Over the weekend, my sister-in-law got married. This was actually a very big deal for many reasons in my family, but for AJ and myself, it was a big deal because we would be meeting one of my sisters-in-law and her family for the first time in the time I’ve been married, as well as my new brother-in-law and his entire family. We’d also not been on a trip or done much in the time I’d been in school and to go see family is one of the best reasons to take a trip. I was looking forward to seeing my niece and nephews very, very much.
I can tell you the exact moment I knew that I was going to love my new brother-in-law, Michael. I’d barely known him for a couple of hours when he sat down to talk just with me about how our trip was going thus far. My husband and his family love one another, but they had not seemed to be as family oriented as my family is. When I say my family is family-oriented, we probably border on co-dependent and clingy. Family is first. Period. Anyone that does not feel that way is a black sheep. Michael had asked how AJ was feeling about all of the people in the house and I mentioned that he was enjoying it very much because AJ has an inordinate amount of love for any and all things having to do with cousins. Michael smiled a big smile and said, “Oh that is wonderful! He will have a lot of cousins here this weekend. Both his cousins and his new step cousins! Family is the most important thing!” I found many things to love about Michael over the weekend, from the way he always makes sure everyone is at ease to asking each of the women in Lindi’s family for a dance at the reception to make sure no one felt left out. What stood out most to me was that family was first for him and it was not uncomfortable at any time for Lindi’s family to blend with his. His family is very sweet and very, very funny and if all in-laws blended so well I think many marriages would be much better off. I knew we were doing well when I was telling AJ to calm down and stop dancing around and the father of the groom winked at AJ and started dancing his own little jig in solidarity with AJ.
The thing about love is that it isn’t stingy or greedy. It expands. You can add more and more people to your heart and the only thing it does is enhance who you are as a person. There have been moments of concern or worry within this family in the past. What I do want to express in all of this is that, over all of the things I am commanded to do, I am commanded to love and I can’t do that if I’m judging someone. I’ve found that it’s not possible for me to judge someone in love because it doesn’t stay that way in my heart. It turns black and bitter and I forget who I am and what I am called to do. I’m better to avoid it completely. What I was reminded so much this weekend is that when I am open to adding people and listening and understanding I find that I, because of who I am as an individual, grow emotionally and spiritually. It was a beautiful weekend and I was privileged to spend it with my family.
AJ was sad and upset to leave his cousins. He gets that way when he leaves his other set of cousins, but this was bittersweet because it was the first time he’d spent any time with his full set of cousins on his daddy’s side as well as his new step-cousins. I think he learned a lot, as well. He spent most of the weekend avoiding hugs from Kira, seeking Cameron for “man advice” and making evil plans with Abbott and Cal. He collected bugs with Asa and played games with Liz and came home tired and full of the happiness that family provides.
I was, too.
Congratulations to my sister, one of the most beautiful, happy and joyful brides I’ve ever seen and new handsome, thoughtful, kind and wonderful brother. Welcome to my new extended family, who make me laugh with their natural wittiness. Thank you for reminding me of the joy that is found when we allow ourselves to love our family and new friends with full acceptance.