It has come to my attention that I have been given a gift this year, but it was given to me early...
Like, 12 years ago, early.
But before I get to that, let me explain something about myself that not many of my new found friends know.
I was born into a Christian family- my father was a Pastor, and my mother was a devoted Pastor's wife. Through 25 years of drama (that's putting it mildly), pain (understatement of the millennium), and emotional abuse, my parents divorced the same year I got married. Everything went topsy turvy, but I was grateful to have my in-laws to hold on to. However, like I posted a few days ago, my in-laws have gone the way of the psychotic buffalo. What were we to do? We felt abandoned. We had no family to surround ourselves with.
Now, back to 12 years ago.
I met a girl named Erica, exactly 12 years ago this month. We were both signed up to play softball, and almost instantly, we became friends. Later on that year, she got herself a boyfriend whom I fell in total platonic, brother/sister love with. His name was Joseph, and he was something special.
Over the years, Erica and I played on school softball teams together, and just about every summer league out there. We went through everything. She was the one person I walked away from High School with, still hand in hand.
Erica was in my wedding in 2005.
When Erica married Joseph in 2008, I was there (15 weeks pregnant and all), standing witness to one of the most emotional ceremonies God has ever touched by hand.
This past January, I woke up in the middle of the night because I knew something that Erica didn't know. She was pregnant. I'm not sure how I knew, but on September 13, 2011, Josiah was born, and I wept for two days.
My whole point to this super long, probably annoyingly boring story? Well, in the midst of not having family, God gave us a gift: Erica and Joseph. I have always considered them family, but I never realized how soothing it was to have them in our life. They have blessed us with so many things. They have never given up on us, even when we felt there was no hope. Their unconditional support is something Rick and I have never understood. We look up to them. As a couple, they honor one another, respect each other, and treasure the time they spend together. We strive to be like them.
So, here's my thought for anyone who is struggling this Christmas season with loneliness or family abandonment issues... Look to the friends you have. Sometimes they are the gifts you've been given to fill the holes left behind by your blood-relatives.
Joe, Erica, and Josiah... Merry Christmas, my friends. I am so grateful, proud, blessed, and honored to have you in our lives. I pray that everyone has real friends like you, and that we may enrich your lives the way you have ours. And though I'll never admit to writing this in person, know that I mean every word of it.
Here's to50 more Christmases together...