Last week a post on Facebook caught my eye. It was this picture of my sweet friend Holly at dinner with her in-laws. I noticed it because of the caption, Dinner with the in -LOVES to celebrate a retirement and bday! Blessed!
Ummm, when I say noticed, what I really mean is, it was more like a punch in the gut.
This isn’t how I talk about my in-laws. It’s not that I don’t love them or that I speak poorly about them. It’s certainly not that they aren’t amazing, wonderful people. They are. All of them. They are generous, kind and fun. They raised my husband to be the incredible man that he is and loved him so well. They taught him values that will live on through my children and all the generations to come. They love my kids and enjoy spending time with them. They love me. They’ve shown me consistent grace and generosity since the day we met.
It’s just that over the years, they’ve become my second family. They’ve become the part of my family that isn’t really my family. You know, the one’s we arrange holidays around and schedule visits to. They don’t really know me the way my own family knows me.
We all live in different towns. We see each other on holidays, special occasions and family vacations. They only know the me that shows up when 11 people are crammed into one house around an event. We’re together when kids are running wild and emotions are heightened.
Let’s just say that they don’t get the best version of me.
In fact, of all the people in my life, they probably get the most self-focused, stressed and unhappy version of me there is. It isn’t their fault. It’s entirely mine.
I’d like to say that isn’t who I am, but sadly, it is who I chose to be around them. I don’t want to. I want to be more giving, loving, kind and fun when I am with them, but I’m not.
When I saw Holly’s post, it hit me in a weak spot, one of my weakest spots.
I realize it might seem odd that I’d actually say this out loud to you and post if for the world to see, knowing that my in-laws might read it. I am a little odd that way, but more than that, I’m a huge believer that we won’t change the things we won’t talk about.
And I can’t shake this feeling that I’m not alone.
What if by talking about it we could help each other? What if we held each other accountable, before holidays, vacations, and weekend visits, to show more love to the ones it’s easy to skip over?
It’s easy to write them off as the in-laws, as if it’s a free pass to not try as hard, because they aren’t our real family and tension is part of the deal.
But what if we didn’t?
What if, like Holly, we take ownership and shift the language we use? What if we start, in our own hearts today, to think of them with the tender affection of calling them the in-loves?
Try it. It might feel strange at first, but most good things do.
What if we begin to hold them in even higher regard than everyone else in our lives simply because of the family they’ve given us. What if we do it no matter how they treat us in return?
We could start a revolution of love within our own families, that’s what.
So here’s to all the In-Loves out there!
Here’s to my In-Loves.
Rick, Janice, Jen, Harris, Avery, Sutton, and Jude, I’m so grateful you’re my family. You are my In-Loves. I’m sorry I often give you only the worst of me. I want to do better. I’m working on my heart, and my attitude. 😉
I love you.
P.S. What about you? Will you join me today by simply shifting your thinking from your in-laws to your In-Loves? Let me know in the comments.
And if you don’t have in-laws, think about who you could love better today. It could be a friend, the checker at the store, the teller at the bank, the mail carrier . . . there are a lot of people in our lives it’s easy to look over. They all need a little more love and kindness.