i really like to give gifts.
to me, there’s few things that feel more exciting than to pick out a gift that i know someone else will truly enjoy. once it’s ready, i present it to the person and watch as their eyes light up. it’s just fun.
some days feel like a gift. i was thinking about that last night.
i have three younger siblings who are 11, 8, and 7 years old. i’m 27. that puts me in the place of big sister, but it’s not a standard big sister role. it feels very different because of our age difference.
my parents have dedicated their lives to raising kids. there are 6 of us in all, three of us are now adults. every once in a while, i know that they get very tired. being a parent is exhausting [so i’ve observed]. so, they took a break, and i said i would watch the kiddos.
on thursday nights, i go to class. afterwards, i went to their house. it was 9:30pm and the kids were going to sleep. in an uncharacteristic gesture, i decided to go to sleep early, as well.
i’m glad i did, because the next day was a whirlwind. by 8:15am, i had three kids awake, fed, dressed, with backpacks and lunches in hand, boarding a school bus. by 10am i was sitting at my desk trying to breathe, and by 3:30pm i was back at my parents’ house, watching the children disembark from the bus.
with 6 hours of entertaining looming ahead of me, i prayed.
i think my prayer might have gone something like this: “okay, Jesus. you and me. let’s do this.”
every family has their quirks. mine is no exception. over the years, i have discovered that no matter how many things change, the loyalty i feel towards my family never will. it ebbs and flows, of course.
but i was 18 years old when everybody in my family got together, dressed in nice clothes, and stood in a courtroom. the judge looked at all of us, packed together on a bench, and then turned to my parents, who were holding a small boy. he asked if they wanted to adopt him and i remember feeling tears run down my face as they said, “yes, please.”
it’s funny how two words can change so much, but i remember recognizing at that moment that i was a big sister. for the first time.
two years ago, everybody repeated the process. we all dressed nice and went down to the courtroom. only this time, there were two little girls that got added. and with that, my fate was sealed. big sister of three.
like every other role i play in my life, it was an adjustment. but i take it very seriously.
when my 7 year old sister asks me to paint her nails, i do a good job. i’m careful and neat and i taught her how to blow on them so that they would dry, and not to touch them every 15 seconds to check on their progress.
when my 8 year old sister tells me that she wants to grow her hair out when she gets older and put blonde streaks in it and have me “flatten” it so that she can look like hannah montana, it is my job to talk with her about what beauty is, and the difference between being pretty on the outside and being lovely on the inside.
when my 11 year old brother tells me that strawberry ice cream is “boss,” or that he brushes his hair every morning because he wants it to look like the singer in a british boy band, or asks me to tell him a story about a monkey named peaches, i feel this warm feeling inside of my heart that he wants to share stuff with me.
i spent a long time not being a big sister. and now i am.
i wonder if God likes gift-giving as much as i do. i wonder if He was watching me for awhile, figuring out what would really benefit me and what i would really like, and picked out three little siblings. i wonder if when He gave them to me, He enjoyed watching my reaction, the way that my expression changed when i saw what He was giving me.
there’s a playlist of songs on my ipod, stuff that i never listen to except when i have three kids in my car. i titled it “for them” and i put it on when we’re all driving around together. last night it was rainy and dark, and all four of us were in the car. we’d just eaten frozen yogurt. the kids put way too much stuff on top of theirs and couldn’t finish it. i had no such problem.
a song came on, and without even thinking about it, every single one of us started singing along at the top of our lungs. apparently we had been doing this for so many years that everyone knew every word. usually, i’m sure that i would sing along without even thinking about it. but yesterday, i felt it.
this role. it’s a gift, but it’s more than that.
i’ve been entrusted.
these kids weren’t just given to me as my little siblings, i have been entrusted with the role of being their big sister. and there’s a difference. it’s the difference between having something and doing something with what you have.
in the Bible, Jesus tells a story of a bunch of people who are given some money. three of them. the first guy invests it and gets twice as much back. the second guy just hangs onto it. the third guy takes the money and digs a hole in the ground, then tosses it in [why?].
later, the one who gave out the money in the first place wants to know what they did with it. imagine his disappointment when he realizes that not everyone he entrusted was responsible with what he had given them.
being entrusted is an honor.
and being looked up to by three kids? that’s a responsibility.
and being a big sister? it’s the best.
[the picture: yes, we made those masks ourselves. fierce, right?]