In two weeks, together with more than twenty people, I will go on a weekend retreat at The Friars, a monastery near Aylesford. Since the topic of the retreat is the very interesting subject of "identity", I thought that I could devote some posts of the blog to it.
In this second post I would talk about family.
We are all born into a family, or at least most of us are. Putting aside those exceptions, we all begin our lives in close relationship with very few but relevant people. These people are our family and, specially in our early years, almost completely saturate our meaningful univereses. It is easy to see then why they are so influential regarding our identity. At the start of our lives, we don't know who we are. We need to learn it, slowly, across all our years. At the same time, even when we are so young that we are beginning to learn who we are and who we can become, during this very time, we still need to have a view of ourselves. And, since we have none, but are in need of one, we borrow it from our surroundings. And remember, our surroundings are saturated by our family. Consequengly, we come to view ourselves as our family does, and, in many aspects, we tend to grow up according to this view.
Summary: identity and family are very related: we tend to view ourselves as our family does.
Let me talk now a little about my growing up, about my family. To me, being born into a family meant that I was born into a place where my mere existence was a motive of joy. And you can relax into this joy. From it I grew up as a happy and confident kid. And a very lucky kid indeed. Not only I had (and have) loving parents and a brother, but I also had (and have) an extended but very close family of cousins, aunties, uncles and grandparents, a family that always made me feel very welcomed. I am quite certain that this contributed a lot about I growing up with a positive and trustful view of life. Finally, I also want to say that my family was the place where I first learned what is to take care of another. And this seems to me quite important to remember.
Family: a place where I am always welcomed, where I am a motive of joy, and where I learn to love.
After all I wrote here, I hope that the relevance and influence of the family on everyone's personal identity is quite clear. What is more, having a loving family helps you to have a better and happier life. This may seems trivial to say, but what seems trivial for some people is not trivial for other people. Some might even claim that an un-loving family makes you good because prepares you for the hardness of life. In fact the opposite is true, the hardness of life is better faced having experienced love!
As always, I have many more things to say about family, specially in its relation to Christ, the Church, and our neighbours, but these will need to wait until another day. My blessing to you all, and don't forget to comment, if you wish!