Tonight was pretty ugly in this house. (There's a shocker.) I don't want to get into the details of it because, the details don't really make a difference in the way I felt before and the way I feel now.
What matters is that I realized that I wouldn't change a single thing about my life. Even in the middle of all the ugly stuff in this house (and yes, I accept partial responsibility for it), I wouldn't change a thing.
My family life may be insane, but outside of that, I am surrounded by some absolutely incredible people. And I really don't think I'd trade better relationships with my mom and sisters if it meant I had to give up or even weaken relationships with the amazing friends that have found their way into my life. That probably sounds harsh, but honestly, it doesn't feel harsh to me. You wanna know why?
Because those friends? Those kind-hearted, loving, compassionate, protective, witty, blunt, honest, amazing friends? They are just as much my family, too. Family isn't just about blood or DNA. Family is about so much more than that to me. They're the family I chose for myself. They're the ones that fit what one expects the definition of "family" to be.
They're the family that I find myself relying on when things hurt, the ones I turn to vent to when I'm frustrated. They're the family that supports me when I'm at my weakest, instead of using my low points as ammunition to torture me later. They're the ones I always know I can lean on, the ones I know will always be there to call me out on my crap but do it from a place of love. They're the ones I feel like I can be myself with, unashamed of who I am both as God's child and just as myself.
Does it hurt my heart that there are people I met in Nashville a month ago that feel more like family to me than my actual blood relatives? Absolutely, of course it does. Because I know that's not the way things are "supposed to be." Your parents and siblings are "supposed to be" your safe place. But you know, when has my life ever fit the pattern of the way things were supposed to be?
I am a better person because of these friends. They challenge me to be better. God uses them to speak to me when there are things I'm just not "getting" on my own. They're honest with me, even when it hurts and it's not what I want to hear, but they're not shy about telling me my good qualities, either. They help me to keep my focus off of myself. They teach me a whole new understanding of Christ's love. They've helped me learn how to love myself again, and how to believe in myself.
So no, I wouldn't give these people up for anything, not even an easier family life. With God at my back and people who love me this much at my side, I feel like I can take on the world. Their words, their mere presence the past few years (and especially the past few months), has given me a whole new sense of courage, hope, and a determination to love. But most importantly, knowing, loving, and being loved by these angels has brought me a desire to get to know the Father that blessed me with them like never before.
And those gifts are the ones that can never be replaced or repaid.