The Bonds of Family

I come from a small family.  Really small.  Spread out, too.  If you counted all of us (grandparents, aunts, uncles included) during my early days, we would have been 13.  If you counted us now and only included the parts of the family I’ve ever met or will ever likely see in the future, we’re down to 4.  My grandmother, my parents, and me.  I’ve never met my cousins.  No siblings.  No holiday gatherings.  You get the idea.  I was always strongly impacted with this feeling that I was the end of the line.

The idea of a big family has always intrigued me.  I feel a sort of awe when I read about large families with deep, loving ties.  These families also usually have meaningful, abiding traditions.  It’s a little bit like a fairy tale castle to me – it’s beautiful and I’ll never get to live there.  I can’t make that family what it isn’t.

I believe in a God that resonates with the desires of my heart.  He created me and knows me, and I’m never disappointed when I see how He is caring for me.  So, when I think about this family that I so desire, I see Him fulfilling that desire in ways I never really expected.  In a most usual way, I see it in the family my husband and I have built.  We are already 4 within ourselves, 8 if you include the next layer of relatives.  I have a love and friendship with my husband that amazes me.  I see my daughters begin to play together in a sibling way that I craved as an only child, and it fills that space in my heart that occasionally feels lonely for that kind of sibling companionship. 

However, what has most surprised me is how my definition of family has changed.  As I look at our circle of friends, I see people that have become family to me.  They are my brothers and sisters.  We are walking this life together, year after year, and there is more love in that bond than I could have imagined.  I realize how blessed we are when I see how my children begin their life with a realization that they are loved and surrounded by a family far larger than we could have brought together out of our own blood ties.  I am touched by the experiences that this “family” shares together – whether it’s birthday celebrations or annual cookouts or movie nights.  Quite recently, I had the opportunity to experience being served communion by part of this family, and I was profoundly moved by that shared bond.  I see this family continuing to expand and increase.  I love it.  Turns out I get the castle after all.

I hope you have that experience, too.  And if you don’t yet, don’t give up hope.  There’s enough family for everyone if you don’t let pesky definitions get in your way.

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