Some of us marry into family and that becomes ours as well ... by law and by someone's choice. Dad and Mom in laws, sister and brother in laws, uncle and aunts, grandparents, the daughters and sons in laws .... all these are ours! Sometimes this group is very small and sometimes it becomes really, really big! And also, with this comes responsibility - to keep love and concern flowing, celebrations of life and death. Sometimes those in laws are ours because of someone else marrying but they matter, This is all ours.
I have chosen a family along the way - when I became a Christian and was added to the Body of Christ on February 16, 1969, God made me a part of a universal spiritual family that knows no boundaries of location, culture, color, gender, or time ... yes, I am able to count generations of long-gone folks as my brothers and sisters. Pretty amazing!!I believe a lot of joy and responsibility comes with this choice.
Friendship leads to family-like ties sometimes too - when you feel so close to someone who has no other tie than that of friendship but the hearts just mesh in a unity that is really cool. A favorite little poem of mine is:
Some friends are summer friends, fragile as flowers they are delightful in life's milder hours. I love the winter friends; wind tossed they bow but do not break nor lose their luster in the snow and ice. (unknown)
And of course this verse is so true!!
Friends come and friends go,
but a true friend sticks by you like family. Proverbs 18:24 (MSG)
So, anyway, I am so very thankful for all the people in my life who make up family - they have been and will continue to be part of who I am. For sure, I have been affected negatively by family members - that unspoken affirmation, the longed-for presence that never appeared, those sought for words that were never given. But, for the most part I live for and have always dwelt in the positive. Hugs, joy, laughter, singing, amazing fellowship, support when I couldn't go it alone, the knowing that I have been surrounded by prayer warriors my entire life!! All of this ... molding and defining who I am.
My own prayer is that I will be a positive influence on these people - that my impact will always bring light to places that could be dark otherwise. I know I have messed up various times. But, I pray I will never underestimate the power of my word, my encouragement, my positive reaction to their good news, my sorrow lovingly expressed in imminent, unavoidable losses. And, just that my love and influence will always be a beacon shining the way to heaven's gates as I follow day by day in His steps.