J & B,
I know I’m not around much. I know I keep saying we should go on another sibling date and don’t follow through. I know that I don’t do the dishes my fair share, and I don’t show up for all your events, and I’m not home for late-night chats and silly face competitions much any more. I know it feels like I brush you aside sometimes. I know my college life is almost as challenging to keep up with for you as it is for me. I know I don’t say it enough (as in…ever), but I miss you. And as I watch you grow up, albeit from more of a distance now, there are a few things I want you to know. Things I wish I would have known. Things people probably told me, but I didn’t listen to because those people were adults who were supposed to say stuff like that. But right now, I’m only sort of an adult. So, from the heart of your big sister who really does love you a whole lot, here goes.
1. I like you. I really actually do think you two are great human beings. I mean, you’re hilarious. Both of you. And smart. Like, ridiculously, unfairly intelligent and smart. You’re thinkers and doers. You’re not ashamed of what you believe. You are friendly, likable, entertaining, and witty. I have fun with you. Very few people can make me laugh as much as you two. You’re both different, and that’s a good thing. J, you help me understand how guys think (or, at least I try to understand), and B, you teach me how to be truly thankful for girls whose disposition is the exact opposite of mine. Both of you inspire me with your unique faith journeys, and the different ways you express who Jesus is to you and who you want him to be in your life as you learn to know him more. J, I like your style. B, I like your stories. I like your personalities. I like your hearts. I like you.
2. I’m not perfect.
Lets read that again: I am not perfect. That statement could not be more true. Maybe you don’t see it, maybe you’re sick of living in the shadow of your older sister who always does everything right, maybe I imply that I am by telling you how to do things all the time – but I’m not. I make mistakes. Sometimes I make intentional choices that are wrong. I hurt people, I’m not always compassionate, I don’t live out love very well, and I’m an incredibly self-centered person. Maybe from what you see, looking up to me, I have it all together. But I don’t. And here’s a secret…no one does. Not a single person. We’re all broken, and that includes me. I need grace desperately, and anything “good” that I do is by grace alone. Strong brother and sweet sister, I love you dearly, but don’t make me the standard by which you live your life. Look to Jesus. You don’t have to compare your actions to mine – instead, follow the example of Christ. He is the only truly perfect older brother you will ever have.
3. You have awesome parents.
Stop rolling your eyes, no one bribed me to say that. But you really do. Mom and Dad take their calling to invest in your lives seriously, and they probably know you better than anyone else. Know that while sometimes they make mistakes and can be frustrating and confusing…they walk by grace too. Be willing to offer them a little. They have life experience that you can’t even come close to claiming. They know Jesus, and in discipling you they are fulfilling a responsibility given them by God. You can trust them. You can share things with them. They are truly wise, they desire to see you walking in the truth, and they are willing to get their hands dirty in training you how to do that. They want to have a good relationship with you, but that has to go two ways, and for you to experience that blessing you have to be willing to put your effort in as well. Believe me, having a good relationship with Mom and Dad when you head off into the big crazy world is invaluable – and the time to build into that is now. Don’t miss out.
4. You don’t need to rush.
Yeah, that whole relationships thing. It’s a pretty big topic to tackle, and quite frankly, I don’t want to. But here’s what I have for you: it’s okay to slow down. What’s the hurry? You have your whole life ahead of you, and high school has enough drama of it’s own without the whole dating dynamic. Take it from someone who’s run the gamut of perspectives – I know the difficulty of having to be the one to end a relationship, and the hurt of being the one rejected; I understand a little of the ache of wanting there to be someone when there simply isn’t, and the peace of being confident in the decision to not “put myself out there”. Contrary to popular opinion, the fact that I didn’t date in high school was not because mom and dad had ridiculous rules (although boundaries they did have), it was because I intentionally chose that I didn’t want to deal with that scene at that point in my life. And looking back, I truly treasure that time. Honestly, sometimes a little part of me wants to go back to when it was simple and easy and relationships weren’t difficult to navigate because I didn’t have any self-imposed pressure to “find someone”. J, some girls are gonna throw themselves at you. Treat them with respect, dignity, and gentleness, but set your standards high and be strong in those standards. Constantly be in Scripture and learn to be open to the word “wait”. It’s not a race. There’s time. Let yourself mature as a man of God before involving the sacred emotions of another heart in your decisions. B, fall in love with Jesus before you let your heart focus on anyone else. You don’t have to be constantly wishing for what’s next, but instead enjoy every moment as it is given to you – these days are precious! You do you, girl, but choose to set your sights on things of eternal value. Honor your brothers in the faith. Surrender your relationship fears to Jesus. It’s not a race. There’s time. Grow into the woman God has called you to be and exuberantly serve him in whatever capacity he places you. And both of you are welcome to sit me down anytime and we can talk and pray through this whole crazy trust adventure together. I mean that.
5. People will fail you, Jesus will not.
Mom and Dad will fail you. I will fail you. You will fail each other. Your friends, employers, coworkers, professors, advisers, and mentors will fail you. Basically, people can be pretty stupid. Love them anyway. But don’t live your life for the purpose of impressing fallible people. Don’t compare yourself to the individuals surrounding you, because someone will always come up short. Don’t wrap your identity in the acceptance that you receive from other people, because it will never satisfy, it will never be enough. You are called by God and equipped with his Spirit to make his Name known and be a blessing to the nations – seek first his kingdom and his righteousness. Pursue holiness. Walk in truth. Seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly. Seek the approval of Christ and walk in accordance with his Word. He is always faithful. He will never fail.
I love you, brother mine and sister dear. I really do.
Oh, and today I washed all the dishes, just for you.