The older you get the more weddings you attend. Sadly, this is also true with funerals. I've been to my fair share of both, but as I get older I think I am finally starting to appreciate the importance of the deepest bond shared between people. This is of course the bond of family.
I have loved and hated my own family, but much like anyone else I've been deeply loyal to them through all of it. In my late teens I think was trying to break free of the responsibility of the family I was born into and I rebelled. In my early twenties I stuck my flag in the ground when we started our own, assured that ours would be stronger than the one my parents provided for us. But only now at twenty-seven am I finally starting to see the value that the old folks always talk about; that unmistakable bond, that sense of community. The shared name that comes with the shared memories, the shared growth, the shared victories, the shared losses. As humans we long for deep community, and a strong family can completely fill that void.
As a generation, as a culture even, I think we've lost a lot of what family means. The sense of entitlement within our generation has wrecked our marriages, made us disloyal and selfish. We think we're being modern or enlightened as we escape the "chains of tradition" but the truth is we lack the sense of family as it was intended, all the while desperately craving it.
There's something that these strong, loving families have that we don't. While sitting in a wedding reception or rehearsal dinner among these families I can feel it. It's emotionally moving. There's something true about it, it just feels right. Members are accepted, they belong, and they are loved within their families. They hurt each other deeply, but they forgive totally and they never turn their back on each other. This is what family was meant to be, to shape us into better people, to provide love and security over time, to pass down gifts and lessons, not diseases and abuse. As I watch two strong families join together through marriage I can't help but be inspired. Even at funerals I can sense of the power of a strong family who comes together to mourn a loved one, to remember the details of a life lived, to offer support to each other. There really is nothing more beautiful, and nothing that better illustrates the Church's intended function than a strong, loving, committed family.
My twenties have been about traveling and music. It's been about Kristie and I doing life together, being adventurous, growing stronger and building a solid relational foundation for our family. I feel a shift happening within me as I turn the corner and start looking at my thirties. I want to further my family. I want to create something strong and loving, rich with memories like I had as a kid but even much better. Something long-lasting. I want to leave a legacy, to give life and to carry on my family name. To pass down history and meaning and lessons and stories. These are the things that matter. There's a new adventure a few years away, just over the horizon; to give what I've received these past several years. To receive, through giving, a new struggle to shape us.