When Family Is Not An Option
Guest Writer: Deidra L. Tolliver
Family is the one group of people who we often believe we should always be able to count on, people that we believe will be supportive of us in our time of need, or who we hope will understand our needs without us having to ask assistance. Sometimes, family is NOT all the things we hope or expect them to be. If you’re caught up in the middle of a storm, and your family turns out to be just the people you were inevitably related to, what do you do in your time of need? Who do you turn to? Who is willing to listen to you?
It dawned on me one day during one of my loneliest hours that family is actually just a group of people who God selected us to be related to, either naturally or through marriages or arrangements. Family is a group of people that we have no hand in choosing. Your parents just happened to be your parents. Your grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins are people that just so happened to be your family members. The part that hit me hardest was that a lot of the people we call family would have nothing more to do with us if we were classmates, co-workers, or neighbors. Just because we were “born into a family” of relatives does not imply that this same group of people are required to be anything more to us than they sometimes are. In spite of all the great things we may have done to or for our family, and because we hold them in a high regard of “what family should do for each other”, it does not mean that those same people “owe” us anything. So again I ask, what do you do or who do you turn to in your time of desperate need when family proves to be unavailable or unwilling to help? The answer lies in the bible…
Matthew 12:48 “He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?”
I know this all sounds cliche-ish, and I also know from experience that there are moments when I know Jesus is actually there, but the human part of me could really use a physical, human touch or voice sometimes. I also know that prayer changes things. One of the hardest things for me to do is to WAIT! Wait on God to answer my needs. Sometimes waiting seems to take forever, but if it’s meant to be, He knows, and he answers. He knows who to lead me to…He knows – and I wait.
Proverbs 14:29 “Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.”
The greatest realization I had is that I have friends! FRIENDS!!! We may not be able to select our family, but we have almost complete control over who we CHOOSE to be our friends! Family may not support your choices if you take an alternate route that falls outside of family “tradition,” but friends may! Family may not support your choice to be vegan, wear natural hair, homeschool your children, or any other “radical” choices you make in your life, but one thing is for sure. When the smoke clears, we are responsible for our lives, and the lives, safety, and well-being of our children, no matter what our relationship with our family may be. God holds us solely responsible for the choices we make for ourselves and our children. A fellow writer said it best, “I’ve asked God to remove toxic people out of my life – even if it hurts their feelings.” This is tough when these people are your “family.”
John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”
With Jesus as the center of my relationships, I know He will not lead me astray. Whether I consider family to be biological or friendships, I now focus on Jesus as the bridge. We know all too well that we will let each other down. We will let down the greatest friend we’ve ever had, or the trusted family member. Jesus is my reliance now when I seek solace from family. He is my family. He will lead me to the right physical relationships that glorify Him! This Christmas, are you looking forward to celebrating our Savior’s birth? Are you looking forward to – the food and the gifts? Are you looking forward to the Christmas parties – the church events – the caroling. Are you looking forward to the hot chocolate and the snow? Most of all, are you looking forward to spending time with the ones you love – your family.
Deidra L. Tolliver is a homeschooling mother of one and a devoted wife. She’s a retired thespian who enjoys drawing, singing, scrapbooking, journaling, traveling, and spending time with family and friends. She moved from her hometown in Miami, Florida when she was young, but hopes to someday retire on a warm, sunny beach.