It is hard to be the oldest. I was the oldest of 6, and I loved a lot of it, but there were so many times when I felt invaded, overloaded, misused, and forced to grow up too quickly. And sometimes I see those things in my oldest, Emma. I wrote her this note to encourage her, but it turned out to be pretty therapeutic for myself! So I'm posting it here on the blog, just in case my fellow first-borns need a reminder of how important they are. P.S. If you know Emma in real life, please use discernment in mentioning this to her. I grappled with whether or not to post this publicly, and although I think this is right, I'd love to maintain a healthy balance between blogging and real life. Thank you!
When I saw you drop your head into your hands, sobbing with frustration, my heart broke with the familiarity of it. I know how you felt, because I have been exactly where you are. I know you weren't crying over the few pieces of gum Eli stole from your purse. You are a generous and caring sister, and you share what you have out of an abundance of love for your family.
But there is a pain that hits your heart on the 2nd, 6th, 10th time your little brother invades your space, or breaks your thing, or writes on your school paper IN A SINGLE DAY. I know that pain. "Is there anything that's just mine?" "Will everything I have get broken?" "Do I have to share everything?" I remember asking myself those questions several times a day when I lived at home with your aunt and uncles. Because being the oldest is the ABSOLUTE WORST!
But it's also the best.
Sweet one, God didn't make you the oldest kid in our family by accident. He placed you here on purpose. And He has given you, and will continue to give you, exactly the skills you need to thrive in this role of Big Sister. He has given you patience, long-suffering, a sense of humor, and a love for these 3 humans that no one else ON THIS PLANET can match. Even me. Even Dad. Your love for them, and your ability to forgive them, over and over, relentlessly love them no matter what, has the power to WIN their hearts to the Kingdom of God, like no amount of instruction or discipline from me and Dad could even come close to. That is a powerful gift. And a heavy responsibility. One that you cannot bear on your own.
God has promised to give you the grace that you need for your situation in life. But you have to ask for it. And like manna from Heaven in the desert, it will come to you in exactly the amount that you need for that day. And tomorrow, you will need to ask for it again. He will never say No!
Sweet sis, this wasn't the first hard day you've had in this crazy family, and I promise it won't be your last. I won't always be able to replace or repair things your adoring siblings take or break, but I can today. I bought you this pack of replacement gum as a reminder to you that I love you. I know what you're going through, and you can always talk to me.
God is using even this little "gum trial" to refine and strengthen you into the woman He wants you to be. And I am the luckiest mom on Earth to have a front row seat to witness these changes in you. These lessons of endurance and forgiveness will never leave you, and you will be equipped to do anything God asks of you.
I love you more than the world, Emmie Bear. I am so proud of the person you are.