Growing up, I had a pretty normal childhood filled with little league games, family vacations, and in sixth grade…divorce.
You may not think this last little tidbit is “normal,” but in today’s world, 40-50% of first-time marriages will end in divorce (the odds are greater among second and third marriages).
I know this isn’t the most cheerful start to a post, but we’re all adults here. I just want to take a very real look at what family means in today’s world.
Before my parents’ divorce, I would’ve easily labeled my family as “normal.” We ate dinner around the table together, my dad helped me with my homework, and my mom made it a habit to embarrass me whenever she got the chance.
I think it’s safe to say we were all fairly close, at least, we were until my parents separated. After that, things changed.
Like most teenagers entering junior high, my friends naturally became a much larger part of my life, filling in the social gaps that seemed to pop up more and more. In most cases, I started to see them as an extension of my actual family.
Throughout the year, I spent nights, weekends, and even the occasional family vacation with friends.
Thanks to all of these memories, I entered high school with a close-knit group of friends that I was able to rely on. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for many high school teens.
Fast-forward to college, and this group was still going strong, although, we were a little more spread out geographically. Some of us decided to go to college together while others chose to blaze their own trails, exploring new cities in far-off states.
Despite living different lives, we tried our best to continuously invest in our friendships.
Over time, I realized I had a few friends that naturally became my family:
- Thomas: We met in preschool when we were both three years old and have been inseparable ever since. He now lives in California.
- Chris: We met while playing trumpet in junior high band. Since then, we have sung together, lived together, and we’ve even worked together.
- Bob: We met while singing in our college’s all-male a cappella group and lived together during a summer in college. He now lives a few blocks away.
It’s safe to say, each one of these friends is like a brother to me. After all these years, we have invested the time and energy necessary for creating lasting friendships. Heck, all three will be standing by my side when I get married next year.
If it wasn’t for them, I’m not sure how I would’ve turned out. In a weird way, each one played a part in raising me and I have them to thank for the person I am today.
I’m not saying all of this to brag. Believe me, I’m well aware of how lucky I am and this is a massive understatement. Not everyone is able to keep these types of friendships going throughout their entire life.
When you become so close to someone, you develop an intimate understanding of them, inside and out. In much the same way, you also have the ability to push that one button that no one else knows exists and, believe me, these buttons do get pushed from time to time.
Like most relationships, these types of friendships take time and patience to successfully navigate. In the end, it’s all worth it because you get to share special moments together.
We’ve driven across the country, stood by each other as groomsmen, and even managed to survive the infamous bachelor party in Vegas. As you can probably guess, along with these highs come the inevitable lows.
Break ups. Funerals. Health issues. You name it. When you make your friends your family, these things come with the territory, no matter what. You’re there for each other without having to be asked because that’s what family means.
Friends come and go, but family really does last forever.
Invest time and energy into friendships that matter now because, whether you realize it or not, those friends could easily become family.
And family matters.
This post reflects the views and experiences of the author, and is intended to start a conversation. Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
Or, if you’d like to hear some overall thoughts on family from Christians at THRED, you can find those over here.