Meeting Family Again (for the First Time)

nathanielkiddnathanielkidd on 1221800706|%B %d

For me, one of the great unexpected blessings of being married has been the opportunity to meet my extended family again, for the first time.

To be sure, I grew up in the context of aunts and uncles and grandparents, all wonderful and doting people. I attended plenty of family reunions. But the adults were always adults, and I always a child. Suddenly, I am married and matriculated, and I have crossed some invisible line into maturity. All those relationships are malleable again.

I feel as though all the leaves on my family tree quiver and bend down to get a look at my new, beautiful bride. In the process, they have seen me afresh, and I, too, have seen them anew. And we are both pleased at what we see: a tree with thick roots, strong branches, and rich, abiding fruit.

I have a pretty awesome family. Every one of my relatives has made very different, very unique choices for their lives. I am incredibly grateful to have such a diverse and fascinating lineage. In my family there are Democrats and Republicans, Methodists and Presbyterians, missionaries, government workers, and entrepreneurs. I feel a twinge of regret that my childhood is over, knowing that this makes finding opportunities to learn from and be formed by the wisdom of these elders more difficult. But on the other hand, we have the opportunity to form and explore brand new relationships that are just as powerful and sustaining.

I also have a whole new family that I am getting to know. They are no less remarkable than the family I was born into, though often in very different ways. Sarah’s kin are pilots and teachers, diplomats and engineers, with much the same sustaining spirit of goodness and faith that underlines my own family of origin.

This summer gave me an extended time to interact with some of Sarah’s family. We loved cooking dinner for her dad, and going to the fair with her mom and little siblings. We loved having dinner with Gramma Louise, and driving out to visit Tia.

This road trip, meanwhile, has given me the chance to connect and reconnect with some of my extended family. And every moment has been fantastic. We stayed with my Aunt Margaret and Uncle Bruce in Michigan, and my Uncle Bob and Aunt Nancy in Connecticut. We also had the opportunity to catch up with a few more of Sarah’s folk. We got to meet Great Aunt Jean in New York, are currently staying with her mom’s parents in Fairfax, and we are looking forward to staying with her Aunt Kristie in Williamsburg.

I am supremely thankful for all of the gracious hospitality extended to us by our families over these past several months. Above all, I am grateful that our families form a faithful spiritual milieu that supports our life and adventures together in Jesus Christ. The love and prayers going out with us from all of those who love us has been almost tangible as we have progressed in our journey, and I believe that it will follow us, even to India.

Like marriage, travel abroad is a deeply transforming event that makes such an impact that relationships become malleable again. I in fact had a friend in college who described himself as “born again through study abroad.” While the verbiage might be a little irreverent, certainly the sentiment is a valid one. His perspective was so fundamentally shaken by what he experienced that he felt the freedom, even the necessity, to respell all of his commitments, and redefine all of his relationships.

It’s probably a little early to talk about how our time abroad will affect our relationships. But I hope and pray it will draw us closer to our families, deepen our sense of appreciation and wonder at the terrific things that have been passed down to us by the grace of God through our relatives. Truly our family tree has deep roots and broad branches, and we look forward to tasting its ripened fruit.

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