Growing up, one of my favorite movies was “Three Men and a Little Lady.” Of course, I had grown up watching its predecessor as well, “Three Men and a Baby,” however, the little girl was someone with whom I could far more easily relate.
You see, my family was not a “normal” one. I had lost my father by the time I was nine. So my mom was officially a single mom. But, I also had at least two grandparents heavily involved, plus a bunch of aunts and uncles constantly checking in. And then my mom got remarried, which took my singleton life of being an only child and threw it out the window. I ended up with seven siblings and a slew of nieces and nephews already on board. Plus my siblings’ moms were still living so I got to know them, too. And a bunch of new cousins, on top of the twenty-one I grew up with. Not to mention that we kept adding to our group of friends who were family at the same time.
So, yeah… family was never a “normal” concept for me. It never fit this perfect mold that some part of society told me about. What was even more interesting is that many of the families around me didn’t either. And I always wondered, why was everyone so incredibly harsh to those who were different?
All of my parents, and yes, I had three of them, had taught me that family are those who love you and who you love back. Sometimes they are made up of blood. Sometimes by legal adoption. Sometimes by marriage. And sometimes by adoption of the heart. But at the end of the day, the thing that truly makes a family a family is love. Period.
Some have accused us of “picking up strays” over the years, because they never understood. And many in this world really do not understand – that is likely why the world at large continues to be so hard on families that do not fit the typical mold.
Yet, here I find myself, once again in an untypical family. I am a single mom with sons of my own blood and daughters of my heart. And we are creating a stable, loving environment for one another to grow and thrive. Because that is what family does.
Now here’s the real secret: God’s family is not “normal” either. Scripture teaches us that there is no one specific model of what family looks like – whether we are talking about unusual examples like Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi or Jesus being raised by a step-dad. The Bible is full of families that do not fit what our culture has taught us is the “normal” model.
Far more importantly, however, is that the church, God’s family on earth, is meant to look like the body of misfits that my family loves to gather together. Where all are welcome. It does not matter where someone came from. It only matters that they want to be here because they are loved. And they will be loved, just as they are. And because of that, they can love others and live fully with profound courage.
That is who we are meant to be as the family of faith. A family built on love.
And the rest of our families should mirror the same.