When I got ready to pull out of my parents’ driveway to move cross-country nearly two weeks ago, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. But somehow, I didn’t realize that I was going to cry. Funny enough, I had put a brand-new box of Kleenex in my front seat. And when Mama put her arms around me and began to cry, I knew I was going to need it! I tried to crack a half-hearted joke with my breaking voice, but it fell flat. I hugged Ruby quickly and tried not to look at Daddy for more than a second. It hurt too much. I tried to get into the car before I fell completely apart and managed to get out on the highway… I just let the tears fall down my cheeks and onto my shirt. Twenty miles later, I put away the last thoughts of turning around and used a couple of Kleenex to sop up my face. Good thing I hadn’t wasted energy on mascara that morning.
My parents aren’t perfect. We’re all human. At times we have hurt each other pretty badly. We’ve taken each other for granted. We don’t always agree. We’ve said things to each other that cut each other deeply. But over the past four months, as I left my job and my house, and then moved nearly 2900 miles from home, I did learn that my parents do love me and support me no matter what. And that’s a pretty special thing to know. I have a safety net. Always.
My heart breaks for people that don’t have that. And sadly, not everybody does.
Family can hurt you in a way that nobody else can. They’re the ones that are supposed to always love you and believe in you and support you, no matter what. But what about when they don’t?
What about when they are the ones that judge you and tear you down and accuse you and attack you?
You are still loved and you still have a purpose!
Lately, I’ve had the great misfortune of seeing a frightening number of my friends go through the pain and devastation of being mistreated by their families. (When did it become okay for families to punish their family members for being happy, living their own lives, and making their own decisions?!) Some of my friends have been ostracized by their families. Some of them have been attacked by their families. Some of them have families who are just completely indifferent to them. And it breaks my heart because I see my friends aching and wounded, feeling inferior or unworthy or unloved. I want to take them all in my arms and hold them until they never hurt or doubt themselves or feel unloved again. But life doesn’t usually grant me that wish.
If the past few years have taught me nothing else, they have taught me that family is about far more than DNA. As I type this, I’m sitting in a bed nearly three-thousand miles from my biological family, but I’ve been graciously taken in by a family with whom I share no DNA. They’ve opened their home and their hearts and put a roof over my head. They pass out copious hugs and smiles and laughter and advice and support. I feel incredibly blessed. And on the other side of the country, I have wonderful, supportive, loving parents who miss me, call me, and worry about me.
Yes, I’m blessed.
And this is what kept me on the road almost two weeks ago:
Because I have been loved well, I have something to offer the world.
Each day, I want to step out into the world, whether it’s physically or via my blog or phone or social media, and put my arms around the world and say, “You are loved. You are important. You are somebody. You are amazing. You are talented. You are skilled. You have a purpose. You are not inferior. You are not worthless. You are priceless.”
If you are in need of a hug, reach out – there’s one here for you.
If you have a hug, share it – I promise there is someone near you that needs it.
Let’s Love One Another.