Last night, I was out with my church family and other friends playing board games.
And it inspired me to share with you what I consider as my family.
I feel like most people, when you ask them about their family, they immediately go to blood relatives. Growing up, my dad, mom, brother and I lived most of my formative years in New Orleans, 6-8 hours away from any extended family. We saw them a couple times a year, but most of our life was surrounded by other people. What this taught me was that you can actually pick your family, or more precisely, you can add to it.
When Michael and I got married, we felt like it was very important to move away from our families of origin to develop our own family, our own traditions, our own selves. And in that we also developed our own network of extended relatives who are not related to us through blood. So, today, I wanted to share just a few of these networks with you.
Family from College – My two very best friends in college were Stessie and Aaron. We were there for each other in good times and bad. We formed our bond while we were learning how to become adults. And we are still connected to each other. Even though they live in different states, we speak to each other on a pretty regular basis, but especially when we are going through difficult times. We are encouragers of each other, and I’m so happy and blessed to still have them in my life.
Family on Mission – This is the village of people that share my passion for Christ and community. This is the group of people that we met when we arrived in Dallas at the first church we attended for seven years. But it’s also the new group of people that we are developing a relationship with now in a church plant. These are people who surround us with love and we respond with love in return. We are aunt and uncle to their kids. And we have a responsibility to them to be open, honest and accepting of all who enter into this relationship with us.
Family in Community – These are our neighbors. Now, I will be honest. I didn’t reach out to these people when we first moved here. But when I did, I found some very amazing relationships. I am so lucky that all of my neighbors are dog people. And we all share very similar values as well. We have supported and looked out for each other. We just recently had an HOA annual meeting, and there was nothing but love and support for everyone there (which I find isn’t quite as common in those kinds of meetings). It just makes me happy to know that I’m part of an actual village of people who have servant hearts.
Some of these people are closer to us than others. But that’s the way it is in blood families as well, right? And when the storms of life come, when stress or crisis enters into our world, we don’t batten down the hatches and turn away from these people, but allow them to walk with us, to help us carry our burdens. Because that’s what family does. And these people are not instead of blood relationships but included with blood relationships. It makes our village that much bigger and brighter and so much more blessed.