Since I was a little girl, all I ever wanted was an older brother. In fact, I didn’t pine after boys wanting to date them; I only cared about finding a surrogate older brother. I dreamed that he would love to hang out with me, be super protective, and make sure I was ok. He would be the type of guy I could go to if I got into any sticky situations and he would help me sort it out.
When I was around 17, the dream older brother came into my life. He was smart, kind, and willing to take care of me – which I needed because I was in the middle of a complete emotional breakdown. We even had a talk where he said that he loved having me in his life as a little sister. It was everything I had always wanted, and I let down my walls. Two months later he told me he had lied to me and in reality he liked me and wanted to date me. I was confused but followed him along the journey, after all he was years older than me and so he must know better. One week later he told me “never mind.” That began a 3-year cycle of co-dependency, confusion, and pain. When that relationship finally blew up – enough that I could no longer put the pieces back together- I decided to kill the dream of an older brother altogether.
But this isn’t a story about ‘broken dreams guy’ this is a story about a person who brought redemption in my life after that painful season.
I first met Josh when I was 8 and he was 2. He was the cutest ‘lil tyke. The most vibrant memory I have was when I was giving him a bath (he was a toddler) and he pooped in the bathtub. I didn’t even know that was an option until then. I grew up with Josh and he was like a brother to me – a much younger brother. I moved in with his family in the same season that I was recovering from my confusing 3-year relationship.
Josh used to wrestle me to the ground and fart on me. At one point I was in a dance production and needed to practice and so he spent hours dancing with me in the basement. He and his brother would do Pilates with me. I would laugh so hard from his commentary and how often he farted that I couldn’t exercise. (Although laughing till I cried still felt like an effective ab work out.) We would go to parties and he would want to hang out with me even though we hung out all of the time at home. When we played games that I was obviously not good at he would still pick me first to be on his team.
Josh would run ahead to open every door for me. He was always looking out for me and was very opinionated when it came to how people treated me. He would ask me about the guys I was interested in and tell me they weren’t good enough for me. He would demand that I had a better standard for myself.
Looking back, I see how sometimes the things we desire the most come in very unexpected packages. If we don’t have eyes to see it we can miss the richness of answered prayers. Josh was 15 when I was 21 and yet he became the older brother that I had always prayed for. The way he protected and loved me healed my heart. His affirmation and support helped me dream again. To many he could have been just an annoying teenager but to me he set the standard of how I should be treated and gave me the courage to wait for a man who would radically love me.
We often think we know what our hearts need the most, and what that should look like. However, life has so many surprises for us. If you let go of expectations about how things should be, let go of disappointments when things don’t turn out the way you thought they would, and learn to stay open to love, you will find that every season has beautiful gifts hidden in the most unlikely of places.