I have been pondering ‘friends’ and ‘family,’ and what defines each. It is said that the difference is you can choose your friends, but you are stuck with the family you are given. Is that true? Maybe. But maybe the difference is not genetics but us. Huh?
Maybe the difference between ‘friends’ and ‘family’ is our behavior, not bloodlines. Maybe it’s the way we treat them, act towards them, think of them. Who do you love? Who are you overjoyed to see no matter how recently you saw them? Who do you hug the moment you meet them?
‘Family’ speaks connection, kinship, caring. So maybe friends are really family, and family friends. Or at least, they could be. But do I treat family the same way I treat a friend? Do I care about their concerns, feel joy over their triumphs, and hurt for their pain? Or do I reserve that for ‘friends?’ Am I truly glad to see family, or only my friends? And if there is a distinction in the way I treat others, how to end it? To change it?
I think back to my friend, Vitie, of whom I have written before. Perhaps the way she lived is a clue, a lesson to be learned. When she spoke to you on the phone, the joy she experienced just because you called her came through like a beacon of light. Before she hung up, she would always say “I love you.” Whenever we were together, there was never one word of complaint, even if she wasn’t feeling 100%. Love and joy were the qualities that marked her attitude, her life. She was always glad to see you, hear from you, and she let you know it. And, if you were her friend, you were her family; therefore, she prayed for you. Not just sometimes, but everyday.
Why was Vitie so able to draw you to her, to make you part of her family, when we so often seem to draw that distinction between the two? I believe it was Vitie was utterly confident that she was LOVED! Loved as she was – virtues, faults, mistakes. Loved perfectly. Loved abundantly. Loved sacrificially. That’s why she was able to love others, to embrace those around her as family, whether by blood or choice.
And that is how I want to live – LOVED. Loved by the only One who can love perfectly, abundantly. Who can love me – sin and all – so much, that even before I could love him, he not only died to redeem me from the past, but rose alive to show me how to love as he did – freely, abundantly, sacrificially. That is what I want to be when I grow up – just like Vitie did! That’s a lesson to be treasured.