In my blog this past week, I wrote about my family. The biological bloodline on my paternal side. Of course, I have a maternal family side, which happens to be loving and caring as well and on this side of the continent.

And then there is my “other” family - my lifelong friends. Facebook has changed the meaning of the word “friend” - how can someone have 857 friends?! And if you’re on Twitter, you have followers - really?! Jesus has followers.

These friends of mine who make up this family are spread out all over the globe and yet somehow we manage to stay close. Not turning into acquaintances - someone I knew in high school or college.

In this, my chosen family, there is no relationship by blood or even marriage. We are “related” because we want to be. We’ve known each other for so long - 30+ years - there is no pretending or putting on between us. Just being in the company of one another is enough.

According to the dictionary, a family is a group of people related by blood or marriage (it also says, “a group of people united in criminal activity”). I think there needs to be another definition:

fam-i-ly (noun) - 

1 [treated as sing. or pl.] precious, shared moments, kindness and grace, acceptance, keeping you humble and lifting you up, laughter, peace, heart, loyalty, friendship, love, chosen 

Whenever we are together, no matter how long it’s been, the conversations are as if there has been no real time apart. Our comfort level is not just because we have seen each other through three decades. It’s all the ways in which we have seen and understand each other.

Some in our circle have kids and some don’t. Those of us who don’t embrace the children as an aunt or uncle might with such ease; sometimes, the kids don’t realize we’re not really related.

We are well aware our chosen family is nothing to be taken for granted. We know how lucky we are to have each other and have each other’s back. We make memories and we make time to be together and share it all - the happy and the hurt - as if it were our own.

The criteria we used in choosing each other started out with common interests in books and movies and taste in music and lasted through marriages, divorces, births, deaths and crises, in which all it takes is a phone call and we’re there - choose to be there - for the other one.

Our friendships transcend professional status, politics and religion. We grew up together before those were important to us. It’s the emotional ties that bind this family.

Together we share stories, laughter, drinks, hikes, runs, the beach, the mountains, our homes, and much, much more. We share an intimate history that has been stretched and woven into the tapestry of our lives never to be separated.

I know these kinds of friendships must be nurtured with my time and energy lest life get in the way. That is why I will pick up the phone, send an email or a text message, write a letter, fill up the car with gas, or board the plane. Because I can’t imagine not. No regrets here.

I am fortunate to have the biological families God gave me. And, I am lucky to have the family I have chosen.