I have never really written much about myself on this blog, because this blog was started to encourage others in their walks with God, not to be filled with the every day happenings in my life. That would be boring indeed. But, I have been so encouraged by reading stories about the lives of other big sisters, that I thought to write a few posts now and then about my family life might be a good thing.
I am the second oldest child in a family of twelve. I have five brothers and four sisters, and being a big sisters is one of my biggest joys. My siblings could tell you that sometimes I am not nice. If you are a big sister you know what they mean. Sometimes I snap at them, sometimes I put them down would I should be building them up. I am not perfect, but I try to do my best, and I have learned a thing or two along the way.
Number one, large families are a blessing. I have had a lot of people comment on how hard it must be on my mother taking care of all of us and homeschooling us on top of that. I smile every time. Many hands make light work, and we have many hands. Just about every child from a big family would tell you that they learned to help around the house at a young age, and that at some point they have helped tutor their younger siblings. Some would say that that is to much to put on a young person's shoulders, and that your growing years should not be filled with so much responsibility, but I know that for myself the added responsibilities, while not aways a joy, have made me a better person. I am more prepared for the responsibilities that come with being an adult, I am less selfish (I hope!), and I am more thankful when others go out of their way to serve me because I understand the effort that went into it. So, even though I started washing dishes at the age of four or five, and washing clothes a few years later, and changed dirty diapers more times then I can count, I still say, I am very blessed to be a part of a large family.
Secondly, when you are an older sister, your siblings look up to you, even when you mess up, so you really have to watch your step. Even though your siblings notice your mistakes, they usually are very forgiving and willing to help you do better. All you have to do is ask. The other good thing is, when you snap at them and hurt their feelings, they will forget it pretty quickly if you tell them you are sorry and then spend some time doing something they enjoy with them. Do not stand in fear of walking lest you make a mistake and lead your siblings astray. Step out on faith, asking God to guide you, and do not stop at walking forward, run. If you make a mistake, seek forgiveness, admit your wrong and continue onward striving to do better having learned from your mistakes. Your siblings will learn from you example and will admire the fact that you humbly ask forgiveness when you mess up, and that you do not give up, but strive daily to do your best.
One of the most encouraging things I have learned by being a big sister is, even if I never get the chance to do something big to change the world for Christ, if I am faithful in the little things God will bless me. One of those little things is teaching your younger siblings and helping to bring them up to fear the Lord and to encourage them to go about His business. It is a great privilege, and the responsibility of it is nothing if God is on your side. The rewards of watching your younger siblings grow into godly adults, who love the Lord with all their hearts, is worth every ounce of effort you put into helping them grow and so much more.
As an fellow older sister my advise to you is this: Give it all you have got. Be the best encourager, the best helper, the best playmate, the best teacher, the best friend, the best big sister you can be. You may feel discouraged because there is not an opportunity for you to be involved with groups who are making a difference in the lives of others. Your church and other ministry involvement may be limited, and that may leave you longing for something, anything, you can do for Christ. Be discouraged no longer. God has given you a special work. He has charged you to help your parents to bring up your brothers and sisters in the way they should go. He has given you the opportunity to learn how to serve and love unconditionally. Being a good big sister takes a lot of effort, let me tell you, and this work is preparing you for bigger things in your future. Noticed I did not say better things, because I think next to raising your own children, helping to raise your siblings is the most rewarding opportunity we are given.
Think of it this way. I have nine siblings. If they all grow up to be godly parents and each of them has nine children and their children have nine children and so on, and they were all raised to love the Lord as you helped teach your siblings too, you would have impacted twenty-seven lives, and that does not include the lives of those outside of their families that your siblings and their children and grandchildren may impact. Just think about it. God has given you a responsibility to touch the lives of those around you with His love, fortunately, He does not as us to carry it alone. He is ready to help us. Focus on living your life for Him, and the rest will not be so hard.
A warning, do not, I mean, do not, try to make your siblings be what you think they should be. Encourage them to be who God wants them to be. Pray with them and for them, and be there when they need you. Be a good example. Live your life for the Lord, they will be watching. That is all you can do. You cannot make them be who you want them to be, that is not what I have been trying to tell you. What I have been trying to say, is that you can have a lot of impact on you siblings lives by setting a good example. Chances are they will learn from you.
I would love to hear from all of you about what you have learned, whether or not you were home schooled, or from a large family, or not.
To God be the Glory,