I have a wonderful family, though I must admit up front that I understand it isn't like that for everyone. I am simply writing from my experience with family, which is perhaps one of the things that I value the most.
And why is the relationship with family members so special? Well, we connect immediately with each other, because we have something in common that is unchangeable. Even distant cousins still have that bond: Somewhere in there, we can trace our ancestry and find that we share blood.
Spending time with family, any part of the family, is awesome. Because of that instant sense of belonging, we can talk and get along just as if we see each other all the time. I recall meeting some of my dad's cousins for the first time when we visited Watsonville, and I was amazed by how easy it was to be around them.
There's also a vast amount of love to go around. I didn't even know it was possible to feel so strongly about a crowd of virtual strangers until I went to a Stayer family reunion. I barely knew any of those people, yet I was overwhelmed by how I loved them as soon as I met them. There we were, blood relatives and those who had married into the family, and somehow everything was familiar!
It is so beautiful to be drawn together like that, the powerful closeness of a shared past. We all have our differences, sure, but we love each other and can rely on each other when times get rough.
Similarly, it is possible to kindle a sense of family with your closest friends. After a while, you've had enough shared experiences that you are bound together by a deeper loyalty than otherwise would result simply from liking the same things and having a good time.
It's like that way in church, too. The church is a family into which we have been adopted, through the blood of Christ. This, too, is something that connects us instantly, because we are children of the same Father.
That's why I think it is so easy to form deep friendships with fellow Christians, to have that familial loyalty—we are part of the church through the same blood. It's probably how I've been blessed at Corban with wonderful friends that I'd only known a few months before feeling like I'd known them forever.
Just as I know that I can rely on my family members to be there for me, it is the same in my church. We're looking out for each other, willing to care for each other should the need arise.
Whatever form it takes, family brings such a special relationship because we belong to each other by something deeper than any surface-level commonalities or differences. We share something that no one can take away.