My Mom was here for a short 48 hour trip this past weekend. We did what you should do for a girl’s weekend – ate out, shopped a lot, slept in, drank wine, laughed, and cried. We listened to Jessie J and Meghan Trainor on the way to the airport, hoping it would postpone the crying for just a little bit longer.
When I say goodbye to my family, it stirs something in me. It causes me to question every life choice I’ve ever made, if I’m honest. I’ve spent the last seven years living more than 1,000 miles away from my family. That is close to one third of my life. Is God really calling me to be that far from my family? Could He possibly want something that hard for me?
I’m so grateful for my family – for our journey, our story, the ways God is working and blessing and challenging us. The hardships and the JOYS. I’m thankful that I have a family that I miss, who my heart hurts for. Not everyone has that. It is a blessing to miss people, ya know?
Recently my church has been doing a series called “Family.” It is a series meant to remind us of the core values of our church, and that we “don’t do membership, we do family.” As I have listened to the sermons, I’ve thought that’s nice. But when I drove away from the Denver airport after a teary goodbye with my Mom, I realized the weight of that word.
It’s probably one of the best and hardest things of this life. Sometimes people have the best family ever, and sometimes people don’t. Sometimes people have horrible parents or siblings. I have friends who are best friends with their mom, and some who will never speak to their mom again.
It is more than blood. It is more than DNA. Family is the people in your life who love you for who you are, what you’ve been through, and where you’re going. They love you beyond your flaws, in spite of your mistakes, and through your circumstances. Family is who you call, day or night, when you need a laugh or a cry.
Family walks through the heartache together. Family loves you strong. You know in a soccer game when the other team has a penalty kick, and the team lines up side by side to block it? That’s my picture of family. When the tough is coming, they come in close. They face it head on, hand in hand, running toward the mess rather than away from it.
I believe so strongly that we can see the clearest picture of how God wanted life to be for us in the first chapters of Genesis. So He created the world, the sun and moon, the animals, the ocean, and everything else. Then He created Adam. And then He created Eve. Because it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone. (Quick tangent: a man on his own? Humankind was doomed. I don’t believe that God ever intended for Adam to be the only one.) He needed family. He needed community. God created Eve because they needed each other. God created us because He wanted a family. There is no mistake that we are designed this way. He could have created us to just be born and then live our lives unemotionally attached to each other. But He created us to love, to be known, and to live intentionally with one another. This is family.
It’s November (yay!) – the month of gratitude and the first month of the holiday season. We are heading into days and weeks of people spending time with their families. Sometimes we get grouchy about this. Seven days with the monster-in-law? So here’s the challenge – be thankful. Take advantage of every moment with your family, whoever that might be. Don’t take for granted who God has given you. Whether that is your DNA family or the people who have become your family – be grateful.
Hug your Dad, dance with your Mom, laugh with your siblings. Share a meal with your friends; share your heart with someone close to you. We are not meant to live this life alone – find your tribe and gather them close. Welcome someone into your family. Light a fire and share a story. Remember that we are all invited to be a part of God’s family, so let’s invite others to be a part of ours.