Family. We define it by blood. We define it by heritage. We sometimes define it by who teaches us to walk, to talk, to drive or to go further than we dare to dream. However you define it, I feel that “family” has proven to be far too broad a term and far too hard to be defined in it’s literal sense. One thing I have come to believe and know, is those who embed themselves deep in our hearts are both those who’s bloodline we share and those whom we meet along life’s complex journey. If our hearts stay open, willing and able to embrace, we have a good chance of having a bigger family than birth rights and blood relations could ever allow.
Most recently, we were uprooted and relocated to the South from the Midwest, but we have been very blessed to come across and connect with some amazing people. Though I am far from home, thankfully, the family of God is globally planted. Being part of this particular family enables and assures we are never alone and roots can go deep in soil far beyond our own backyard. Though knowing Father God assures we’re never alone just by having a personal relationship with him, having Brothers and Sisters of like faith make this planet and ventures out and about it, one big family reunion. It has been one of my greatest joys in life to meet and know so many fascinating people all over the world.
I have shared meals, thoughts, love, laughter and times in worship services with Liberians in West Africa, Australians in Sydney, Greeks on the Island of Spetses, Italians in Rome, Hoosiers in the Heartland, Chicagoans in the Windy City, Phoenicians in the Southwest, Islanders on Hilton Head … and the list goes on. Of all these people, places and things, one thing continues to astound me. Everywhere and anywhere I go I can find people who love people and people who love God. When visiting or relocating to another new area, I’m always overjoyed to continually see hundreds of thousands of people coming together again and again, week after week, lifting their hearts to God, thanking Jesus their Savior and embracing one another, whether they’ve ever met before or not. It really is a big beautiful picture of heaven when all demographics in all kinds of places come together as one in sweet fellowship and true unity. In a world broken, violent and depraved, it is so refreshing to see that pure faith, hope and love still exists. It more than exists, it is alive and well.
From one who has been homesick after being recently relocated, it’s good to know the kindness of strangers can make a foreign land feel like a second home soon enough. Wandering with purpose, taking the time to stop and inquire or engage with others can prove rewarding on many levels. For me, it has opened the door to not only fascinating conversations but has led to far more contacts being added into my smart phone and into a smart heart. While wisdom and discernment must accompany our steps, praying for the Lord to order our steps each and every morning can produce amazing results.
Nothing and no one can take the place of my family by blood, my Spiritual Mama of the past 20 years, nor my covenant connections back home in the Midwest and Chicagoland who’ve been there for me through it all. However, simply gaining more family by marrying someone we love or choosing to wander with purpose and reaching out to those who’s paths we cross with an open heart, can bring about new members to an already big, beautiful family. Strangers can become acquaintances or they can become friends. Friends can become covenant connections, if hearts, words and actions will allow God to do what He does best. Redeem. He can redeem the time, a soul or a relationship. Whether it’s a relationship in need of healing or one in need of meeting and going to another level with a yet undiscovered individual, the master matchmaker who knew to pair us with His incomparable Son, knows how to yolk us with those whom we can bless and enjoy immensely.
If life is like a box of chocolates and we never know what we’re gonna get, then relationships are perhaps like chocolate fondue. Unlike ready to eat boxed chocolates gone to quickly, ever flowing fondue may take a little extra work to be enjoyed, but it is so much more fun when we take a bigger part of the yummy process. So wander with purpose. Introduce yourself, strike up a conversation. Spend more time asking more questions of others than you spend talking about yourself. Offer to help, serve when asked. Initiate by sending a kind text or email, pick up the phone. Leave some white space on the calendar for divine appointments. We won’t connect with everyone, but we just may end up meeting our next best connection who maybe needs us more than we need them … and that is the biggest blessing of all, meeting the need of another.