a corsage of 3 friendly peachy roses

An Older Sister's Coping Secret

Being born as the oldest or older sister in a family seems to have a strong impact on our personality and character. Older sisters are often put in charge of young siblings, from an early age. They learn to be in charge, to be the responsible one. The younger brothers and sisters may chafe at us and call us bossy. - Yes, I AM an oldest sister too. But someone has to be the sensible one, who keeps our world from tipping over, right?

Just what ARE our responsibliities as an older sister? How much of what we do and feel for our siblings, and others. when we are in charge of a program, is ordained of God, and how much is extra duties we've taken on ourself?

We may appear to be in control, but we have feelings too. Maybe you ask deeply emotional questions like these; Do I really need to hurt so much when I see one brother in emotional pain and the others ignoring him? Why does that darling baby sister, now grown up, want nothing to do with me? I cannot take off my feelings like an ugly, stretched out of shape sweater, and put it in a bag for the recyclers, can I? Is it really up to me to be the glue that holds the family together?

If you are an older sister, you will have noticed that you have taken on more and more care-giving roles the rest of your life. Did you perhaps even choose that kind of job without realizing it? Did you marry someone who needed to be looked after? Your younger siblings may have got away with never growing up, while you feel like you skipped your childhood years and matured into a responsible adult before you were a teen.

Is this good or bad?

Taking care of weaker, helpless people is godly and good. We have to be careful that our mixed emotions and the charges others throw at us does not negate or undo the good we have done. If your parent(s) were sick or dysfunctional, you may have been the one who kept the family together, and surviving to adulthood. That is VERY GOOD. God wants to bless you for it!

On the other hand, we may have to cleanse ourselves of bad feelings and memories. We need to take a clearer look at what happened in the past, and how we relate to those siblings now. Sometimes that means asking for a new relationship.

If possible review your earlier big sister years with an understanding counsellor, or a friend who can be objective in listening to your stories. If you have none of these available, try writing it all out in a letter to God. Look for truth to be revealed to you. By that I mean, if certain things you did were good acts of care-giving or thoughtfulness, and your motives were pure, claim them as good memories, and allow yourself to enjoy them and be glad, for God is pleased too.

If certain things were done with wrong motives, if you made mistakes, humbly go apologize to the sibling or person involved, and let them know that you are sorry. Ask forgiveness. Whether they agree or not, when you have done that, it is time to let them go. After you have tried to make it right, you no longer need to beat yourself with that deed. Forgive yourself, and let it go into the garbage. Don't carry that rotten thing around in your soul any longer. Be done with it.

Thirdly, look for the points of affirmation and love you have received. Set them aside to treasure in your good memories. But if you got very few, then it's time to find help. New understanding friends who openly express their admiration and respect for you are in order.

The BEST Friend I can recommend, one who is willing to be your friend even if no one else is - is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He rose from the dead and is alive forever more, and is present with those who receive Him by faith in the form of the Holy Spirit. In the Bible you can find out what He is like, and what He says to you, and you can freely chatter to Him any time, all the time, and tell Him all your secrets and thoughts and dreams. Even your sighs He can hear and respond to; He values your intimate one-on-one time.

There was a pair of sisters who were good close friends of Jesus, when He walked the roads in Judea, now Israel. Martha and Mary ran the family home in the village of Bethany, and took care of a sickly brother. Jesus loved to drop in on them. He knew He had a standing invitation whenever He was on His way to Jerusalem.

In one of those impromptu visits, Martha, the oldest sister, bustled off to the kitchen to see to rustling up a good meal for Jesus and His group of men. Mary, the younger sister sat down at Jesus' feet and pulled up her knees to prop up her chin, and she listened to every word He said. But Martha got exasperated. She came into the guest area and asked Jesus to scold her sister for not coming to help and share the work. He turned around and rebuked Martha for worrying about too many little things. He said this time Mary had choose the better course of action.

Whoa! Isn't that interesting?

Sounds like we don't have as many responsibilities as we tend to take on, and the Lord Jesus would prefer that we spend quality time with Him first.

I'll tell you the truth, I'm one of those oldest sisters who has had to depend on Jesus' friendship a lot! It has saved my sanity many different times. He has helped me realize that it is good that I'm such a caring older sister - He meant me to be that way when He created me. But for the perfect balance between good quality caring, and becoming over-bearing and obnoxious, I really do better when I talk things over with Him first. In fact, that's when I've made the best decisions and moves. He really does help me find helpful truths in His written messages in the Bible, and He speaks to my spirit and guides me in a very personal way too.

This is great news for all older sisters! We can cope with our responsibilities beautifully, and we can have the love and respect and the understanding we need as well. Perhaps from the people God puts into our lives, but for sure from the Lord Himself.

Are your friendships important to you? You'll want to read the first eight chapters of the book or order it in either softcover or e-book formats, Ruthe's Secret Roses.

Or, the softcover from BookLocker

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Ruth Marlene Friesen

Ruth Marlene Friesen
The Responsible One

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Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada