Three ways to cope when missing family
“There is no love like the love of family"
The word "wholeness" means the state of forming a complete and harmonious whole; unity. For many of us, the feeling of being whole or complete is what we get to experience when family surrounds us. They feed our most inner needs for security and unconditional love. After we are born, family is usually the first thing we grow to love and where we learn its meaning from. God designed us to need and experience this emotion. After all without His love, love would fail to exist."We love because he first loved us." 1 John 4:19.
For my husband and I, we don't have family near, but we have a wonderful church community and friends who make us feel loved, so that helps tremendously. Despite it all, there is still something about that feeling you get when relatives are all together sharing stories, laughing, and reminiscing. You somehow feel whole and complete more than you did before. Being around the ones who still love you for who you truly are is extremely comforting.
As we get busy with our day to day lives, it can be easy to forget those warm, sincere feelings that our families can bring us, especially if we don't see them often or if some have passed. For those like us, where family members live further away, the distance can make life hard and sometimes lonely. Some people don't see family at all, but wish they could. When there is a chance to finally see them; we tend to feel this sense of peace, security, and love that we desperately needed. Sometimes we don't even realize what we need until we experience the "wholeness" of family. If you find yourself missing something in your life or trying to fill a void, please continue reading. Over time and through my own life experiences, I have learned 3 ways to help me cope when missing family. I hope you find them applicable to your life. First, let me share a recent experience that helped inspire this post.
“Being around the ones who still love you for who you truly are is extremely comforting."
A few weeks ago, we went to my great Aunt Judy's 80th birthday in my small Ohio hometown. She is my Grandma Joan's sister. My Grandma Joan passed away during my teenage years. I wrote about the influence she had on my life in a previous post "Growing in His Grace." Aunt Judy had no idea we were all coming. It was a complete surprise. When we walked in, tears fell down her face... this touched me deeply. It was really special to be in my hometown with my husband and children where a lot of my childhood memories were made. During the party, I couldn't help but think of Grandma when looking at Judy and her other sister Ruthanne. They both remind me of Grandma in more ways than one which made me feel content. I felt as if a piece of Grandma was right there with us. I am thankful for the time we had to reconnect with aunts, uncles, and cousins who I have not seen in years. For a lot of them, this was their first time meeting my husband and children.
God was revealing what a gift family is and how complete they can make you feel. It was encouraging to hear people bring up Grandma and Grandpa. It was nice to see their pictures in Judy's home and know that they are thought of often. They made an impact on everyone's lives in some sort of way. It was surreal to think my cousins who I played with as a little girl, had children who were now playing with my children. Even just hearing everyone call me "Chrissy,"(my childhood nickname) which I have not heard in years, was really comforting. It was exciting to see God's work playing out so beautifully with each generation.
I feel like these feelings and events happen to remind us of what is really important in life. If you do have the chance to be around your family often, you may forget the emptiness you have without it. The emptiness is real and is difficult to bare especially during life’s more intimate moments. It is during these moments where I've learned these 3 ways to help me cope when I'm missing family and feel incomplete.
1.) Give thanks for the gifts you have right in front of you instead of wishing for more. Family can consist of the wonderful friends and the community around you. That is a gift all in itself to be thankful for.
2.) Lean on Christ to find joy even in life's most difficult times. I always remember a quote by Lysa Terkeurst from her book "Univited." She says you must feel the pain to heal the pain. I will talk about this book more in another post...it is so inspiring!
Click here for a prayer from her book that will help you lean on Christ and encourage you during difficult times of loneliness or emptiness.
3.) Never take for granted of the time we have with your loved ones, instead take advantage of the time we have left. We have no idea what the future holds for any of us, so forgive and hold on to no regrets.
My husband's dad (Dave) is going through terminal stage 4 lung cancer. Just over a year ago, Dave was living a normal healthy life. He didn't even know what was coming. None of us did. A lot can change in one year. Seeing the effect it's having on my husband and his family has left me feeling sensitive to our time here on earth. I also feel helpless in some ways. I wish I could do something more to help and at times and I don't know what that something is. I am so thankful Dave was there to see us get married, meet our children, and even see us get baptized last Easter Sunday. I have to trust in the power of prayer, and find joy in all of the memories we've shared during these more difficult times.
All we can do is cherish our health, our time, our gifts, and our family. You never know when any of these things can be taken away. I know many of us know this, but I'm here with a simple reminder. Try hard to forgive as Christ forgives us and live as though there's no tomorrow. When you have the opportunity to live closer to family it is simply a blessing. Regardless, if your family lives close or far, always remember the“wholeness" it brings. It is a gift.
"Be joyful always, pray at all times, be thankful in all circumstances. This is what God wants from you in your life in union with Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
"Uninvited" by Lysa TerKeurst
Prayer by Lysa TerKerurst
In loving memory of Grandma Joan, Grandpa Steve, and Dave Piercy. They help make us whole. Rest in Peace.