A friend regaled her recent breakup last night at young adult group. During her story, she said something profound for a woman on the edge of 30’s cliff. She said, “I’m alone, but not lonely.” You don’t often hear such confidence about single-hood among young adults, let alone church attending young people. Society and the church encourage us to be paired with someone. We are told that our full potential can be reached with the support of a significant other. Society sees that in many colors and rainbows of cohabitation. The church sees it as marriage. It doesn’t matter what spectrum you view it in, the point is that we’ve been given this notion that if we are joined with someone, we are better off. It is a two is better than one mentality.
Does family mean I have a spouse, 2.5 kids, a dog, and a house in the suburbs? That doesn’t look like most families I know. Yet we’ve begun to think that this is the ideal for what a family is. This image can be hurtful for the single man or woman who longs for a wife or husband, a couple experiencing barrenness (speaking from experience), a widower, and an orphan. God says to care for widows an orphans. Is this how we are caring for them in the church? Telling them that they aren’t part of a family because they don’t have this? I don’t think church has done this intentionally, but it is an idol that has propagated within our culture. We inadvertently tell these individuals they can’t be used by God in family unless this is what they have.
Let us redefine family. Family is a group of individuals supporting one another. My best friend is like a sister to me. Have you ever had a family friend you called aunt or uncle? Yeah, let’s get back to that mindset. Family is a community that rejoices and grieves together. Family is not how many offspring you have, whether he liked it and put a ring on it, an excited pup that greets you when you open the door, or a 5 bedroom- 3 bath cul-de-sac dwelling. God can use us as a single person, a couple, or a a group with kids.
May our focus be more on how our relationship with God is rather than the papers that state our relationship to others. May we be confident children of God, knowing who we are as co-heirs with Christ rather than feeling the pressure put on by culture due to the “typical” family void. Let’s see family how God sees it, not like the things of this world. If we don’t than we can wind up striving for that ideal more than the only one who truly sustains and fulfills, Jesus Christ.