As much as I love kids, I'm not really a fan of babies. They don't really do anything. They're needy and high maintenance and ain't nobody got time for that. But when I found out my brother and sister-in-law were having their first kid, I decided I was going to try to warm up to the idea of babies being cool, cause I wanted to be ready to step into my immediate role as "cool Aunt Annie". While I will still power walk fast and far away from you if you start talking to me about the details of childbirth, I'm cool with babies. While we weren't expecting her for another month now, here I am, sitting in the waiting room of the maternity ward, waiting for my niece to be born! Eek! So exciting. As I sit here playing the waiting game, I've had lots of time to stare at creepy maternity photos from the '90s hanging on the wall of this waiting room, catch up on some homework and think. You know, like you. A little self-reflection in front of some creepy pictures of pregnant women never hurt anyone...
I'm not really partial to babies but I already love my niece. I am sitting here, anxious, butterflies in stomach, waiting for her debut as a human. I've been at this hospital for five hours, I want to be here when she comes into this world. Why? Cause I love her. Why do I love her? It's not like she's done anything for me, or has any sort of special talent. (Though fingers crossed she does cause that'd be sweet...) I've never even met her. I don't know the color of her eyes. I don't know if she has hair yet or if she'll be a girly girl or a tomboy or if she'll prefer pink to purple or if she'll be tall or short or outgoing or shy. But I love her. Because she's my family. She's belongs to us. She's ours. She hasn't done anything for me. I don't benefit from her being here. I don't get anything out of it.
Because that's what family is.
That's what love is.
I know I'm incredibly blessed to have a close-knit, big, loving family. My family is awesome. Not everyone's family is awesome. Every family is unique, though. But I know one thing about families. A family is where you should be accepted and loved and cared for...for no reason. You shouldn't have to earn love with your family. You shouldn't have to be anyone but you. You should be safe from the outside world that isn't always so generous. You should be unconditionally loved by your family.
Not everyone's family is awesome.
There are far too many ways that a member of a family can mess up and hurt you and be cruel and make you feel small and unimportant and unloved. Intentional or not.
And when a dad or a mother or a sister or a brother or a cousin or an uncle or aunt or grandparent messes up...it hurts everyone. It hurts you.
We all carry baggage from our family. Even the people with perfect families. Because family is where we are supposed to get our first feelings and ideas of unconditional love and acceptance. But people are fallible and imperfect and messed up and we hurt each other whether we know it or not and sometimes life is sad and love is very, very conditional. We can try and try and try but the love of our families, or the people we've found family with, will always fail us. Because we are selfish and self-seeking and just trying to get through this crazy life on top.
We were not created to be alone. We are created for relationships. It is not good to isolate, to pull away, to hide, to be fake. We are created for deep, real relationships. We are designed to crave and seek and feel accepted and loved and lovely and delighted in. Where do you find family, belonging, love? Where do you feel delighted in? Sometimes it's hard to find these delighted-in moments, because families can be broken and sad and life can be mean and dark. But if you look hard, you will find it. I promise.
In the laughter of a coffee date with a best friend who knows your secrets and your mistakes and loves you despite your middle school fashion choices. In the smile of the nice lady at the grocery store who let you vent about your terribly stressful day for five minutes without interrupting. In the pitter-patter of paws across hard-wood floors as you walk in the door after a long day and you coming home is the highlight of someone's-even if not a human- day. In the text message of a distinct acquaintance asking how you've been and it is just nice to know that the thought of you was running around in someone's brain cells today. In finding a familiar face when you least expect it. In the holding of hands, kisses on cheek, store-bought flowers because he knows they make you happy. In a church head bowed, or a sunset painted beautifully just for you in this moment, or wherever you feel the presence of your Maker most and His deep desire for your heart and soul and being and all that you are and all that you aren't and you know that He's got the whole world in His hands.
Where do you find it?