Friday, February 13, 2015

A to Z: F for Family (An Honorable Mention)

Whenever there is something keeping me from sitting down and writing it's more than just writer's block. I imagine writer's block being having absolutely no idea what to write about. I often have many ideas of what to write about, but one: I don't know where to go with the idea or two: I doubt my ability to give it due justice. So I guess that would be considered writer's some degree. 

A little while ago I wrote about my wife's Grandma Penny. It's been bothering me ever since because I don't feel I did her justice. It's the reason I have still yet to write a piece about my own grandmother. How to you capture such a massive spirit in just words on a page? This, I suppose, separates the great writers from ones that simply want to be great. I hope I can earn my way across that line one day. Preferably sooner than later. Life, however, doesn't run by my watch.

For me, family deserves multiple chapters to explain and reveal its relevance, importance and mysteries. Perhaps one day I'll accept that challenge, but now the challenge is figuring what intricate details of family do I write about in a short amount of space?

I think music and lyrics are great at helping us realize things that we never before knew existed. It gives us words for feelings that are brand new or ones that have been waiting to be explained. Understood. Music gives us words to interpret and illustrate what we feel or believe before realizing we felt or believed them. Great writers make me wonder if I could ever be great. But rather than have that doubt cramp my creativity, I use it as inspiration. Charles Martin, one my favorite authors, expresses and paints images with words with poetry and grace. I admit, I doubt my own abilities as a writer when reading his books, but here I am, still writing. Still inspired. Bono doesn't leaving me doubting my musical ability because I absolutely have none. But, I'm still left inspired at how he can capture deep and complex topics with such simple yet heart-rending, powerful poise and elegance.

Bono sings, "A house doesn't make a home." How true. A house is boards, bricks and nails with some shingles to keep us dry. We don't need that to make a home. We don't even need a foundation. Family is our foundation. It's our support as well as the cracks. It exposes our weaknesses, but gives us strength to stand against high tides and the transgressions we only wish we were immune to. In another song, Bono sings, "Home... it's where the hurt is." That's the great thing about family. It gives you hurt and healing all at once and the tough love that takes years to fully comprehend. The hurt is's pain forcing us to shed our old selves and giving us new perspectives and new foundation of faith, dignity and self-respect. Most importantly, it helps us to deal with the hurt that comes with living life. My pastor said recently, "we are either heading into a storm, in the middle of one or just getting out of one." No matter where in that process we are, God is with us. And so is family.

Growing up I had the pleasure of knowing what family was truly about. Although it wasn't always so pleasant. The lessons of tough love were hard to swallow, but years later, having a family of my own, I get it. The biggest blessing during that period was the fact that my parents stayed together...something easily taken for granted. Being an educator, I come in contact with so many broken families and kids that are never in the same home (or house) two weekends in a row. 

Through the battles with brothers, the arguments with parents and the stupid choices, my family, our home, prevailed. Having been exposed to parents that stayed together, grandparents that were effortlessly involved, birthday parties with cousins, the church community, family picnics, and reunions, I  was able to take those seeds and harvest them into who I am and who I still want to become. Because that's what family needs. Family makes an effort to surround their children with what could be, should be - and in my case when my father died - would be a support system. Whether in time of celebrations, reunion or grieving, family is what makes you feel at home whether or not you're surrounded by boards, bricks and shingles.

Nine years ago - almost to the day - my wife and I became part of a family. The most important one. Our own. And in our kitchen hangs a sign that reads, "Being in this family means that you'll be loved forever no matter what." I show love to my girls everyday through praises, kisses, hugs and laughter. There's definitely cracks in the foundation - hurtful wounds that we wish we could take back - but to live is learn and to learn is to live. Each morning we are blessed with the same sun, but a brand new sunrise. We just have to choose to walk on...walk on with family in our rear-view mirror to remind us where we've come from. Walk on with family out beyond the windshield guiding us to where we belong.

Your home is not your house, but rather where the grace, love and forgiveness from others is housed. It's where we hang our hearts. I place my proverbial heart into the hands of my girls to give them something to hold onto whether today or when I'm no longer around. I place my heart around their necks as a pendant so my heart and their hearts will always be in close proximity. I place my heart in their thoughts so their thoughts are centered around the cornerstone of Christ.

Family...a beautiful word. A beautiful gift. Enjoy yours today so they may understand and appreciate the beauties of tomorrow.

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