Friends that are family...
Your family is your tribe, they are your people, they know your past and will be there in your future. When we have the opportunity to add to our tribe, our family members are by no means any less important or impactful, but our circle broadens and there is something powerful about the relationship you build with people whom you consider "family."
I like the phrase "friends that are family," because you have friends, acquaintances, neighbors, colleagues, and then there are those people who are "friends that are family." You know the difference? These are the people who know your fears, have seen you at your worst, aren't afraid to be honest, would drop everything for you. When I think about who I consider "friends that are family" there are really two groups, those who I've known since birth and those friendships that have formed later in life, but are the people who walk right alongside me.
Those people, who you were friends with from the moment you were born because your parents were friends, well they might as well be your siblings. You share so many adventures - beach vacations, trips to the lake, soccer seasons, church camps, awkward "hellos" in the hallways at school. The history of your relationship is what strengthens it. They loved you when you were an annoying 8 year old who just wanted to play, and also when you traveled through the teen years trying to figure out who you were going to be, they picked on you for your need of ear plugs when in the water, but also protected you from the teenage pursuers at every turn. These are the people who stand beside you at your wedding, are the god-parents to your children, know every bit about your past, and are currently in the trenches of life with you.
Then there are the people you consider family, but it's not because of your past, you don't have this long history, but rather an instant bond because you are traveling the same road. You fell in love with a friend of theirs from high school, you navigated college together, you played on the same sports team, and now are learning the great art of parenthood side-by-side. These too are the people who stand beside you at your wedding, are the god-parents to your children, know every bit about your past, and are in the trenches of life with you.
When you choose to let someone in your life there is a powerful addition to your every day. These friends add laughter, a calm, reassurance and hope. They remind you of your strengths and hold you up when you don't think you could possibly move. They wipe your tears and are the first to congratulate you. Friends that are family will go to the ends of the earth for you, never expect anything in return and understand when it's been a while since you've had time to see one another. There is this comfort in knowing they will always be there and a calm that comes over you when they are in your presence. It's just different than any other relationship you have. They aren't your siblings, they aren't your cousins, it's a choice to be connected and that somehow makes the relationship special. Family isn't going anywhere and this crew that you have built isn't either.
One of my favorite parts about having these relationships is seeing it trickle down to the next generation, just as some of my relationships have started with my parents and their friends. I'm helping to show my children that you need people whom they would consider family in their life and again it's not to replace their family or outshine those relationships, but instead to add to that circle because by doing so it will add a richness to their life.
My hope is that you have people like this in your life and as you read this you have their faces flash across your mind and are reminded of how important they really are to you. I hope also that my crew knows how much they mean to me!