Who is My Family?

Who is My FamilyI recently returned from a family reunion of relatives of my mother. She came from a large family of nine children, and some of her siblings also had large families so we had about 35 people attend of 2nd & 3rd generations. I am one of two surviving grandchildren of the Dahl grandparents who immigrated to this country in 1888.

Some of the relatives are interested in genealogy and have even done DNA testing. I created some family charts years ago but have not maintained the database, so it is out-of-date.

I also researched some of the records on my father’s side of the family that go back even further even though he had only four other siblings and his mother died when he was only three.

The lectionary a couple of weeks ago was on the Good Shepherd and about who is my neighbor. This past weekend caused me to consider who is my family? Christians claims that all people of faith are our family, but that is too broad a claim. My Bible study companions of 13 years are my closest family I suppose since all the members of my immediate family are deceased.

In the LGBT community, many people have adopted a family of friends and allies since their biological family may have disowned them. That happened to my partner years ago even though he eventually was reconciled with his parents. Adopted members of families often ultimately feel they must search their bloodline even though that sometimes ends in even more pain. Being gay was an issue I never discussed with my parents even though it was an open secret. Since I had two partners over a period of 13 years, it was not an issue that could be hidden even if they chose to ignore it.

The members of the small congregation I attend feel like family at their weekly dinner-on-the grounds every Sunday during the school year. Sundays always have been a lonely time for me because in times past they were reserved for time with my parents and sister when they were living. Although my partners did not attend church with me, we lived together and usually were together on the weekends.

Most advocacy groups like to pitch themselves are sort of like families since their members share the same opinions and/or beliefs. I reluctantly recently parted ways with the Reconciling Ministries Network since I no longer believe that the divisions within the United Methodist Church can be reconciled and that the denomination will split. That was the case with the other mainline Protestant denominations in recent years, and I don’t see that the Methodists will be any different.

A lot of folks like to joke about the political discussions and conflicts around the Thanksgiving & Christmas dinner tables where dissension often breaks out even among blood relatives. So what are the ties that bind? Whatever or whomever we chose to affiliate with may be the simplest answer. I consider my long-term friends as family since I have known some of them for decades. Even though we never lived together, our friendship and love feels like family.

Who do you consider to be your family?