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but you can always add to the bunch

being as old as i am, i’ve had the privilege of knowing a few people, and more than a few families.

i’ve witnessed a range of family dynamics running the gamut from fierce over-protection to smothering love to healthy, detached – to outright addiction, dysfunction and abuse.

it’s one of the cruel truths of life. you can’t pick who you were born to – whatever that may look like – for better or for worse.

for those who grew up surrounded by a family they see as purely nutty
who lived with unreal expectations,
unbearable living conditions,
or just felt like they somehow never fit –
it can be painful to witness the depths of love that other families show each other.

the majority of those i’ve known and loved have family treebranches that extend way into the dark neck of the woods. some of my dearest girlfriends long for a sister – or a mother they can connect with – or a father who would never let them down. i’ve known a son to be disowned by his father, and know of married friends that have had knock down drag out fights with in-laws. sometimes it’s death that leaves a family broken, and a child longing for a parent, caregiver or sibling.

i was blessed to be born into a freakishly tight genepool.  we verge on tenacious and overprotective, but are mostly just loud, silly, sappy sweet, with a touch of annoyingly devoted. we spend as much time together as life allows: birthdays, holidays and special occasions. we love each other enough to make up for all the times that we get on each others nerves and need a break away.

however, as much as i treasure and am grateful for the blessing of my god-given family, it is my handpicked family that brings my some of my sweetest delight in the form of friendship, acceptance and fun.

your handpicked family is just that – yours to choose. they exist in addition to your birth family. you treat them as you would a blood family – with tenderness and trust. you each value the relationship and work to stay in touch and keep it strong. 

my hand-picked family looks like this: my husband; a couple of best girl friends; a handful of strong female mentors (my personal board of directors), a family from Lebanon who i met over the internet (i consider her a soul-sister – God brought us together – and her husband and sons are precious); the jazz group (four righteous dudes and three foxy dames) i’ve sung with for eight years – my time with them has given me a great deal of joy – love and laughter.

your birth family may or may not be exactly what you think you need to live a full and happy life. they may challenge your happiness, make you scratch your head or run screaming in the other direction.

your hand-picked family just might be your saving grace.