For the first seven years of my life I was an only child. Most people think that sounds sad and lonely, but I thought I was doing ok. I was outgoing and bossy, and apparently I had all the little boys in preschool wrapped around my finger (a far cry from adult Hannah). I enjoyed playing with my favorite doll Beth and my many Barbie dolls. When my parents and I moved from an apartment to a house before I started kindergarten, I had my own room AND a play room–I was living the life!
Fast forward to kindergarten Hannah. Mom and Dad sat me down on the ledge of our fireplace (these are the memories I have, but I can almost guarantee my dad will tell you it happened differently) and told me I was going to be a big sister. This news completely rocked my world. Why do I need a baby brother or sister?! I’m doing perfectly fine on my own. I get my parents and my grandparents (who are the fun version of parents) all to myself. Christmas is all about me because I’m the only kid there. I have TWO rooms in our house. I have lots of friends and a best friend (Margaret) who is basically like a sister anyway. What more could I need?
Now fast forward a couple more months to when we found out if I was going to have a baby brother or sister. I don’t know why or how, but I got it in my head that I needed a baby brother. In my ideal world (and the world I thought I was the boss of), a baby brother was exactly what I needed. But boy was I wrong (is that a pun? No pun intended?)! My parents had the brilliant idea of taking me with them to their doctor’s appointment where they found out if they were having a boy or a girl. When that nurse excitedly told my parents that it was a girl, I lost it! I ran around the room opening drawers and cabinets and pulling things out. I was a six year old throwing a huge tantrum where people could see and hear me. The nurse looked at my parents and asked, “Is she ok?!” With what I can imagine was the most mortified look on their faces, they responded, “She’ll be fine. She just wanted a brother.”
Fast forward a little bit more with me to Spring 2017. My baby sister who I wanted to be a brother is now a grown, beautiful, sassy, smart, stubborn, and extremely funny young woman. This past year living at home has not been the greatest–there have been lots of ups and downs. But it has been one of the sweetest because I had the privilege of seeing my baby sister go from a scared, quiet high schooler to an excited, confident (almost) college student. The Lord has granted me the ability to walk with my sister right by her side in this season of transition, uncertainty, and change. I have had the honor of helping her navigate friendships, find a prom dress, proudly watch her walk across the stage to get her high school diploma, figure out which dorm she should live in, and decide what classes she should take–all things I would have missed out on had the Lord wanted me in a different city for this year.
Ok, now fast forward one last time to August 7, 2017 (today). In nine days my baby sister is loading up her car (and probably my mom’s too, I mean let’s be real) and making the six hour drive to the doorstep of her freshman dorm room. The thought of that (and actually typing out those words) makes me want to burst into tears. Tears with so many meanings and emotions and memories behind them. I am so sad to see her go and to admit that we are both growing up and life and our family dynamic is changing drastically. I’m sad to be living on the other side of the country as she goes through this extremely fun, exciting, challenging, and growing time in her life. But mostly I’m proud. I am so proud of the woman she is becoming. I am so proud to be “Claire’s Big Sister.” I am proud of the way she is facing her fears and going to a school where she doesn’t know anyone. I am so proud of the faith and love for the Lord that has grown within her over the last few years. And I am expectant that she will continue to grow and learn about who God is and who He has created her to be. I am expectant that she will make some of her greatest lifelong friends and memories that she will carry with her for a lifetime.
I know the purpose of college is to get an education, but I think it has an even greater purpose, a more ultimate purpose. I think college is the perfect time in one’s life to figure out who you are as a person and who you want to be. I think it is the perfect time to learn about God, people, and the world around you. It is the time to figure out if you want to follow and do everything your parents did and taught you or make your own path and your own decisions. So because of my view of college and the amazing time in a person’s life that it can be, I want to share with you, Claire, some things that I think are essential for you to remember and carry with you always (and you’ve probably heard me say most of these things, but I’m trying to drill them in your head and your heart!).
1. Your identity will always and forever only come from who you are in Christ.
What sorority you are in, the major you choose, the clubs you join, the GPA you end up with, the job you get after college will never and can never define who you are. The only One who can do that is your Creator. He has created you in His own image, and because you are a child of God who has been washed clean by the blood of Christ, your identity is ultimately in Him.
2. Make your walk with the Lord a priority now while you’re in college because it will set the tone for your walk with Him for the rest of your adult life.
Find a church where you can get involved, where you can know people and be known by people. Ask questions about things that confuse you in the Bible. Find a ministry on campus where you can find friends and leaders who are pursuing the same things you are and who will point you to Christ (I’m totally biased toward this one). Read your Bible daily. And start and end each day in conversation with Him (I’m preachin’ to the choir here because this is definitely something I need to grow in).
3. Have fun!
Yes, college is about going to school and getting an education. And yes, I fully believe that since this is where God has called you to be at this point in your life you need to steward your time wisely and work to glorify the Lord through your schoolwork. But I also think it’s ok to have a little fun. College should be the time of your life that you look back on so fondly that it brings a little smile to your face. Try new things, make new friends, create lasting memories. If you do it right, then you will find some of your best friends and make some of your most favorite memories in those four years.
So Clairey, I want you to know: I love you with my whole heart. You will always be one of my greatest friends and closest confidants. And don’t worry, I don’t hold it against you that you were a girl and not a boy (anymore).
Your Big Sis