About ten years ago, a friend sent a greeting card to me that said, “Friends are the family we create for ourselves.” I had never thought about creating a new family - one of my choosing - although I had built strong and deep friendships over the years. This new identification of my inner circle of friends as “family” changed the way I viewed their role in my life.
The closeness shared between friends is sacred, sometimes more so than familial bonds, because it is freely chosen, nurtured and contains a covenant that is rare and most difficult to replace. I have enjoyed friendship with a "sister" who has been a steadfast friend for 27 years. My well being and thought processing have been influenced greatly by her. She has fostered and encouraged me in my personal growth. We have shared a great deal: we raised our kids together, often working through concerns and joys related to parenting, nutrition, home management, marriage, spiritual issues, and extended family relationships. This friendship, more than any other, has formed my thinking in profound ways. It has healed me, challenged me, motivated me, and strengthened me. I have found a grace and mercy from her that I didn’t think possible. My path has been sculpted and my journey richer because of this relationship.
Jesus addressed this same question early in his public ministry after he selected his group of disciples. He was teaching and healing in a house packed with people when his mother and brothers “went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘he is out of his mind.’” When the word was passed through the crowd to Jesus that his mother and brothers were outside looking for him, he responded by saying, “Who are my mother and my brothers? Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark’s Gospel chapter 3)
In other words, those people who hold the same values, philosophies, and priorities are sometimes closer than those with whom we share a genetic link. Life usually has a resource available to meet our needs, but sometimes not from the source we expect it to come from. People who don't have a father or mother usually find surrogate advisors when they need some wise counsel; if siblings have shunned, we are usually able to find a close relationship to substitute. If we are childless, there are other children in the community to love on. Approach the lack in your life with an open mind. Learn to accept empyness with an outstretched open hand. Open palms raised to receive new and rich blessings. Fists clenched, nothing bad can be removed, nor good accepted.