My brother is one of my heroes.
Often (for comedy value) I’ve found myself telling stories of Christmas fainting episodes, crash-dummy-alert bicycle rides, handfuls of sand in my mouth, borrowed face masks and the occasional viewing of Love Actually.
But today for some reason I feel like telling some other stories.
So Nath, from a grateful little sister to a courageous big brother, there’s a few thank you’s I want to say.
Because I remember when we were both little and you slept on the top bunk and I was on the bottom. I remember—in a childish, girl-like fashion—being afraid of the dark and feeling certain there were crocodiles under my bed. Yes, crocodiles. I expect you teased me for a while, but I know I found comfort in you being there. I figured you’d fight the baddies for me.
I remember always feeling included when your friends came round and how you’d let me be part of your games. I remember making flints for pretend battles when we were in Wales, making air-force bases at Grandad’s and tagging along to football matches so I could join in with what you were doing. I felt like I was good enough to play with you. And that mattered growing up.
I remember standing in the middle of the flower beds while grandad tried to coax us out, taking my lead from the mischievous look on your face and learning when to concede and when to run faster and play harder. It was usually the latter.
I remember countless adventures, making hide-outs and sitting on the branch of the Magnolia tree at the bottom of the garden. Just being kids together. I remember making huge sandcastle-forts year after year in Dunster, getting the big spades out and being driven by your vision for bigger and better every time. We’d stand on top as the waves crashed in, feeling a sense of accomplishment, feeling like champions…to be fair we still do that now.
And I remember when we moved house and I got my own room. It felt too big to have to myself. I remember making a hideaway in the small gap between the end of your bed, the wall and the book case and trying to sleep there every now and again. And I remember loving Christmas Eve because I got to stuff the futon between the desk and camp out in your room.
I remember Year 7 at school, and being referred to as “Nathan’s little sister” by pretty much every teacher and student above my year group. I remember pretending it really bothered me, but secretly grinning inside.
You taught me to fight. In a good way. You expected me to match you, push back, hold my own and so I did. You helped me find my voice, articulate my opinions and understand that people can disagree and it not change love nor value. You raised the competitive in me.
I remember the hilarity of learning to drive with you and the car we shared. And while I concede that, “if we shared lungs like we share cars you’d be dead by now”, I love that you let me have it when I needed it—that you chose to give.
I remember going for adventurous walks in Richmond park—usually past mid-night—and watching you be brave while obviously feeling scared. You were this perfect model of daring, charging on regardless. I tried to go once without you and got so scared I ran back to my car. Your big-brother-protection made me feel safe.
I loved growing up alongside you. I think I’ve been your biggest fan. Not that I’d let you know it.
And I remember that summer you came back from uni and told me, “sis, I’ve decided I’m gonna treat you so well that no loser will ever get a look-in with you. Guys who can’t even step up to the basic level of how I treat you won’t even appear on your radar”. You walked on the curb-side of the road. You watched your words around me and you got annoyed with others who didn’t. I remember thinking you were really weird at the time, I didn’t really get it. But then a few years later I remember looking over at a guy I never should have dated and telling him, “I dunno what it is, but you’re just not as good as my big brother. He makes me feel safer and more valued than you do”.
And then I got it. Your plan worked.
And I’ve never been able to lose you as my measuring stick. Sometimes I think your bar is too high, but you’ve taught me that I am valuable and worthy of more than I once thought I was. And I’m so grateful for that.
I love how your ears still prick up at the mention of a guys name, and your cunning (but not so subtle) stealing of my phone whenever you see me to check if any boys have been texting. I love the accountability you lovingly demand from me. It keeps me walking straight.
I love the countless challenges you’ve offered over the years, calling me out on things and inviting me to step up and be better than I am. I love how you’ve watched out for me and how you’ve watched over me. Your determination to look after me has saved me from stupidity a million and one times. You’ve been the voice in the back of my head.
And while I know—and parents will agree—that I’m definitely the favoured child, and the competition will never really be over, I love you and I think you’re great and that’s worth saying publicly.
I think we get so much of our understanding of God from our relationship with others and you’ve helped me in that. I’ve realised recently that I can find it hard to talk and relate to Jesus as a man—and I think that’s what prompted this post.
I love Jesus as a teacher, as an example, as someone to follow–my role-model. But as a guy sitting across the table from me, wanting to chat and know my heart?
Yeah, that can be difficult sometimes.
Because humans are inevitably flawed and guys haven’t always spoken truth into my life or acted all that wisely with my heart. But in the midst of some of those messy stories I can see you and how you’ve treated me. Not always perfect for sure, but constantly trying to honour, uphold, defend, protect, encourage and challenge me toward maturity. I have always trusted you.
And as I sit and try to figure out how to sit across the table from Jesus and be a little more vulnerable and exposed, it’s helpful to understand Jesus as a brother. As someone who loves me like you do.
Because if Jesus is my big brother, then I definitely know that to be a good thing. A very good thing.
So thank you…and “Big Love”.
From your little sister.