02 August 2013

Long Distance Family

Family. It's something you might not quite appreciate fully until you don't have it any more. The life I've lived has often led me to be apart from my family.
What I've learned so far is that, while oftentimes, your first family is related to you by blood, you might just be blessed enough to come across some others who will be your family when your blood relatives can't be with you.
My family first experienced that when we moved far, far away from my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. We moved to the other side of the world knowing no one--but we were taken in by people who had no blood relation to us, but nevertheless chose to adopt us and love us as if we were family. I've got aunts and uncles and siblings in Malaysia--and I know that those non-blood family ties are so strong that no matter what, I'll always be loved over there, because they've chosen to be my family.

When I moved back to the US for college, I had grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins who stepped into my life and took good care of me, but I also found out that I wasn't alone in being away from parents and siblings. One of mine and Angel's best friends from my freshman year of college was from Africa. When Angel found out that our friend's parents weren't coming to America for his college graduation, Angel told his own parents to take our friend under their wings and celebrate his college graduation with him with just as much pride as they celebrated Angel's graduation on the same day, and they did. Two years later, another dear friend of ours graduated from college while none of his own family were able to be there, and Angel and I, together with our Bible study group, rallied together and met him at the graduation, took pictures, and took him out to a celebratory dinner afterwards. We did our best to be his family when his family couldn't be there for him.

My parents and siblings weren't at my wedding, but so many people who loved me were, and that made their absence a little less scary. My parents couldn't come to my college graduation either, but I still felt loved by the people who were there with me. Sometimes--I feel a prick of sadness when I hear my young married friends talking about how awesome it is to drop their kids off at their parents' house whenever they want a date night or a weekend away with their husband--or when they talk about traditions like getting together with their sisters every month for a girls' night--or even going to their parents' every Sunday afternoon after church for a Sunday dinner. I feel that prick of sadness because I'm pretty darn sure that'll never look like my life. If all of my siblings and parents actually manage to get together in the same spot sometime within the next five years, I'll be shocked. The lifestyles we've all chosen just aren't the kind where we get to all live in the same town and see each other regularly for the rest of our lives.

But that thought doesn't depress me. I love my parents and my siblings fiercely, don't get me wrong. But throughout my life, God has always provided a "family" when I needed one--whether they were related to me or not, and I'm convinced that He'll always be faithful in that way. It sure takes an awesome God to make a family out of a rag tag bunch of people from all sorts of different cultures and backgrounds--but hey, our God is just awesome like that.
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