“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” Jeremiah 29:11 MSG
I am the oldest of three children. I am also the first grandchild on both sides
of my family. I am the definition of “the
There are lots of perks that come with being the
oldest. Hand-me downs don’t exist when
you are the first-born. As the oldest,
you get to do things first. You get the
undivided attention of your parents and grandparents when you are the only one.
But, there are some downers to being the
oldest. You are the first one that has
to learn to share – everything. You are
the “learner” child: your siblings get
to do things you were never allowed to do. And even though it’s nice to be the
first, it also means you will be the first to fail.
The first born has only adults with which to compare
himself/herself. Think about what an
oldest/only child sees: Everyone around
can walk without holding on or falling down. The only crawling seems to be to encourage the
baby to get up. You are being watched at
every moment, so you try to please. Communication is crucial and the praise
received is worth the effort. A first
born learns early that you don’t want to disappoint the big people.
The first born gets more attention. This is partly because the baby stuff is so
new, but also because the time is spent with just this one child. Just
look at photo albums or baby books. The
first child will have tons of pictures and a complete baby book. Child #2 will have a few pictures and a good
start on the baby book. Any other
siblings will just have to make do with a few snapshots and will be grateful if
a baby book was even purchased. The
first born will benefit from more time being read to and being taught at
home. Even when siblings are added, the
oldest child will continue to benefit from the time spent learning as a
As soon as another sibling is added, the oldest child
becomes a leader. We know how it should
be done and will not hesitate to point it out to our younger siblings. We will be put in charge of our siblings and
reminded that we are “older” and therefore “more responsible”. Some will call this being a natural
leader. Others call it being bossy.
First born children tend to be perfectionists, leaders, good
students, and teachers. We are often
people pleasers that fear failing. I
never tried anything that I wasn’t pretty sure I would excel at. If there was a chance that I might look
silly, I did not attempt it. I was never
good at roller skating, mainly because I did not want to fall. It hurt and people would laugh. My younger brother was a good skater. Granted, he was black and blue from throwing
himself into the “experience.” But, he
had fun and enjoyed it. I would rather
spend my time with a good book or a logic puzzle.
I was always at the top of my class in school. Learning came easy to me. I wouldn’t classify myself as an
overachiever, I just did what came easily. My classmates that thought I had it
made. While others would be praised for
getting a “B” on report cards, I had to get all “A’s and A+”. Even an “A-“wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t until I was taking college classes
that I was really challenged. I had to
learn to study. It was hard to accept
that I might not be “the best” after all.
But, it was also in college classes that I found I could enjoy learning
without being the best. As a junior
accounting major, I had a class under Dean of the School of Business, Dr.
Lauderdale. He promised to weed out the
bookkeepers from the accountants in his class.
He was strict and had high expectations.
Our class size dropped by 50% as the semester commenced. Before our last final, Dr. Lauderdale looked
at me and said “You have a B in this class.
If you ace the final or not, you have a solid B. Don’t come to the final.” I have never been so excited to be told I was
a B student!
I still struggle with perfectionistic tendencies. This causes lots of anxiety in my life. I play scenes over and over in my head of how
I disappoint my friends and family. There
are days when I feel like I’m balancing on a pin cushion. When I am out of control or over-whelmed, I
protect myself with a veil of detachment.
I separate myself from those areas.
If they don’t exist, they cannot hurt me, right? My husband helps me to see past the veil and
to accept that I can only be the best that I can be. If someone is disappointed at my best
efforts, then that’s not my problem. Hurt
and disappointments are part of life. I
cannot avoid them.
I still don’t like to do anything without a road map. I want to know EXACTLY what is coming before
I step out. But, I’ve learned that is
not always possible. But these things I
- I CAN make phone calls when I must. (Many of you
know how much a hate to do that!)
- I CAN meet new people and get to know them
without hyperventilating. (I still do
better in small groups.)
- I CAN make decisions and live my life the way
God leads me. (Even when others don’t agree/understand.)
- I CAN trust that others will love me. (Love isn’t earned, it’s given.)
I am the oldest of three children. I am the first grandchild on both sides of my
family. And, I am a beloved child of
“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my bodyPsalm 139:13-14 NLT
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.”
“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” Matthew 6:30-33 msg