I spiraled down into the darkness. I don't really remember those days very clearly, which is good in a way, but I do know that it was one of the darkest times of my life. I felt hopeless and alone. I would drink until I couldn't see. I didn't want to feel all the pain that was going on in my life. My brother wanted to help me, but I wouldn't talk to him much. If I did talk to him I would mock him and what he believed. Every time I would talk to Kirk or be around him I would be both amazed and almost angry. I was amazed that Kirk really had changed and I was angry that I couldn't have what he had. This went on for years and years. Kirk growing in God and me allowing my life to get further and further out of control.
Even though I would have never admitted it. I watched Kirk like a hawk. Everything he did and said was under my microscope of judgement. I was just waiting for him to say or do something that validated my disbelief in God. The truth was....I wanted SO badly the peace that Kirk very obviously truly had. It wasn't fake. It was for real. I watched him for years. And I knew my brother like I knew myself. No one could fake peace and happiness like he had. At least not for that long. I knew lots of "Christians" in my life that went to church and did all the "Christian" things that you're supposed to do...but never ever had I met someone so truly in love with God. I was slowly coming to realize that my idea that all Christian's were ignorant hypocrites may not be true....at least not when it came to Kirk. So I started asking questions. Lots of questions. My poor brother probably felt a mix of happiness and 'oh my gosh, how do I answer all of these questions'.
One night, Kirk asked me if I wanted to go and see Passion of the Christ at the theatre. I thought, why not!? So I went. Ask Kirk....from the very first scene of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane....I bawled. I mean rivers of tears. The entire movie. The thought of Jesus dying for me was so completely overwhelming that I seriously couldn't deal with it at that moment. When we got home, I stayed up and talked to Kirk all night. I asked tons more questions. I told him that I still just wasn't ready to believe but that I something had touched my heart and I didn't know what to do with it quite yet. My life was crazy. Ever since I was 15 my life was one party after another. I drank every day.
So after a while, I set out on a secret mission to find out what this Jesus guy was really all about. I didn't want to take anyone's word for it..not even my wonderful brother. I didn't want to be a hypocrite. I knew I wasn't ready to change my ways and life and I certainly didn't want to call myself a Christian until I knew what it really meant to be one. So I started reading books and talking to experts about all the religions. How could I say I wasn't a Muslim or a Buddhist unless I knew what they believed, you know!? This secret search for the truth started when I was around 22 or 23 years old. I read every book I could get my hands on about the different religions of the world. As I learned more, I knew that my heart was being drawn towards Jesus. Not a religion. Not a label. Not traditions. It had nothing to do with going to church...still didn't go. It had nothing to do with living my life by a certain set of laws. It was about Jesus and me.
When I was around 24 years old I was finally ready to declare that I believed in Jesus and wanted to ask him to live in my heart. When I told my brother, he wasn't really that surprised. He had started to notice a change in me. And I'm sure the constant interrogating him about God probably gave it away a bit too. This was a huge moment for me and my little brother was the one to lead me through the prayer of salvation. Holding my hands. Holding me when I cried. Rejoicing with me!
I wish I could tell you that I had a similar story to Kirk in that my life radically changed for the better from that day on. Yes, my life totally changed, but not in an instant.....more like years. I was 24 then and it wasn't until I was 27 that I started to really understand and know Jesus in a way that would radically change me forever.
There are a lot of crazy things that went on in my life. As much of a chronic oversharer as I am..I don't think I'll share all of that today. A girl has to have some mystery. : )
My life was out of control and I needed help. It was my little brother that saved my life in more than one way. If Kirk hadn't gotten saved and lived his life for Jesus no matter what came his way...I may not have made it to write this testimony. Had my little brother not had faith in me and loved me with God's unconditional love....I may not have made it to write this testimony. If Kirk hadn't shown me how special and lovely I truly am, and that God really does love me....I may not have made it to write this testimony. My brother is still the only man I have ever met that has never let me down. My brother isn't perfect, but to me, he is the world. Without Kirk's consistent encouragement and support...I may have never come to know Jesus with the depth that I know Him now. If my brother wouldn't have fought for my heart and soul....I don't know if I ever would have turned my heart towards God. My brother is my rock. His marriage to Dana is such an inspiration to me. They have given me something to aim for...to believe in. I won't ever settle for anything less than the best, because their love has shown me that fairy tales really do come true. My brother has touched so many lives. His smile can light up a room. He is always laughing. He is always loving. He is always encouraging. He is proof that God is real. What he has you can't read about in a book. What he has isn't a religion. What he has is a true relationship with God. What he has isn't some law to follow or some tradition. What he has is a friend in Jesus. I am the woman I am today because of Jesus and the radical change His love has brought to my life. And I know Jesus because of Kirk McNemar....my little brother. If it weren't for him, I wouldn't know true love....I wouldn't know trust.....I wouldn't know God. One of the best moments of my life was when I was on stage at church, singing with the band...I was so excited...and I look out into the crowd and I see Kirk in the front row...with a huge smile on his face and tears rolling down his cheeks. He was so proud of me. He always prayed that one day, I would know God's love and seeing me up on stage, singing God's praises was truly an answer to his years of prayer for me. Every Sunday I stand in the front row beside my hero...my brother and I thank God for Kirk and all that he is and all that he does. Sometimes it is hard for people to understand the love of God. They don't really know what it looks like or feels like. God isn't here incarnate to hug us and love us. But His love is all around us. I was able to imagine how great God's love is for me by Kirk allowing God's love to flow out of him and into my heart and into my life.
Happy Birthday, Kirky! Thank you. I love you.