Saturday, June 11, 2011

No Place Like Home

There truly isn't any place like being home with family...

Last Saturday I decided to drive the two hours out to my parent's place in the country, so that I could spend the rest of the weekend away from the bustle of the city and visit with my parents and youngest sister. I have to admit that I was pretty unmotivated to sit in the car that long, and spend the money on all the gas that the trip usually takes; but after debating about the drive I decided that I would look at it as an opportunity to enjoy the summer air and some tunes. So, I hopped in the car, rolled down the windows, and let the wind carry the radio tunes out my windows like a streamer of notes behind me.

My family and I spent the evening sitting outside and enjoying each other's company. My baby sis (who is now 16) and I roasted a few marshmallows over a fire pit on the back patio and chatted into the wee hours of the night. It was so nice to connect with them and just enjoy the summer evening.

What I've learned over the past few years, as I've gone through loss and anxiety, is that the people in my family are absolutely my best friends. I have had many friends turn out to be more of a foe; and have received what has felt like a 'stab in the back', due to their unjust gossip, judgment, or hasty advice for what's best for me as I've dealt with grief. It has been a very disheartening journey, but it has also opened my eyes to how much my family is more than just my family. They are the ones that have been by my side every step of my journey through grief. They have wept with me and laughed with me through everything. They have strengthened me with simply their presence or their voice over the phone.

Sure, I still have a small handful of friends that have shown unconditional love, and I treasure them; but when I think about where I feel safe, protected, unjudged, and strengthened, is at home. It has been my immediate, as well as extended, family that has been my safety net through all the tears, doubts, and fears.

Experiencing anxiety, due to losing a loved one, has not been an easy process. Going through grief is a difficult experience that is different for each person. Unless someone has gone through the heartache of loss (loved one, pet, job, etc.), or the overstimulation of anxiety, then it is almost impossible for them to understand the struggles a person faces due to those experiences. Many well intentioned friends have inflicted pain on others by their words and what they thought was encouragement. Unfortunately, there is no way to know what is best for a grieving friend unless you have experienced the same pain, and even then it still may not be an appropriate answer.

When I think about my family, and fellow grieving friends,  I think of the compassion and patients they have extended towards me; because of the bond of 'family' by blood and family by our souls' shared experience of grief.

My hope is that my experiences going through grief and anxiety will help mold me into a more understanding and loving friend to others that are hurting from the same thing. As a Christian I believe we are all called to treat others with unconditional love. I know I have failed friends in many ways, and I hope that each day I am able to show a little more of what I need in my own life as well.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." - 1 Cor. 13:4-7

I desire to be a friend that makes those around me like thay are 'home'...unjudged and fully loved.


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