Linking up, once again, with Blessed Is She and the weekly #BISsisterhood posts. This week's theme: family.
Family, it seems, is an ever-changing concept in my world as of late. While it is always changing, it is also growing. In an obvious way, it grew when I got married. Before I had no one I could call "sister" in that sense, and now I have two. I've got cousins and family in farther reaches of the world than I ever did before. New relatives to meet, know, love, and hopefully someday visit (that'd be you, Lebanon!). My family grew to include my husband's family, but my family also shrank, in a way.
Before I got married, my family - in the strictest sense of the word - consisted of my mother, my father and my brother. Sure, there was the extended family, but when a person asked how my family was doing, I always answered about my parents and/or my brother. There are days I still answer that way because they were (and are) my family long before my sweet husband, Anthony, came along.
And then there is Anthony. My family - again, in the strictest sense of the word - is, at least today, Anthony and I. We are a family, whether little Monkey is born yet or not. He and I are family, small but glorious. I spend more time with him than anyone else, though that isn't what defines family.
But then again, our family is growing, too. Monkey is on her way, ready to come nearly any day (I 'officially' hit full term this coming Tuesday). Our little family is growing from two to three. The extended family grows, but our little unit grows too. It grows in number, but it also grows in love. It is that love, more than all else, that most defines family, at least for me.
Family isn't who I spend the most time with. Indeed, there are family members (by blood or by marriage) that I spend very little time with, and yet they are just as much family as those that I see every day or week. Family is the source of love, the people it gets most readily poured out on. Family are those who, even when hurting, even when they've hurt me, are still loved, still cherished, still appreciated. In that sense, family isn't even necessarily defined by blood or by marriage, but by the heart. Of course the default is those I am related to by blood or marriage, but family is also those people who are like family, even if not directly related to me. Family are the people we call in the middle of the night, the friends we turn to, the people who encourage us, who pick us up when we are down. Family are the people who challenge us to be more than we are - whether we share the same faith or not.
Family is near and wide, seen and unseen, but always loved.