In Sync

Never let anybody live your life for you. Should they try, it is fair warning to see they have failed to live their own life and have now tried to move on to yours. Avoid immediately.

Sitting here, it never ceases to amaze me that two family members can sit in the same room, separated through the virtual void of the internet as they both write down their thoughts through a well-written blog. Two laptops. Two minds. Two worlds. Two different paths. One world. One G-d. One Father. One Family. Love.

Were somebody to ask me — several months prior — how I would handle the departure of my brother, Mark, I’m not sure how I would have responded. There were times where I questioned his decision to join the Navy and leave everybody behind for four years. Other times, I realized just how much respect I had for him, as he made a decision many would not have the courage to do. Now, my thoughts are clear and I can stand behind his decision with full confidence that he is doing the right thing. I am also proud to stand next to him, brother to brother, knowing that he is developing into one of the best men the world has ever seen. I do not say this lightly. In the face of many men whom we consider to be great; presidents, senators, athletes, and political leaders, I believe Mark to be one of the greatest the world will see, though not for these reasons.

Mark has been many things to many people. To some, he has been a brother. To others, he has been a friend. Others have known Mark as a spiritual mentor, leader, and role model. To two others, he is known as a son. All of us have many of these identities. However, Mark displays the rare talent to take each of these roles/positions and execute them perfectly. Within our family, he is a son and brother; both little and big brother. And within each of these roles, he plays his part perfectly. All of us know and love Mark for the person he is, and the role through which we know him.

While I have had the privilege of being his brother, I’ve also had the opportunity to spend the last six months with him as a roommate. During these times, we have spent many quality hours together as only close brothers could. We have been able to encourage and build each other up as strong men, rather than tear each other down. We encouraged each other through difficult times, rather than leaving each other to fend for self. We challenged each other to be more, living up to higher standards as Godly men of honor, rather than simply accepting lethargy and current circumstances. Through many conversations, we discussed what it means to be the son of a Plaat, with all of the challenges and difficulties presented within our family. At the gym, we pushed each other to blow far beyond our physical limits of strength; each reaching new personal records and a chiseled physique. It was my privilege to watch as Mark one time loaded up the entire leg press sled, pressing well over 1,200 pounds of weight. It’s the most our gym has ever seen.

One of the most difficult moments of my life was as I watched Mark get knocked out, as he stepped foot into the 8 sided cage, fighting an opponent far more skilled than he was. As he fell to the ground, two brothers fell that moment. However, I knew Mark’s battle was not in the cage, but in the events leading up to the cage. By setting foot into that arena, he had done what many men would be too afraid to do. He was, and is, fearless.

Another fond memory I have of Mark is the day he turned 18, as we both went to go skydiving. At that time, he did not know where he was going. However, as we both plummeted out of the plane, I can assure you it was one of the best experiences either of us has ever experienced. We shared these moments together. And I am glad we did. Prior to our jump, we both sat on chairs and waited for our plane to arrive. While Mark gazed strongly forward, I had a double of tobacco in my lip as I tried to ease away the impending tension. And onward Mark gazed…

Two brothers, one plane. Ecstasy.

Sometimes you have to take a jump into the unknown to discover your purpose.

Within our family — or at least the three older siblings — Mark has presented himself as the family pet. Everybody loves to have Mark around, introducing him to their friends, spending time with him, and sharing in moments that are truly special and rare. He’s been the favorite person to have around, as he adds value to every situation and circumstance in life. Come to think of it, there is not a single moment or event that I would not want Mark, as I believe he adds something to all.

And now, the younger brother becomes his own man. No longer in even the faintest shadow of his family, Mark has the opportunity to pursue his life, future, and happiness. He is free to approach and explore all that he desires, without the hindrance of others around him. As he embarks on this journey, I cannot help by feel the strongest sense of pride and love that only a brother could have. However, it is much stronger than just the love of a brother; Mark is my best friend.

Together, we have laughed, cried, fought, questioned, discovered, driven, trained, argued, agreed, loved, cherished, encouraged, worshiped, and lived. We have lived our lives together. And now, it is time that he lives his life separate from any of his family, as I quickly grow to do the same.

Mark,

What words could I say that could possibly express how I feel at this moment? You’ve been here through the thick and the thin times. As we have both so very recently begun to uncover and discover the roots of who we are as brothers and sons, I can only say that the journey ahead is one full of adventure and life. Life, seen through the eyes of those who know how to appreciate, value, and grab onto it.

Fear is far from my heart, as I know you will take this opportunity to spend the next four years of your life as a training ground to develop, equip, and prepare yourself for the rest of your life. Others would join the military to simply kill the time. You joined in order that you might take advantage of the time you have been given.

Your mind is sharp, body strong, and heart beating full of love for those around you. You are a man after G-d’s own heart. You are a man. While we are not perfect, if there were a youth who would ask me for advice on how to live his life, I would have full confidence in pointing to you as the role model to follow.

Press towards the mark, Mark. Walk in His ways with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength. He will grant you the desires of your heart, as He has been so faithful in placing them there.

With every ounce of love in my body, I pray the LORD will grant you not with safety from the harmful, but with His protection so that you may stand where others have fallen. I pray he grants you not a soft and weak heart to love others, but one that is firm, strong, and capable of fighting for those whom you love and cherish. I do not pray that your burden is light and easy, but that He will infuse your back with strength that surpasses others around you. I do not pray that your road is easy, but that He strengthens your will to take each step in the courage and confidence that He is with you. I do not pray that you find easy love, but that He provides you with the one who you will fight to claim, protect, and love with undying passion. I do not pray that your body be free from inflicted wounds from life, but that through your scars, other will grow in their faith.

To much is given, much is required. You, Mark Plaat, have been given more than dozens of those around you. And it is truly a privilege to stand by your side and walk through life with you.

Earlier this year, I told you that I never wanted to live life without you. In that respect, it was meant that I did not want to live without you being in close proximity. However, I do not feel that your departure is compromising this desire. As we have both grown strong in our faith, not as ‘nice guys’ but as Godly men of valor, I have full confidence knowing the LORD will keep you strong, safe, and sharp as you fight the battles life has to offer. You are truly a warrior.

This could go on for endless pages, so I will finish with these words that speak more than anything that has been written. You are the best brother a man could ever ask for. You are becoming the man others could only hope to be. And you are a favored son of G-d. You have given more than you’ve received, with no thought to ask for anything in return. Your heart is bursting with love (though sometimes hard to see!) for those around you. And I know that your path is unique to those who have lived before you, while setting the standard for those who will follow after you.

You will conquer.

I love you.

Your brother,

Aaron

Hey blood brother, you’re one of our own
You’re as sharp as a razor
And as hard as a stone
Hey blood brother, you’re bad to the bone
You’re a natural killer
In a bad place alone

Comments
  • your parents raised 2 very fine young men…men of God. you are not only blessed to be siblings (most have those…i do), but amazingly blessed to have such strong roots in your relationship as you and mark do, as that is hard to come by! what an amazing testament of family…you’ve blessed me today! 🙂

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