Friday, August 8, 2008

Family and Friends

Today I am simply overflowing with the simple joys of having a family.

Friends are wonderful things. I've learned that more as I've become older. When I was younger, I was very shy (though talkative!) and, quite frankly, I wasn't a pleasant little girl. Christ's redeeming work of sanctification hadn't progressed very far in my heart, and I think it was because of this that I had very few friends. I was never one of the "in" crowd. To this day, I have a heart for the girls on the "outside," because I know exactly what that feels like.

I wouldn't say I'm on the "inside" now. ...It's just that I've become content where I am, and contentment gives a girl confidence to just be herself, and yet also be what Christ wants her to be - which certainly improves her personality and character, and that, in turn, opens the door to more friendships.

So, in my "older" years, though I still am not an amazingly wonderful, sweet, perfect girl, God has blessed me so much by giving me good friends. I've discovered what a wonderful thing it is to have true, loyal, kind, soul-lifting, Christ-like girl friends. A wonderful thing. It builds me up. It lifts Christ up. Iron sharpeneth iron. It's great.

But it's nothing like family.

There's something about siblings and parents. The bonds go beyond "friendship" in the ordinary sense of the word.

There is a freedom I enjoy with family that I will receive nowhere else. A freedom, not to be unkind or sloppy...but to be myself. And not that I am not myself with others...but...oh, I don't know. It's just different. You understand, don't you?

I know that sometimes friendships with peers, or other 'outside' people, can steal a young person's heart away from their family. Perhaps it makes them think they're family isn't 'cool,' when they contrast them with their friends. For some reason, this heart-stealing happens often when very young people make lots of outside friendships at an early age.

But God chose to bless me - in a way I didn't see as a blessing at the time - by withholding from me those close friendships I was seeking from my peers as a very young person. Instead, I formed bull-strong relationships with my siblings; friendships that are delicate, but not fragile. Friendships that were formed because we had no one else we liked better, and that are now maintained because we can't help but love one another.

Now, when God has blessed me with more relationships - with people outside my family - these friendships strengthen my bond with my family, instead of pulling it apart. I now know the depth of how much I can trust and depend on my family, and standing on their shoulders gives me strength to spring out into the world. Every new friendship I form only cements the old ones more in my heart.

And today I was busy forming a whole host of new friends, in a new place and arena. It was soooo much fun, and quite a blessing. My brothers were with me. I felt so secure, walking between them, discussing our new experiences.

Then I came home, and beheld the rest of my family. I felt like shouting "I love you guys! The world is beautiful, and you guys are wonderful, and I share this all with you!"

I will never, ever, ever claim the title of a "single." I'm not single, and I praise God for it! I've got a family!



Leah said...

Amber, this was a beautiful post! I can identify with you in so many ways. I too grew up not really fitting in and was forced to form strong bonds with my family that continue to grow stronger. Family is such a joy and yes, I do understand about it being different than other friendships. You spoke of it so well, thank you. It caused me to remember...

Love in Christ,

Amber said...

Thanks, Leah. I'm glad I'm not the only one who has dealt with this "fitting in" thing. At the time, it was unpleasant, but I'm thankful for it now. God is good.