Capturing life in words…
As many have noticed here in the good ol’ USA, the definition of “family” is changing and evolving. During the times of “Leave It to Beaver”, the word “family” conjured up the standard two parent home (of which both parents were white, and middle class) and, of course, 2.5 children (I always visualize half a person when I see/hear the “point five” in this statistic). Well, as you can see, in essentially one generation the vision of family has exploded. Now it’s not scandalous for me, as a divorced woman, to
not only re-marry but to remarry a man half Asian. I know just as the definition of family has exploded, so have the opinions of conservatives. However, this post is not about who thinks it is right and who thinks it’s wrong. This post is about what diversity of “family”, and the positive gifts I see in the flexibility of the family definition in our current society.
By definition, I have lost almost all my biological family members to death, which wasn’t hard because my family is small. (Mom was an only child and Dad’s family was across the country, so we weren’t very close to them, and my only sibling- a sister, died.). However, I have a large family built upon love. This is important, as we all have inherent needs to have a “mother figure”, for one example, in our life. Other significant roles include, a “brother” or a trustworthy “sister”. Ideally the sibling role is best met by someone you could never be sexually attracted to, sexual tension demolishes any potential of the person being your “sister/brother”. I know a lot of people who have said, “Oh it wouldn’t be like THAT,” when trying to have a friendship with someone and it basically is emotional adultery skirmishing the edge of a sexual affair. Life is complicated and hard enough. Don’t go there.If you think about what a traditional sister or brother to you would provide, you can see the need to not make it messy with sexual tension.
There is a woman, Cheryl, who doesn’t even live in my state and I haven’t laid eyes on face-to-face in decades. However, anytime I need to vent, get feedback on my thoughts or a decision I am wavering on — I go to Cheryl. She is intelligent, has the same basic faith system, motivated and compassionate. As my sister, she holds me accountable to my morals. She doesn’t say what I want to hear, but says what I need to hear. She is able to go in areas other friends don’t or won’t — and address tender spots with gentle strength. As a sister, she is given liberty to the inner side of me, even the parts of me I shield from my fiance’. Our relationship has balance of give and take– a reciprocity where neither of us feel one is sucking the life out of the other. That is so important– the equality. Neither carrying the other the whole time. It’s a back and forth, give and take. A rhythm of women living. A soul sister comes maybe once or, if you are lucky, twice a lifetime.
The way you meet family of choice is not important, it’s just having a connection with someone you trust and look to when you need to have unconditional love and acceptance — nurturing in the journey. For me, I call a woman named Sheela when I need to feel seen and heard. She, ironically, was my mother’s best friend. She came to my aide as Mom’s life was drawing to a close. She doesn’t know how her love and tears with me during the funeral and beyond have given me courage. She validates my feelings, as my mother would when I am frustrated by my father’s mental illness and drinking. Sheela, in just being herself, has filled a void and this has allowed me to move forward more easily in life. She’s empowers me by pointing out my strengths when I feel defeated.
We all need to take the risk of reaching out, and letting another love us. When life delivers an unexpected kick to the solar plexus, and we’re keeling over in pain, the natural reaction often to withdraw and protect one’s self from further harm. It is healthy to withdraw from people who repeatedly hurt us. Yet, it also is just as critical to reach out to those who care about your emotional welfare and have our emotional tank (love tank is what I call it personally) filled back up.
By design, we crave love and acceptance. Sometimes the family of origin is not an option (due to death, toxic relationships etc) and remaining open and aware to the people God brings in your life can make all the difference.
I pray I am used to fill the love tank of others up… even if I only meet them once, may it be a positive experience in their journey.