“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
I love being a big sister! It’s the best job I never asked for!
As one of the eldest siblings, I treasured special moments watching my sisters and brothers grow-up. Ann’s six-year old artwork became increasingly astonishing . . . even if it was painted on the side of Mama’s favorite wooden dresser with various colors of fingernail polish. Cat was a shy and quiet child. . . until you asked her to do a “handstand” and watched as she enthusiastically placed her small hands on the floor, lowered her head between her knees and stuck one foot straight up in the air. Josh was a brilliant, yet peculiar kid, but boy did he rock it out when the “Duck Tales” theme song blasted from the TV. Justin was the first baby I remember holding; unlike Cat and Josh, he was a risk-taker and jumped at the opportunity to be the “life of the party.” And Jay, the youngest, was the tiny, cussing three-year old that followed us everywhere . . . well, I bet a whole fifteen cents that he was gonna be a girl when Mama was pregnant with him. Glad I lost that one.
I’m not a mother yet. I have, however, been a big sister for 30 years now and I’ve learned to cherish it and wear it like a bejeweled ornament around my neck. Although they are all different, my siblings schooled me regarding the one thing no one else could do: they taught me how to give.
I had to share everything!! The womb, my birthday, my bed, my room, my J toys, my clothes and, even in extreme “twin moments,” my words. This used to irritate me to no end. But one day, when Jay was 2 years old, I looked into his big, brown eyes and I remembered thinking I’d give him all those things one hundred times everyday if it meant he would be able to be all that God intended him to be. The same for Cat, Josh, Justin and Ann. I made a decision that day that I would sacrifice for them. Not because they deserved it, but because I loved them.
Sacrifice was no stranger to me. I saw my Mia Ma do so all the time, working two jobs to provide for us and, afterward, taking time to play a game of kickball when she could have slept. Her love and support did not come without sacrifice. Even as I came to know God and Jesus Christ through the Word for myself, I learned also that their love did not come without sacrifice. That love – unconditional, unmerited, unselfish and always replenishing me – made all the difference. I didn’t care about sharing anymore. I shared when Jay just wanted to sit beside me on the couch, when Justin would nap on my shoulder in the car and leave my clothes wet with sweat, when Cat and Josh needed rescuing from dogs and cats after they had provoked the animals to irritation, or, when I had to give up 5 minutes of silence on our birthday so that Ann could be honored in her “older than me by 5 minutes” status.
I heard it said that you cannot love someone and not sacrifice for them. To say “I love you” without proof of sacrifice is just talk and is worth nothing. Now, I’ve been guilty of sacrificing my time, heart and energy to trivial and unimportant matters with them. I’ve also been guilty of fighting their battles when they were not mine to fight. Busyness doesn’t equal sacrifice. Nevertheless, I’ve seen the benefits of proper sacrifice & its blessings in my life. Also, in the lives of my siblings. And, because it is so apparent in the lives of my nephews and niece, I know such will be in the lives of my children and their children. By giving in love, I’ve found that there is no “empty.” I’ve never found myself empty and my family has not lacked because of it….only gained.
My siblings have told me that I’m a great older sister. I take their word for it. They don’t make a habit of telling me things I want to hear – they are MY siblings, ya know? I’m so very proud of them and if I had a small measure in their growth, I’m honored. At times, the highest expression of love I can bestow upon others is to call them My Sustah/Brothah and take them under my wing in love . . . in sacrifice so that it costs me something. After all, that’s what Jesus did for me. Must be something to it.
Image Credit: Vickie Bowman