Like “love”, this word “family” gets tossed around casually to mean many things. In the same way that I can love both mashed potatoes and a person, family can be both “that thing I’m born into that I’m stuck with” and “a beautiful mess of like-minded people who are committed to each other.”
Today, I am struck by the latter definition of family.
Nayt and I have been playing host to my sister, brother-in-law and their 4 girls this week. Our little house has never been fuller: full of squeals and giggles, blanket games, crayons, tiny Borrower dolls climbing the banisters, pancakes, hugs, little girl clothes, questions, (SO. MANY. QUESTIONS), movies, bubbles, life. They are being them, and right now, to be “family” means to let them be them.
How does Sara Groves put it? “Loving a person just the way they are, that’s no small thing, that’s the whole thing.”
And my sister offered me something beautiful, the chance to share space and life. Not only to witness their lives, but to let their family witness ours. So, at her insistence that they “step into our world”, we packed up the family and headed together to our house church last night.
One definition of family met another. And it was a beautiful thing.
I’m sure there’s a more sophisticated word for the phenomenon that occurs when like-minded people discover they are like-minded. But to me, the easiest way to define it: home. When you step into a moment in time where you realize you and someone else share deep commonality, it is a moment of freedom to be yourself…with a witness. That is home.
And I witnessed my brother-in-law, sister and nieces get to be themselves in deep ways with the family that is my house church. And that was a beautiful thing. I witnessed my house church family listen and recognize shared commonality and out of a deep well of love for Jesus, bless this family that they had previously only heard about. That was also a beautiful thing. To witness the word family change and take on more members and meaning was a beautiful thing.
Because home is not a building. And family means many things.
This morning, I feel like Mary treasuring things in her heart after the birth of Jesus. I have witnessed connection and beauty and love in ways that I want to remember forever. I am so grateful for family that chooses to be family, that chooses to see and respond, to let each other work themselves out. Family is choosing to be knit together. Family says “yes, I see who you are and where you’re going and I’m along for the ride”…that’s the kind of family I want to be in. That’s the kind of person I want to be. And with the help of the Holy Spirit, that’s the kind of family we are called into.
It’s a beautiful thing.