The Power of Family


Keeping with the spirit of November and Thanksgiving (which is only days away), I decided to show thanks for something else that is important to my life:  family. It’s something I’ve often taken for granted, but my life recently has taken some unexpected turns that has really shown the strength of my family’s bond.

One of the math teachers at my high school always said, “Tough times don’t last; tough people do.” I believe that, whole-heartedly. It tends to be the story of my life. I also feel that tough families can see it through any storm safety and effectively as long as they’re willing to rely on each other. Last week, I shared my #foodthanks and my appreciation of farmers. Now, I’m saying a big, whole-hearted thank you to my family. I don’t mean my biological family alone. I mean my extended, adopted, geographically-scattered family, as well.

Without family (both genetic and symbolic), we stand alone in a world that seems determined to have us fail. Life is hard. College is hard. Jobs are hard. Stress is everywhere. “Family” consists of the people who help ease that tension, even as they bring new tension into your life. Family keep us ticking.

My mother is not perfect, but she’s seen our family through hard times. She has been our fearless leader through many a crisis; financial scarcity, the death of my father, and cancer scares for both myself and my stepfather. I doubt she’ll ever read this, but I do want the world to know that I love her and am proud of her.

My siblings are all unique, outstanding individuals. One is a techy computer nerd. One is a mechanical genius. One is going to cure A.I.D.S. someday. I love them all, separate but equal, and the amazing individual relationships I have with each brings something special to my life that I’m sure I’d be lost without.

My stepfather has been the voice of reason and a source of advice since the first time I met him. He’s stuck with us despite our quirks and naturally turbulent family situation. He’s found a niche in our household, and I couldn’t think of a better person for my mother to grow old with, given the cards life dealt us.

My extended family? It’s broad, diverse, but strong and poignant. The diversity only makes it stronger. It broadens the pool of support. From my AgChat family, to my North Central College family, to my “back home” family…they have seen me safely through some of the most turbulent stages of my life. I’m blessed to have such an amazing support system at such a young age.

So, as Thanksgiving approaches, consider your “family.” Be thankful for them. Hang on tight. They may not be perfect. They may be a little wacky or dysfunctional…all of them are. But they’re yours. Love them for what they bring to your life. Appreciate them for the way they improve your individual human experience. And overall, thank God every day that these people are in your life. I know I’m thankful for my family, with or without a biological connection.

What sets your family apart? What brings you together? How do you make it through the rough patches? And what comes to mind first when you think “family?” Please share.

Thank you for being my family.

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