(Duco Family, circa 2006)
Family has always been close to my heart.
I was blessed with a beautiful family – one which I can proudly say is of a certain kind. My college-level thesis moved around the concept of (guess what?)… family. My prayers for others often included families. The family, which we coin as the “smallest unit of society”, will always occupy a special portion in my heart.
My Nanay (mom) is a homemaker, while my Tatay (dad) used to be a seafarer. My father, Jimmy, passed away back in 1989. I am the youngest of four children. I have a brother and two sisters. All my siblings currently reside in the United States and have their own families. My brother, Jem, and my sister, Emily, are both Physical Therapists. Jill, on the other hand, worked as an Occupational Therapist. My mother, Lida, has just recently taken oath as a U.S. citizen. She usually stays with my siblings for a little more than a year, then she flies back to Manila to stay here for about a 5-month vacation. This has been our scenario since 2009.
While my heart could not help but rejoice when I remember how blessed I am with my family, I could also say that the Lord has used my own circumstances to humble me in so many levels. Probably, some of you know that I have been denied thrice at the U.S. Embassy. I also missed two job opportunities. With all honesty, I think I will not be used to getting denied of a Visa. There’s a unique kind of pain that comes alongside it every single time.
I have failed to go to my two sisters’ weddings, unable to attend children’s parties and most of our holiday celebrations, and incapable of caring for them when a member of the family gets hospitalized. I remember moments of deep pain where I end up with a seemingly blank stare and tears just flowed out of my eyes. Then, I’d keep sobbing and asking the Lord “why”. Why am I here? Why do You keep me here in the Philippines? Why am I in this kind of situation?
As I paused, prayed and processed, I learned so many things that have helped me press on up to this point. Let me share a few of them for all of us to ponder on:
- Brokenness is a necessary journey. In God’s Word, we see men and women who went through various episodes of pain, which the Lord has leveraged as opportunities to mold their character. Similarly, the Lord has allowed me to wrestle with Him on the area of family in order to keep me on my knees, to not trust in my own resources, to appreciate the beauty of His calling, to acknowledge that He makes things beautiful in His time, and to utterly look to Him with a posture of humility.
- To love the family is a daily choice. Our schedules could get very tight and keeping up with the differences in time zones could take its toll, but we need to be intentional in keeping a close connection with family. I keep on reminding myself that intimacy takes time and that love is a deliberate action. Thus, through social media and communication tools (i.e. FaceTime, Skype, Google Hangouts), we keep each other updated with what is happening in our lives and share what God is teaching us across the seasons that we all go through. Moments such as these are truly nothing short of amazing.
- Family is the best starting point for discipleship. While the rest of my family and I are unable to be together as much as we would love to, the Lord has enabled these circumstances to make our hearts grow warmer towards one another. Over the recent years, our family chats, phone calls, and e-mails have evolved into sharing our prayer requests, being authentic with what we think and feel, helping one another navigate through different and difficult transitions, exchanging lessons in ministry, and learning how to wisely deal with the questions that our little children in the family ask, especially queries about God.
My family will never be perfect, but I believe that ours is of a certain kind – only because the Lord is gracious and faithful. If left to my own decision-making, I could have simply grown bitter and resentful because of the circumstances that we are in. However, I have been affirmed that a certain kind of family is one that is anchored on God and His Word, one who loves as how Christ modeled love for us, and one that makes the home as the primary place for discipleship.
How about you? What lessons have you been gleaning from your journey with your own family? Feel free to write some of your thoughts on the comments section. I’d love to hear from you too.