Thursday, May 02, 2013

A Family Chosen

Anyone who knows me would call me an introvert, and it's very true. However, I'm an introvert with a pretty strong need for people. I don't want to organize the people or feel comfortable introducing them to each other. I certainly don't want to be at the center of the people. But I definitely want to be in the group. And obviously not all groups are created equal, but there are those groups where you feel comfortable in your own skin without fear of what will happen if those dialogue filters in your brain fail you and you say something embarrassing or inappropriate.

I got my first taste of these groups with a few friends that I had in grad school. Around the same time, we watched and read Bridget Jones Diary. I don't remember if it was in the books or the movie, but somewhere in there she referred to her tight-knit group as "urban family", and it made perfect sense. In these groups there is a connectedness that you typically think of as reserved for family. I think in some cases, you can be even closer to this "urban family", depending on your own family dynamic. I'm not saying that it should supersede your blood family, because I don't think it should. However, I don't know that I can think of my own groups as less like family. Sometimes "friend" seems too commonplace and "family" more accurate, especially when they are friendships within the Church (big C Church, the whole thing, not necessarily your local church). I have hundreds of people under the label "Friends" on Facebook, but I would said that the relationships I have with most don't feel like family.

My kids are the ones who bring this to my mind most often. They seem to get this concept so well in the way they choose people to really let into that inner circle, the people they allow to really love them. It comes out in their celebrations and in their prayers. For my youngest, it shines all over her face when she sees one of "her people", especially unexpectedly. I love that we share people. Mostly I love that she hasn't learned to temper her excitement. She never worries, "What if you don't like me as much as I like you?" That idea would seem absurd to her four-year-old diva brain even though it's something that I've struggled with as long as I can remember. And all we can do is try to unlearn the fear, to decide that family is worth the risk. The idea of being called to love has in my head for a while, and it occurs to me that I can't do that while holding other people at arm's length. So I have to keep trying. And it isn't really a task of trying to love people, because these people are completely lovable  The task is in deconstructing walls that have been put up over years and years of rejection and fears of rejection (and, let's face it, perceived yet nonexistent rejection). And it's not easy, but so far it has always been worth the effort.

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