Choosing Family

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will — to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. (Ephesians 1:4-6)

It's almost time.  The seasons are changing.  The decorations are on the shelves and the stores will soon be stuffed with shoppers getting ready for that momentous day.

Nope, not Christmas.  Not yet, anyways.  Couple more holidays to go before that.

And I'm not talking about All Hallow's Eve, either.  Those decorations have been on the shelves since July.  Everyone has their plan and their shopping done for that one (maybe).  The holiday to which I refer falls between these landmarks and is accompanied by the ever-awesome 4-day weekend we have all come to know and love.

I am speaking, of course, of Thanksgiving.

The "family" holiday.

You will try to tell me that Christmas and Easter are family holidays, but I beg to differ.  Those days belong to someone else (I preach about Him all the time).  But, Thanksgiving is a day that is associated with gathering the extended relatives, sitting around tables (and TV trays for those football fans) and relishing in the splendor that is FAMILY.

Do you know why it's a 4-day weekend?  For the most part, people need 3 days to recover from the FAMILY.  We love them.  We just don't want to spend so much time with them.  There's the uncle that wants to have a conversation about something that is obviously more important to him than anyone else.  There are the grandchildren that assume that noisy equals fun, so they make sure to fill your eardrums with their bloodcurdling squeals while doing laps around the room (regardless of how large or small that room is).  There is the person that literally sleeps sprawled on the couch after dinner, meaning that others have to stand in the corner.

Family.  Ahh, family.  And Thanksgiving will bring us all together.

So many resent our families.  We take them for granted.

Do you know who doesn't take family for granted?  Jordan.

Jordan is a girl that I met years ago.  I've changed her name, so that you can't scroll through my Facebook feed and pick her out.  But, if you could, you would see posts about how awesome her family is.  How she loves every waking moment she spends with them.  All the quirks that irritate me about my family, she treasures and celebrates.

She cherishes her family.  She is weird.

She is adopted.

And there it is.  What I take for granted, Jordan takes as grace.  She listens to the uncle droning on about something uninteresting and thinks, "I am part of a family."  She watches the kids running and squealing and sees beauty.  And that person sleeping on the couch after dinner?  She puts a blanket on them to help them feel comfortable.  

Because they are not family she was born into.  They are family she was chosen into.

When I read the book of Ephesians, I read words about "selection", "predestination" and "adoption".  I read about being brought into a church family that I should treasure and cherish, much as Jordan has demonstrated to me.  Sure, our church family may have some weird uncles and some kids running wild, but I am privileged to be a part of it.

I guess that's why Thanksgiving ends up being the "family" holiday.  Because I am grateful, not just for the family that I was born into, but for the family that I was chosen into.  I am thankful for every moment with them all.  I am thankful for the mercy that they have shown me though the years.

And I am thankful that God decided to say to me those three special words.  Three words that can change a person's situation for good.

I love you?


I choose you.

Welcome to the family.


Matt Monyhan

Matt Monyhan is the Lead Pastor of Real Family Church. He has been in ministry for almost 2 decades and is a husband and father of 2 sons.