Sunday, February 20, 2011

We Are Family

A lot of people I know are of the opinion that one's family is the genetic unit into which one is born.  I hear married women talk about going to see their "family."  My first reaction inside is usually, "So what are your husband and kids?  chopped liver?"

Those of us adults who have come from dysfunctional homes have a great deal of baggage when it comes to the term, "Family."  It isn't a happy word.  It's a word filled with images of broken promises, betrayed trust, divided loyalties, empty days and still emptier nights.  

So in the last few years, I have come to redefine the word "family."  Family for me is a state of mind.  It has very little to do with one's DNA.  It has everything to do with heart, where one feels safe, where one feels loved.  

There are people I am related to by birth or by marriage, with whom I do not feel safe.  I feel like I always have to be on my guard - on the defensive - at red alert.  That's not a good atmosphere to grow up in, and it's not a good atmosphere to willingly enter.  

The man I married - he's my family.  My children too.  These are the people with whom I feel "at home."  But it doesn't end there.  There are people in my life who love me, who respect me and who value my opinions, whom I love, respect, and whose opinions I value, who are not necessarily related to me by blood or marriage.  These are the ones that I consider "family." 

And some that I'm told are "supposed to" be family, I can't consider so.  Some church members - bless them - are more about being right or about finding fault than about being accepting or loving.  It's draining for me to be with them.  

Some related to me by marriage - well, I'm sorry - but if I do not feel one shred of respect coming from them, they're not my family.  It doesn't mean I hate them; it just means that I prefer not to spend time with them when there are so many others in my life that I like being with.  Some of the new friends that I've been making - friends who accept me for who I am and who don't judge me for where I'm coming from - are my family - my "circle of friends" (the name of the photo to the left, below ...) who love and support me and for whom I do the same.  We don't try to change each other, we don't try to run each others' lives - and we enjoy being in each others' company.  

I have these kinds of "family" members spread out all over the place, people who are not related to me genetically or legally, but with whom I have a connection that is pretty amazing.  I suppose technically that they could be called "friends."  They're that too.  We love each other - but we also LIKE each other; this is a good thing.  

Some live in the United States.  Others in Dorchester NB and various spots across Canada.  Some live in the city I live in - but I didn't meet them until 3 months ago and yet I feel as though I have known them, loved them all my life.  Others I've only known a couple of years. Still others, perhaps 10 or 20 years.  Some I have met and know through music ministry.  Some at work.  Others, in several other ways.  One I even met when I was 17 and in my first summer job.   

We all have two things in common: love and respect.  Those things can't be bought or manufactured.  They are gifts - nurtured and developed by those to whom they are given, exercised and practiced and never once taken for granted.

To these my family members - I give my most profound thanks! 

No comments:

Post a Comment