deeper than blood

Family is a loaded word.

For some, happy memories come to mind first. Smiles, laughter, enjoyment, safety, love—these are the things that encompass their family.

For kids like me, that is the family we long for.

Sorrow, pain, brokenness, fear, humiliation—these are what come to mind for me.

Never enough, always alone; surrounded by people who share half my blood, yet I was the stranger. I was the intruder. To me, they wore a mask that showed kindness and offered me terms for admittance. The mask was all I saw for most of my life. Beneath it lie deception, pride, hatred.

I was the relative. They were a family. Of sorts.

I think I feared the word “family” for many years. Aside from my mother, there was no one else I was related to that I would ever call family. I hated being asked about “my family.” It was a simple question that to me was the most complicated thing to try to answer.

What do you want to know about my family? Do you want to hear the truth? That the people I called “family” for over a decade tried to destroy my soul? That I had to prove myself and overcome my last name—both of which were impossible stipulations that shouldn’t have been in place—in order to be allowed access to the small ounce of hope of feeling accepted by those who should’ve accepted me for the simple miracle that I was born?

This was what I thought of family for years.

And this is what God is unteaching me.

There are many things I see and have seen in my life that bluntly tell me God works to redeem us for His glory. The simple fact that my heart still has the capacity to love is one. That I can praise God for using my loaded past to get me to who and what and where I am now is another one. At our current chapter, however, the biggest thing I’m seeing Him redeem is family.

I’d always been taught that your family is your greatest asset, that, in times of strife, it is your family that will stand by you and get you through.

I was taught this, but I didn’t see it. I couldn’t believe it.

And then here come all these people who become my greatest asset, who, in times of strife, stood by me and got me through.

And not a single drop of blood is shared in common between us. There had to be a catch. If those related to me couldn’t love me, how can those not bound to me by blood do so?

Blood is thicker than water.

But grace runs deeper than blood.

By grace, I’ve been given new life. This new life includes new family. Of course, it it does. Why wouldn’t it?

What do you want to know about my family? Do you want to hear the truth?

I have been blessed with the best people biology couldn’t give me. From the hard-working airplane mechanic (and future pilot) who didn’t give up on me when I probably gave plenty of reason to do so, to the tea-loving freedom fighter who gently encourages me, to the best friend who saved my life and led me to Jesus over a decade ago, to the talented brother who emboldens me to be the faithful servant I was meant to be, to the hug-givers, Asian food-eaters, tender rebukers, positive speakers, and warriors of prayer, to those who radiate love from the centers of their souls—this is my family. This is where I’m accepted, forgiven, built-up, and loved.

To be able to say this is testament of the holistic healing I’ve been given:

I have the best family.

And I’m spoiled; more people keep coming into it.

To all of you: I’m so grateful for you in my life. I don’t have enough words in my vocabulary to express it, and I know I haven’t said it enough.

But thank you. And I love you.

God’s pretty great, isn’t He? ^__^

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Come Alive [redux]

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs… ask yourself what makes you alive because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” -Rainier Maria Rilke

What makes her come alive? What lights up her eyes with curiosity, peace, and mischief? What instills breath in her lungs in the morning and sustains till the next?

Love. Hope. Faith. Courage. Trust. Grace.

Without these, her life is an empty husk.

Love drives her passions – passions for writing, for people, for fighting, for warmth, for gentleness. Love as defined by its Author. Hope allows her to be thankful for a known God writing a future unknown to her, to be grateful for things to come because of proof from things that have come. Faith commits her to Him and relies on Him for breath and mercy. Courage grants her opinions, her personality. It takes much for her to be who she was made to be. Courage plants her feet on a firm foundation when opposition seeks to remove her from it.

Trust.

She would be nowhere without trust. She would seek proof where none is found, test truth for falsities. She would drive herself mad with uncertainty. Trust grounds her in the object of her trust. There is but One is who trustworthy, and He is good.

Grace.

What would she be without grace? An unrepentant, trapped, mess of a woman. She would be drowning in her sin and unable to save herself. Grace gives her strength and reason to try everyday, to love and change and grow.

 What makes her come alive?

God.

God gave her life and gives her life daily. It is only by His power and His grace and His faith that she may rise every morning and inhale the life He grants for that day. And all the days He blesses her with following it.