I’ve been seeing a lot of posts lately about living near family, and what a blessing it is to raise your children near cousins or grandparents or other family that love them to pieces and act as the backbone of your support system. And those posts are heartwarming and uplifting . . . for those who live near their families. But I’ve also noticed a lot of sad comments in response, from people estranged from their families or living at a distance due to careers or finances or even personal preference.
Some of us have been stationed far from our families by military careers, or other career opportunities that required relocation. Some of us are working in ministry and serving Jesus in other countries while our families pray for us from home. Some of us have to live within driving distance of the hospital that provides the care we so desperately need to win the battle for our health.
Some of us have family in multiple locations, and had to choose one knowing they’d hurt the feelings of the others. We hate knowing that. Some of us would love to move closer to our family, but aren’t in a place financially to find new jobs and a new home in a different city. Relocating is expensive, and requires coordinating several enormous moving pieces.
And frankly, some of us are living far from family for our own mental health. Perhaps we’re protecting our children from physical, mental, or emotional abuse. Maybe we can’t handle the stress levels of spending every day in the midst of so much family drama. Or maybe we just don’t want to.
Whatever our reasons, some of us don’t live near family. But our lives, and our children’s lives, are no less rich for it.
We’re blessed with the technology that allows us to see the faces and hear the voices of our loved ones every single day. We can FaceTime, Skype, and WhatsApp into the wee hours of the night, sharing every moment, feeling connected even on opposite sides of the world. We can capture photos and videos and share them with everyone, or just that special someone, with the tap of a button.
We enjoy our day-to-day with nearby family, but enjoy more special and unique memories with those far away. When we visit one another, we make every second count, drinking in life and more of it until we reluctantly pull away again, so full, so content, so refreshed, until the next time.
Our children will learn the deep bond and love of the family you choose, the friends and neighbors that we’ve accepted into both the best and the worst of our lives. They’re those friends whose visit you don’t fret over, for whom you don’t scrub toilets or mop floors, the ones who just walk in instead of knocking.
We’ll be forced to venture outside of the familiar relationships of our childhood, and to encounter a beautiful variety of people from different places and backgrounds and beliefs and colors. We’ll have the privilege of learning to blend together to create this perfect harmony despite our differences. We’ll see things from different points of view, things that might even change our own point of view.
We can find peace and acceptance in the midst of strained relationships, keeping the doors of communication open while distancing ourselves from abuse. Those of us that have spent our entire lives drowning in drama can learn to breathe in the quiet and calm that a little distance provides, and just be.
Our children will know the love of their family, both near and far, and will always hold dear the memories of time spent together. They won’t feel an empty space or lack in their lives. Quite the contrary.
Those of us living far from family? We’re doing just fine. Our lives may not look quite like what we envisioned years ago, but that doesn’t make them any less wonderful, and it doesn’t diminish the closeness and love and devotion of our family members one bit . . . no matter how many miles separate us.