Brother. Mother. Uncle.

We have titles for certain people in our lives; mainly relatives. These are labels to identify. Yet, I do also think these titles have to be earned, based on the definition of such titles.

Overall, family is a group of people that you have a permanent alliance with. Loyalty, trust, encouragement, love, and more is what you naturally expect from family members.

It isn’t like that all of the time though, is it?

Sometimes we make mistakes. We hurt each other. We forgive. However…however…

You are 18 years old. You are about to embark on a new chapter of life: College. Your mom and stepdad have been with you every step of the way. Your stepdad came and raised you as your own after your father decided he had better things to do than raise you.

But then, father shows up. He wants to be part of your life and expects the same respect…relationship…as with any other child parent.

Now what?

Here’s the thing; To me, you forfeit your title of father…no, dad. Wait a minute…

“Father” and “Dad” are generally the same word. Yet, we tend to say “Dad” or “Daddy” or even “Pops” as titles of endearment. Meanwhile, “Father” in its most basic definition is someone who was involved in your creation.

“Father” and “Dad” are two different things, then. If you return to the previous scenario, you can only have one father. But, you can have many dads. I believe that. I also believe anybody can be a dad. Dad is something someone can become. Earn. Work for.

Let me use a personal example. I have five sisters; but only two of them are biological. How can this be? I have other forms like god siblings and adoptive. In fact, I recently reconnected with one of these sisters of mine. She’s a very good family friend that essentially grew up with my biological sisters.

She doesn’t know this story, but I remember. My mom told me one day that I had to watch out for not just my bio sisters, but this new girl that showed up. I was to treat her like my sisters. So, that’s what I did.

But, is that what makes a sister or brother?

No, it takes relationship. You have to work on yourselves in order to approach that siblinghood.

Get this: This applies to my bio sisters too. They are my sisters by birth, but we can simply not care for each other. I’ve seen such families where a bio sibling is nothing more than a regular person because there is no relationship.

We look at family as the best thing we can have. The peak of relationships. This is why we say “She’s like a sister to me” or “I’ll treat that child like one of my own”. We generally say these things to ensure there is value. We love hearing it too.

When I say my sisters are my best friends, I mean that as well. But, like with any friendship, there is work involved.

Something that I earned can be lost.

There can be a certain line crossed that damages a relationship. Sometimes, it can be beyond repair. To me, you can essentially forfeit your title You are no longer my aunt. Sure, you are my dad’s sister, but this does not give you an automatic right to my life because you f’d up.

Remember that sister I mentioned earlier? I always have looked at her as a sister and the love I have for her is just a strong as for my bio sisters. I’m crazy about her. Since she comes from another family, she lived a life of her own, as I did. Since we have a bit of an age gap between, we didn’t do much of the same things.

As we got older, I made a mistake. We got our hands on cellphones (not smartphones; actual cellphones!). I had the opportunity to grab her number and stay in touch. I didn’t. I still played a big brother role to her when I could, but I didn’t do much to establish a relationship that I had with my bio sisters.

Relationships require both sides to make an effort. So, yeah.

But, for my end, I saw that I wasn’t being the brother I wanted to be. The standard I have was not being  met.

One day, she was talking to a friend of hers, and she mentioned my presence and referred to me as her brother. That made me feel uncomfortable because I felt like that’s not what I earned.

I felt like I had no right to be her brother or at least be known as one. I told her I felt that way and now that is what I have written here. My next post will contain my official standard for big brothers.

I think we toss titles around too much. I also think we abuse titles as well. Take them for granted.

Jesus did something that really helps my line of thinking. Matthew 12 46-50. Here, He talks about how his biological mother and brothers are, I all actuality, His disciples. Why? Basically, they earned that right by following Jesus.

Jesus did it again at the cross. He introduced one of His disciples as a new son for His bio mom.

Jesus doesn’t get caught up in titles just because. He sees these things as something that can go beyond blood. I think we can as well.

We can choose who we let in our lives and we have every right to give appropriate titles to people. We also have the chance to lose such statuses and this actually helps us ensure we don’t abuse or take relationships for granted.

My love for each of sisters is very real and I must do my part to make sure I keep my best friends for life close. I not only must talk the talk, but I must also show and do things that back up the talk. If we look at titles like that, we can be more productive.