(Photo by Selma Komisky)
Speaking Up on Being a “Big Sister”/“Big Brother”
By Michelle Ochen
We all have something we are passionate about. For most, it comes from an experience we went through––perhaps moved by something you saw, something you felt, or something you lacked. However it came to be, a desire was birthed that grows into passion. Mine came from what I experienced at a influential time in my life.
Growing up, my two older brothers were my best friends. Once they moved out, I found myself alone to figure out middle school, and I couldn’t apply the skills they taught me to the girl drama I was facing at school. I needed a big sister to speak into my life, someone I could look up to and befriend. I believe that young girls who have a godly older role model have an exceedingly higher chance of making it through the teen years without unnecessary scars.
Fast forward, at present, my mother is my best friend, but it was not always that way. The teen years brought attitude that distanced me from a close relationship with my mom. She was not the woman I would run to with the daily teen problems. I wanted someone I felt could relate more. I do not think I was the only teenage girl who experienced this. Actually, I think this describes most teen-parental relationships.
Many teens feel a need to communicate certain things to a “big sister” or “big brother” in their life. There are certain things a young girl or guy does not want to talk to her mom or dad about. They don’t want to ask and cause them to worry that she or he is thinking such thoughts or has such curiosities. I am passionate to be available for young girls. I want them to know that I want to be their friend. I want them to feel the freedom to confide in me or bounce ideas off of me.
I was blessed to have several “big sisters” in my life during the teen years. Most came through a connection at youth group. They were relatable because it had not been too long since they walked the same path. They were beautiful, so I could admire and learn tips about womanhood from them. They were godly, and that attribute made them stand out and be more like them. Yet the greatest quality about them is they were available for me. They held open the door for friendship. They never made me feel too young but treated me like a young woman and grew my confidence by valuing my questions and stories. They made time for me, and that told my young heart that I was worth it.
How do we find these “big sisters” and “big brothers” for the teens in our generation? I believe it begins with you and I making ourselves available (guys with guys, girls with girls). When you see a younger person at church, sit with them. When you see one crying in public, be an arm of comfort. When you hear of one struggling, write her a letter of encouragement, send a text, or invite that person to hang out. We have to reach out because most girls and guys desiring a “big sister” or “big brother” do not know how to ask. If God brings a young girl or guy into your life, I pray you would embrace it as a little sister or brother sent from Him. Not someone to look down upon because they may be young and less mature, but someone to look upon, befriend and help her rise up into the woman or man of calling that God has created her or him to be. Tell the next young girl you see, dressed well, that she is beautiful or that you admire her style. Chances are she’s struggling with choosing modesty over the contemporary.
The next young guy you see keeping himself physically pure, encourage him in his decision and how much you respect him for going against the flow of our culture and our society.
It’s time that we older sisters and older brothers choose to be big sisters and brothers to the younger generation, encourage them to walk in godliness and set an example for them to follow through friendship and availability. I challenge you to get coffee with a younger person and watch the rippling effect one personal invitation and conversation can make in her life.