This week I was reminded that the connecting of individuals by a family line doesn’t really make someone family, no…family is more than blood! Family is wanting the best for a person, family is being able to fuss in love with a person, family is being able to support from a distance even when you think someone is not making the best decision for his/her life, family is always being present, mentally and emotionally, if not physically, family is being there to offer a shoulder to cry on or an ear to talk to, family is praying for someone, family is reaching out to help a person, even picking them up from the ground if that’s what is needed, family is being nice and showing compassion…you see for me, family has little to do with blood, it has everything to do with love. Perhaps that’s the case because I haven’t always felt that my biological family has been my biggest support system…yes, there are those family members who are always in my corner and cheering me on, but I’ve also got family members who just don’t act like family. I’m sure we all have them, and we all react differently to those individuals, but for me…well, I spent a few years of my adult life sitting on the couch in a therapist’s office talking about my life issues without shame (I think everyone needs to do this at some point and time!), and that experience freed me of so many things…a huge one, the need to view all members of my biological family as family. This is problematic for some people…there are those individuals who feel like, “She’s family, so you have to keep an open mind about things involving her, and recognize that she’s family” or “He’s family so you can’t cut him off”. In my book, these are false statements…when people show their colors to me, I may give you a second or third chance, but that’s it, after I learn how you truly feel, I’m done with you. Our biological connection does not make you family!
This is a drastically different approach than most of my family. but I’ve increasingly felt over the years, that my friends and acquired family (despite not seeing them as often as I’d like) are often more supportive of me than my biological family. Many say this is my perception or its my fault because I don’t open up and share about my life with people…perhaps this is the case, but the question that looms for me is why am I more comfortable sharing with people who aren’t my own biological family. Whether we choose to admit it or not, there is always something the drives a behavior. One of the reasons why I may be more comfortable sharing with non-family members is that when I share a concern or an issue with friends, their first response isn’t to tell me I’m viewing a situation wrong or to encourage me to not judge too quickly, no, before anything else, they honor my thoughts and feelings! That’s not to say they always agree with my take on a situation, it doesn’t mean that they don’t tell me I’m viewing a situation wrong or judging too quickly, but in their initial response, they don’t disregard my feelings, blow me off, try to explain the other side, or attempt to justify a behavior. Instead they honor my feelings and my thoughts. That matters and it opens the door for a spirited dialogue about whatever the matter may be.
I feel like my family does a horrible job of honoring and appreciating people just the way they are, wherever they are…when it’s not their issue, everyone always feels a need to give guidance or opinions, everyone always feels a need to tell you what to do or how to feel. They aren’t bad people, it’s just what they do! Unfortunately, these responses do not necessarily reflect what’s needed in the moment. Sometimes, one simply needs a listening ear to sort out what’s running through the mind, and sometimes, one needs a response that simply says, “You’re correct in your feelings, but I think you need to think carefully about your response.” Other times, the person needs to feel you take a stand for them, they don’t just need you to say something to try to smooth things over, but they need you to act on it. Why…because that’s what family does…family takes a stand, family fights for you (they shouldn’t get criminal, but they don’t leave you hanging out there alone). Family doesn’t tear you down, no they build you up, even when you’re clearly falling apart. Family doesn’t kick you when you’re at you lowest place, family doesn’t justify mistreatment…they don’t talk about your demise behind your back, nope, they pray for you, they wish the best for you, they hope you rebound from the low places of life with greater strength than you had before, and they help you! Family is there for you…and that’s why family isn’t a blood thing, it’s a relationship thing…it’s a respect thing! If there’s no relationship and respect, there’s no family! My prayer is that my extended family will be about the business of honoring and appreciating thoughts and feelings, being respectful of each other and building relationships…that’s how we will be a strong unit for generations to come!
Until next time…