Family By Choice

Family smiles
Smiles belied our family life

My birth family wasn’t happy. Far from it. We lived in “the projects” until Mom stopped having babies and my oldest siblings moved out. Then, we were evicted. Evicted. From the projects. Because we didn’t have enough kids to meet their criteria.

Dad was unhappy with the way his life turned out and decided to spread his anger over our hides and cheeks. He was careful to only inflict injuries where they’d be covered by clothes. And he made us plaster on smiles for the rest of the world.

To my childish mind, a family was a group of people who had to live together but just tolerated each other and were downright nasty at times. Not a lot of love and very little growing up. Oh, we got taller and grew physically, but most of my family continued to act like children.

Then I married into a real family. Everyone loved each other and no one was afraid of their father. They looked forward to sitting down to dinner as a family and laughed through every meal. I finally learned what a family should look like.

But not every family has a mother and a father and offspring. In fact, some families aren’t related at all.

My children are grown and have homes of their own, so even though they’re still family, we don’t see each other much. And since my husband died, I live by myself. But that doesn’t mean that I’m alone.

My “sisters” today



Each week, I get together with “sisters” at my church. We laugh, talk, cry, study the Bible, and go to lunch almost every Sunday. And my Tuesday-afternoon writers’ group is made up of “brothers and sisters” who have lunch together, care for each other, open their hearts through their writing, and share their lives. When we have an emergency, we can count on these family members to come to our aid.

That’s what family is all about – people loving each other, spending time together, and meeting someone else’s needs.

Family is very important in the Bible, even to the point of combining singles into a household. 1 Chronicles 23 describes a creative family: “These were the sons of Shimei—four in all. Jahath was the first and Ziza the second, but Jeush and Beriah did not have many sons; so they were counted as one family with one assignment.” They combined to create their own family.

I’ve struggled through lists of biblical “begats” with genealogy to follow someone’s lineage. And some historical folks believed that continuing a family line was so important that they sinned to make it possible, thinking God would bend the rules for them.

No matter how a family is constructed – by birth, through adoption, by accident, on purpose, or just by spending time together – having a family allows you to belong. So you don’t need to be alone and someone always has your back.

Let’s take time today to be thankful for our families. And ask God to show us who may need a place to belong. Maybe your family could expand a little.