Families. Gotta love ‘em. From the itty bitty to the “you have how many kids?” I grew up in a rather large family. I’m the youngest of 5. Or, as I was often referred to as…..”the baby” What can I say? God saved the best for last! Cream of the crop right here y’all! (I hope you all caught the sarcasm dripping off those two exclamation points!) I can’t say we have a perfect family but, it’s good. We are very blessed. It’s true that while no family is perfect, if we’re being honest, some are a little less perfect than others. Some of you are probably saying, “She’s definitely talking about my family!” Each person who reads this could likely name a few dysfunctional moments or even a few dysfunctional people in their family. If not, you may be the dysfunctional one. I could post it as a contest and likely get a slew of entries. “Dysfunction Family Junk-tion: Tell Your Worst and Win”. Only, while trying to win justification and maybe even sympathy…..what they win is a lifetime of bitterness and loneliness, drudging up these hurts over and over. Therefore, in the Spirit of Christmas, I’d like to take a look at an aspect of family that often goes unspoken…..maybe because we’re unaware of it. Let’s look at the non-family, family.
Y’all know what I’m talking about. It’s the people you do life with, whether they are related to you or not. The ones you can talk with about real stuff, the deep down kind of stuff that makes up who we are. If you are fortunate as I have been, you have a close family that knows you well and puts up with all of your weirdness. For example, my sister Marsha promptly told me I shouldn’t name our daughter Carrie when I was pregnant, as it was the name of my imaginary friend as a child and that was too creepy. Much of the time, we can predict how one of our brood might react to something because we KNOW them. They say love grows best in little houses….well….so do the stories that get told year to year! So, coming from a large family, it was a nice feeling to come to the realization that people outside your immediate clan can become just as treasured to you as blood relatives. Not that they replace them by any means….just that they become like family to you, whether you are aware of it or not. I have learned a lot about that over the past 5 years. Frankly, I was given a crash course over the last year or so since our move from Tennessee to Southern California. You know what I’ve learned? Family struggles, strengths, and structures are the same all around the country.
What’s more….when we remain open, there is endless potential for “family” to come together. Besides parents, siblings, cousins, childhood friends, etc, there’s church family, work family, baseball family, soccer family, etc., etc. Many of you likely have a cousin that is like a brother or a sister. (Many of you likely also have a cousin that you’d rather not claim.) Then there’s those you love but rarely get to see. The point I’m making here is that just because you are family….it doesn’t mean you’re close. It doesn’t mean you know each other all that well…..or even like each other for that matter. This is where God ordains people to come along beside us and do life with us. Again, they don’t replace our family, they expand our family.
Now….take my word for it, It takes a while when moving to a completely different region with a different pace and culture. It’s taken us a while to feel “at home” here, but we do now. See, besides being close with my parents, siblings, and cousins, I was very close with my church family in Tennessee. Very modest church in a rural area with about 80-100 in attendance. Fast forward to our church outside of L.A. with multiple services just to accommodate everyone and talk about feeling like a face in the crowd. Sometimes you just want to go where everybody knows your name. And they’re always glad you came….sorry…couldn’t stop myself. (If you are part of my blogging family, you’ve probably come to expect for me to break out either in song or movie/tv quotes!:) ANYWAY – It took about a year but, it recently dawned on me one Sunday when I went into church that as I walked through, I spoke with no less than 5 people who were genuinely happy to see me, and I them. It felt familiar….what I had been missing….church family.
Same goes for baseball family. We had become really good friends with some families at the baseball park over the years in Tennessee. I didn’t know a soul when the boys started playing ball here and now some of those moms are good friends of mine that I am doing life with and really….we’re raising our families together. What can I say? God is good and I am very blessed.
I understand some of you may be thinking, “Good for you….but I have NO ONE….no family, no friends, I’m alone!” Well…I’ve got good news for you my friend. In Matthew 12:46-50, Jesus’ mother and brothers show up outside where he is teaching and someone tells him his mother and brothers are asking for him. Jesus shocks everyone when he looks at his disciples and says, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Talk about a new spin on family!
Do you know how that applies to you? It means you NEVER have to be without family. If you are a believer in Christ, then built into the fabric of the decision you made to follow Him is the privilege of never being alone. Never being without a family. Can I have a little tough love moment here? Here’s the catch …..you must get over life’s disappointments and you must get over YOURSELF!!!! Newsflash: The reason families aren’t perfect is because people aren’t perfect. That extends most definitely to your church family and beyond. You must get over what mama did or didn’t do…..you must get over the sibling who let you down……you must get over the poor, pitiful me….”life dealt me a bad hand” motto. Because, if you don’t…..you won’t be able to truly open yourself up to the blessings God has for those who do the will of His Father. They are too many to count, my friend and I guarantee you He does not intend for you to walk alone in this world. Please note 2 things I believe are key to doing the will of the Father and combating isolation and loneliness:
A. His Father does not keep record of wrong for those who have accepted and committed their lives to His Son. Therefore, we shouldn’t carry that baggage around either. Forgive.
B. His Father knows about love and sacrifice and for our own good, requires us to think of others more than ourselves. We wouldn’t have time to feel so sorry for ourselves if we didn’t spend so much time considering ourselves. Are you feelin’ me here? Give. Give of your time, your resources, etc. Serve the family of God and the community He’s placed you in at this time. It comes back 100 fold in ways you can’t imagine.
If that is you, may this Christmas bring about a change in your heart and life and may you find joy and peace in doing the will of the Father and reaping the benefits that come naturally with that.
As for me….I will miss seeing my newfound friends and fam as we travel back to Tennessee over Christmas…BUT I can’t WAIT to be back with my chaotic, crazy, loving, original, perfectly imperfect family.
With much love I wish each and every one of you who reads this a very Merry Christmas and a year full of His Best!!
Instead of a traditional Christmas verse….I have no choice but to leave you with this….as it is stuck in my head and will likely be there throughout all of Christmas break now! You’re welcome.
“We are family….I got all my sisters with me…..We are family……Get up everybody and sing.”