Hello SOTGC community,
I think of my family often and especially during the holidays I find myself contemplating all my loved ones and reminiscing many fond memories. When I think about family, it brings me thoughts and feelings of unconditional love. I’ve been blessed to have been raised in a family that loves one another 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, no matter what!
My love for my family is not bound by rules and guidelines and if one of them behaves in a way that disappoints or hurts me, I don’t chastise, condemn them or withhold my love in any way. My love is also not merely tied to birthday cards, thank you notes and well wishes as some believe, it goes deeper, to the depths of my soul and does not require card acknowledgments for me to understand or proclaim. My love for them is expressed in my words, actions and the support I give in all they strive for in life!
I have the pleasure and comfort in knowing that even when my sister or mother-in-law forgets to send me a card for my birthday, that they absolutely and completely love me anyway! And I love each one of my family members (in laws included), not for what they do for me, but for who they are as individuals, how they show up in the world each day and because they are family. I have no requirements for my love for them, they get it freely, with no strings attached, whether they want it or not!
My family is no different than most, some family members are loud and obnoxious, some timid and shy, some love to hug, some have funny laughs, are opinionated, inappropriate, awkward, troublemakers, silly, ambitious, practical, messy, artistic, vocal, funny, calm, playful, innovative, they have different interests, belief systems and talents. Each of these people in my family is unique and beautiful in their own right, with no exceptions. If my beliefs or opinions don’t align with their beliefs or opinions, I don’t allow it to be an issue between us and I support them on their path without having to adopt it as my own.
It reminds me of this quote from Aristotle “It is the mark of an educated mind to entertain a thought without accepting it.” Too often people expect their family members to be alike on every level, spiritually, politically, how they parent, use of etiquette, etc.
What would happen if as a family we all came from a place of love without expectations, rules and competitiveness?
What a blessing it would be if all families would put differences aside, agree to disagree on some things, and focus on all the things they love about each other instead of picking one another apart. When families come together to encourage, support and love each other through good times and bad, it further strengthens the family as a unit and allows all the children in that extended family to find comfort in knowing that they will always be unconditionally loved and accepted within their family nucleus and if disagreements happen they will be peacefully resolved and love will prevail.
I realize that some of you may be reading this thinking that your family is far too broken to ever repair. I want to encourage you to take the first step and ‘be’ what you want to see in your family. It is the same idea Ghandi speaks of, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” In shifting your energy and the way you are showing up with your family, over time those around you will shift and begin to mirror you. If your family needs compassion, ‘be’ compassionate, if they need love and encouragement, ‘be’ loving and encouraging. Become whatever it is your family needs more of. It’s in the action coupled with the love from your heart that will make all the difference and eventually elicit change.