What is family? Who is our family? How do we define family members?

What I have seen very recently is that there are two ways of looking at things. Some people believe that the only people in the family are biologically related to you. Others see a mixture of both.

I see it as the second. I am a believer in that anybody can be family because of another belief I have: It’s something you earn.

From a biblical standpoint, Jesus even supports the idea that being biologically related is not the only way to have family. As He was dying, He tells one of His disciples to meet his mother; and it just so happened that this mother was Mary, the mother of Jesus. Jesus told His mother than this disciple was now her son.

With that in mind, I believe that people from all walks of life are eligible to be a brother, sister, father, whatever. You can grow with people outside of the bloodline and become as close as anybody.

Blood relatives have a head start: They are family from the beginning. They have that title. Here’s the thing: They can lose it.

Not everybody will agree with me on this, and that’s fine. But, guess what? I don’t care. Consider this example.

You are an employee in a company. As you work for a couple of years, people notice this and promote you. As you move up the ranks, different titles are given to you. However, with these new titles come new responsibilities.

With these new responsibilities, come the title. They go hand in hand. For you to assume the title but not take the responsibility means you’re fired. If you’re not doing the job, you cannot have the job. You cannot have the role.

That’s how I view family. I think if there was one difference between bio and others is that my bloodline may be given more grace and mercy from me. In the end, if you’re not doing your job, you’re out.

I have family members like this. I don’t call them “aunt” or “cousin” or whatever.

Now, some people say “that’s just the name of someone related to you” and that this person will ALWAYS be that name.

Oh?

Let’s say you are raised by your birth mother and stepdad. Your birth father couldn’t be bothered. Your stepdad stepped the f up and raised you like you were his own. This guy choose to be there for you. He assumed the responsibility of being a father.

The other guy may have donated the sperm, but your stepfather is your “dad”. He’s your daddy.

That’s my point. See, anybody can be anything. The bloodline gets first dibs, but nothing should prevent us from being able to add our own people to this group…or remove people already in it.

I consider myself a brother to my sisters because I ain’t a deadbeat brother. I do my job. It’s my job and I can lose it if I f up enough. If I abuse my sisters. If I celebrate their failures. If I decide to not protect them. I deserve to lose that status; or at the BEST be known as a bad brother.

How dare people abuse their family ties?

Some woman who gave birth to you treats you like crap right after you shoot out of her and then, 39 years later, demands tribute as your mother. Meanwhile, the lady downtown was the one who took care of you while your birth mother was trippin. Birth mom wants back in. Does that mean this adoptive woman gets booted?

No. Hey, I’m all for having two mothers. Whatever. But, seriously, if you think you can just come back like nothing happened, that’s a no-go.

Just like with any relationship, things take time. You’re going to have to earn your “mommy” title back; if you ever really had it at all. You’re going to have to be a mother to me for the first time and continue doing it.

You’re not going to respect someone who doesn’t care about you. Someone who purposefully decided you were not worth their time. No. I’m not going to drop what I’m doing for you.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to say there is nothing special about biological relatives. There is something special. I believe that. But, I also believe that love doesn’t care about that.

I can love anybody any way I want. I can feel a certain way towards anyone I want. Love is a choice, after all. I choose to devote my energy to people who are not my family.

I was watching this show a few months ago, and one of the characters ended up in the hospital. As she sat there, her friends came to visit. But nope, the doctor said “only family” were allowed inside. One of the women replied “but we’re the only family she has”.

That broke my heart. No it didn’t…c’mon now. But, it made me think about things. For instance, if my “adoptive” sister ended up in the hospital, and I wanted to check up on my sister like a good brother does, I would be sent away. I know for a fact that I am one of the closest people in her life, easily. Yet, I’m not good enough.

I say that should stop. I mean, you’re allowed to leave your possessions with anybody you want after you die. Why can’t there be a living will of sorts that lists “people of interest” or even simply “family” for insurance or something to record and then the hospital knows who has the right to be by your side?

The father who sexual abused his daughter (and is not in legal trouble because nobody is saying anything) is allowed in while the man who helped her recoup from the horrible experience and treated her right is not.

Family should be any and everyone. The special people in your life.

I go back to Jesus. As He was doing His thing, He received word that His mother and other family members wanted to talk to Him. Jesus dismissed it and said His disciples were his family.

Twice, Jesus seemed to make light of biological relationships. I mean, okay, He’s God so it’s probably not a big deal to Him. Still, I think it’s a way of saying that anybody can truly be your brother. Your mother.

My mom grew up living with two biological brothers and one half brother. As the years went one, in her late 20s, she met a woman and now (about 20 years later) she has her sister. I literally call her “auntie”. Pretty sure she was my unofficial godmother growing up.

Point is, I think family is a beautiful thing. It’s something you can make. You are given family from the start, but that’s not the end. Embrace the close people you have.

For me, I don’t give out family names to just anybody. Hey, maybe everybody is like a sister to you, but I give my love out differently. Becasue, in the end, not everybody can be your family.

And that’s exactly what makes it special.

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