Monday, June 20, 2011

He's so big!

Over 19 years ago I stood in the delivery room alongside my dad as my mom pushed my baby brother into the world. "He's so big!" she gasped as he emerged. I, being but a nearly-16 year old, was confused since he looked very small to me. Was there something wrong with him? Turns out that a 9 pound baby looks small to anyone who hasn't ever given birth. He was my baby brother and was 2 years old when I left for college and my adult life. He has kind of always been my baby brother, despite a list of physical, educational, and personal achievements.

I don't often use my blog for spiritual things, not because they aren't important to me, but because they are very personal. But something big is about to happen, and I need to get this out.

In two days, he enters what we call the Missionary Training Center (MTC) for his 2-year mission for our church. It is something he has eagerly anticipated for a long time. This is a voluntary service and he and my parents (or probably mostly my parents) will pay for this. He will rely on his allowance and the kindness of strangers and members to feed him. He will immerse himself in the Mandarin Chinese language. It is a rite of passage, of sorts, in our church, and something all of the male members in my immediate and extended family have participated in, covering countries across the world. They go because they believe. They believe because they have studied. They share because they love.

A friend asked me if I was going to miss my brother while he was gone. I had to think about that one. I mean, I love him. It's just that I haven't lived with him for most of his life. I see him a couple times a year. I chat with him a handful of times. But more importantly, I know he has wanted to do this. I have wanted him to do this. So I kind of shrugged and said, "Nah. He's going to do great things and I'm excited for him."

As Joel said last night, he is about to embark on the singularly most intensely spiritual and demanding experience of his life. When other 19 and 20 year old are doing whatever it is they do (I don't want to know), my brother is going to be waking at 6 am to spend his day in service of others. When others are establishing some of their first significant relationships, my brother will be learning what it is to love his neighbor. When others are struggling with trying to figure out what they're doing with their life, my brother will be testifying of a Heavenly Father who loves us.

When we were in California, we got the chance to hear David speak in church in front of several hundred people. I'll be honest - I wondered how it would go. David isn't known for his...um...preparation. He, like myself, prefers to challenge himself by doing it at the last minute. But not this time. And as I sat there and listened to him speak, I had a realization: He is NOT my baby brother.

It was rather jarring.

There stood a strong, confident, capable young man. And as he spoke, I could not help but feel so crazy proud of him. "Look at YOU!" I wanted to squeal (I didn't). I had known he'd be able to serve a mission, but as he spoke I realized he was going to serve the bejeebers out his mission. What does that even mean?!?! I don't know! I'm too proud to think straight!

I think it means he's not just going to go through the motions, he's going to be powerful. It was a delight to spend 10 days with him and watch him play with my kids. As we played games and talked and hugged, I realized I'd been looking at him with the same nearly-16 year old eyes - seeing someone small when others saw someone big. He's not small. He's not little. He's not my baby brother. I can finally agree with my mom's assessment, "He's so big!"

I love this kid so freaking much. I look forward to hearing how crazy awesome he is (and hunting him down when I'm out there in November).

4 comments:

PaloAltoCougar said...

Would you knock it off? Two posts in a row where I get a bit teary and have to explain to others that no, I'm not undergoing some weird estrogen-replacement therapy.

But that was a superb, and much deserved, tribute. David's lucky to have five very loving, supportive siblings. But since he was everyone's favorite toy as a toddler, I guess it's only right that he still commands everyone's love and attention.

Melin said...

That was super sweet.

Janet T. Perry said...

He IS big and has had a big influence on many of us already. Can't wait to read his letters. I'm just sure he's going to have that Ostler flare with words.

Sarah Burgoyne said...

You made me tear up :) When you wrote that "He is NOT my baby brother." I felt the same way when I saw my little brother saying his vows at his wedding. It hit me like a ton of bricks. That 6 ft 2 in MAN (with a wedding ring) was NOT my little brother.