Since Grandma Lila has first lived with us, I've become aware of a unique quirk of her philosophy and belief that I don't think I've ever encountered quite so strongly before. She is very deeply aware of the difference between those of her blood and "everyone else" who isn't.
To her, while a person may be very fond of adopted children or in-laws, they exist on a slightly removed plane from those of her blood. It's such a basic understanding that even as she's gradually forgetting so many things that used to be second-nature to her, she remembers this. There are those who are blood-related to her and those who aren't; and those who aren't blood can never be family. Not really.
It took me a long time to put my finger on why this was disturbing to me. There was the obvious reason that I wasn't blood and Grandma just doesn't quite believe I'm a member of her family. I was not, am not, and probably will never be a granddaughter in her mind. This is partly due to the difficulty of not being able to remember who I actually am. But it's partly because I'm not blood and that's that.
There was more to it, though. I've finally realized what it is: I believe in adoption. I believe there is something much greater and stronger than simple relationship through blood, as powerful as that is.
I believe it's possible to become family with people I wasn't born blood-related to. I deeply believe that although I wasn't born one of God's Chosen People, I can be adopted into God's family as seamlessly as if I really was blood of their blood. Without this belief, this hope, it would be a pretty depressing thing to read the Bible. I would always be cut off from really being able to take part in God's promises to those he calls "my people". This doesn't mean I think I'm actually a descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob because I've just decided I am - it means that I believe I've been grafted in to the family of his promise "you will be my people and I will be your God" just like any person who has faith in him.
Adoption is a thing that if done correctly is an amazing outgrowth of love. Love creating a family that isn't bound together by blood at all - a family that didn't have to be one, but chose to be one. The love of a parent for a natural-born child is a pretty spectacular thing; but true love of adopted family is extraordinary. Even supernatural. You're biologically geared to love flesh of your flesh. Not so much someone who doesn't originally belong to you at all. The bindings this kind of love can create can often be stronger than the love of a biological relative, though: that's been proved over and over. Ask military men about the bond between people in combat situations, for example. As Proverbs says, "There is a friend who is closer than a brother"; and Jesus, "Greater love has no man than he who lays down his life for his friends."
Marriage is a kind of adoption: a decision to become one person and to have lives bound together that otherwise would be totally separate, a decision that another person's family is going to become yours and your children will be part of them as well as part of the family you grew up.
If those who weren't family can't actually fully become family, then there's not much point to a marriage, in my mind. My family would always be closer than the husband I live with and I would always want to be with them rather than here. How terrible would it be if Ben and his family could never measure up to my family in my mind, so I always held them a little further away than my family? I bet you've seen that happen in some marriages before. It's devastating to everyone involved.
But God created marriage to be good. He said it was good for a man and woman to leave their parents and "cleave" to each other. To stick to each other, to become true family as if bound by the closest ties blood could create. He's enabled us to love those who were never born of our blood just as tightly and completely as if we had always been together.
I know he's done it because he made us to be like him. And God himself tells us the spirit is stronger than the flesh. Love is stronger than blood, not contingent on it.
Wife of Benjamin and mother to two wonderful little girls who are getting bigger every day. Enjoys writing down thoughts and discussions we are having within the family and sharing them with whoever is interested in reading.
Please don't be shy! If you're reading the blog updates, we'd like to hear what you think. Click on the "comments" link to send us a note.