Family, Such a simple word, yet it carries a magnitude of meaning. What is family? Why is this role important? If you’re reading this, take a moment and set a 30-second timer. I want you to close your eyes, take a slow deep breath in for at least 3 counts, then exhale for 5 counts to relax your mind. Keep your eyes closed and consider this question:
Who is my family?
I want you to envision faces, not simply identify names.
Go on- give it a try.
“We greatly value the contributing role of families.”
Family is the basic unit of society. It’s a foundational cornerstone to the social environment and a keystone in the structure of one’s identity. The individual families make up the beating heart of one’s community.
The New York Times (NYT) reported, “stronger families, stronger societies,” which statement resounds with its truthfulness. In their article, NYT states, “family is the nucleus of civilization and the basic social unit of society.” We are created into families. From day 1 after conception, a being belongs with the unit they are created by. Family is their first identity, first loves, and first heartaches. But family isn’t always biological.
There are many types of families and I’d be here all day trying to list them out, so I’ll only name a few. We have foster families, adoptive families, chosen family (friends), church family, work family, sport/hobby families, and fur families (pets).
A couple weeks ago a tragic accident took my fur baby. I got him when he was a little over a year old and had him for years after. I love my Bandit and I miss him now he’s gone. It’s still a new feeling to come home and not hear him bark, to open the door and not have him race to my leg so I’ll stop and pet him, or to be sitting in the grass in my yard and he will come lay his head in my lap. He was my family.
For anyone who has lost a furry member of their family, you know the heartbreak often shouldered in silence. One thing I’ve learned is that the people of the world can be cruel. Feeling loss for someone (person or pet) you loved who has passed is sometimes shamed and ridiculed. But if we don’t allow ourselves to love enough to feel the pain of loss, are we truly living our lives fully?
Those who have lost a loved one, from any of your families, you know the emptiness left behind when they are gone. This feeling has taught me that people in our hearts are irreplaceable. Just as no two people are the same, we cannot ever love two people the same way. It will always be a unique bond impossible to replicate.
For someone like me who is single and hoping to build a family of their own someday, there’s a future family out there I already love because they are mine and I am theirs, even if I sometimes feel alone. It’s hard sometimes to value the role of family and motherhood so completely, to want a life as a wife and mother, yet wonder if that day will ever come, to worry that maybe it won’t. I want you to know it’s not a weakness to long for a family.
To the women who have felt the heartache of widowhood, felt the bitter blade of divorce, hid in fear after experiencing trauma, or feel trapped in the darkness of depression; it’s okay for you to feel sad sometimes that your life didn’t work out the way you envisioned.
Our Big Ocean Family can be a powerhouse of strength to those who feel they can’t go on. Our sisterhood can connect us with compassion and love so no one has to feel isolated and alone. And our unity forms a community because we each belong.
Family is where you are heard, you are valued, you are loved, and you belong. Your irreplaceable status as an individual uniquely and divinely created for the families you are a part of is unquestionably sure.
Do I acknowledge there are families who have problems? Do I acknowledge there are families where there’s more cruelty than love, more fighting than laughing, and more bad than good? Yes! Unfortunately, there is a law that there must be opposites in all things. Yet, we couldn’t know the good without seeing the bad.
But joy is in the little things. It’s in hearing a baby’s heartbeat. It is the child’s excited anticipation for their first day of school that they can’t stop talking about at dinner every day. It’s the celebration with loved ones at life’s accomplishments like getting your first job, learning a new skill, or graduation from an educational pathway. It’s in seeing the smile on a groom’s face as his bride walks up the aisle. It’s the hugs shared with those who grieve with you for life’s challenges and many heartaches. It’s love; that is family.
In considering love, The most cherished family I belong to is my theological family. I know we all come from many walks of life with different beliefs and experiences, so I hope not to offend anyone by sharing about the family with my deity I have faith I belong to, but my message wouldn’t be complete without speaking the words in my heart.
The God I worship calls mankind His children. He loves them and blesses them as His children. Yet as every good parent knows, agency is a very real concept. I’m sure every parent reading this immediately remembered a moment when their child told them no or stubbornly didn’t do as asked. I thought of my niece who makes it very clear by putting her hands on her hips and looking you dead in the eye with her chin tilted up when she is about ready to argue. I often think of myself giving that look to my Father in Heaven when I want things to go as I have planned instead of saying “Thy will be done…” I think of His patience and his understanding of my ignorance. I think of His unconditional love for me that He will never reject me for being less than perfect because He cares for me that much. I am so grateful He accepts me no matter what because of who I am- His Child. I believe there is no greater/better family to belong to than His.
Family is love.