When Mom passed away a little over a year ago, the concern was that we, three sisters who’ve been close for so long, would no longer make it a priority to be together. Mom’s place was the gathering spot, the place we’d converge to visit her in the waning years of her life to be together.
Our brother, on the west coast, would come when he could. The family has always meant something meaningful. A value deeply ingrained in us by our parents.
Getting together now is more work. I don’t feel as free to go; there was nothing as pressing as a final goodbye to Mom.
Growing up, the four of us kids weren’t exactly close. We had enforced family times: Sunday afternoon poker games, visits to the zoo, the county fair. Much of the time we’d moan and groan about “She’s touching me!” or “He’s breathing on me!” As we grew up we had more on our minds than being kind to one another.
Dad would frequently remind us that blood was thicker than water. Friends may come and go but family is forever. That caused quite a bit of eye rolling.
Learning the value of family came at a cost. Spending time together meant we had to say no to other things. Being with friends. Hiding in our rooms and reading a book. Watching TV. Activities that, at the time, were more desirable than one more family outing.
That changed as we grew up and started leaving home. My sisters were the ones who knew me. Who understood my quirks as well as their own. I could tell them things and they’d listen. Maybe not condone what I was doing, but they’d not condemn me either.
I made the time to be with them over our spring break. The three of us converged on my little sister’s home in Egg Harbor, Wisconsin. Her home overlooks Green Bay, away from my “musts” and “shoulds”.
We talk. We ask each other the hard questions, ones that don’t always come up in social conversation. Pat answers are dismissed; authenticity is valued. We’ve been holding each other accountable for various things we’re seeking to change in our lives, and that interaction alone feels like a lightening of a burden.
These women are a gift to me.
We all want to be known and valued by those around us. Not all families are as fortunate as mine; misunderstandings may divide, jealousy may undermine, pride may shut out those who are related by blood.
God has declared His followers to be His family. Delighted in by Him, sharing a heritage and future with Him and one another, sojourners together in this alien land that isn’t really home, we are united in His love.
I’ve got sisters and a brother who love me well. I also have those who follow Jesus who are also family in the eternal sense of the word.
We all need family. A community of people who love us no matter what.
We can have that whether we’ve been born into it or not. Knowing Jesus creates those bonds.
A different kind of forever blood relationship.