How We’re Learning

By Muriel Gregory

Who is my sister?

The mood was light. The view outside the window was simply breathtaking. The clouds had cleared and we had an unobstructed view of the landscape. I was engaged in a pleasant conversation with the person seated to my right. In front of me, two people were eagerly discussing a book. On the other side, people were chiming in with comments. Down the hall a few persons were standing up and chatting away. The whole scene was serene and felt very familial in nature.

Except that it was not family. I was on an airplane flying back state side. Strangers sharing a destination and for a few hours, lives were linked.

What is family? In the stricter sense of the word family refers to the basic unit in society, usually spouses and children. It can also designate people living under one roof or people with a common ancestry.

Over the years, the military has introduced me to a more subtle yet significant sense of family.

Family has become the fellowship of people joined by a common interest. Many Thanksgivings have been celebrated with this new-found family. Around our table have gathered people from different ethnicities, sometimes languages, but a common stake. We have become family because we belong to the brotherhood of those who serve, the sisterhood of “home is where the military sends us.”

I am forever thankful for this unique family. Members are spread all over the world. Memories are as varied as the places we lived in. Yet this feeling of peaceful serenity was beheld every time. I am grateful for this new appreciation of what family is really about. A place where you belong, a core group united by certain conviction.

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.

Proverbs 18:24 (ESV)

Life can be hard: deployments extend, training schedules never end, children get sick, and washing machines quit working. In those difficult moments, I have always been able to call on a friend and find the much needed relief. The favor was returned whenever I was able. I have a few friends that stick closer than a sister. That is family. That brings me joy.

While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.

Matthew 12:46-50 (ESV)

Jews have always appreciated the importance and centrality of a strong family unit. The language in this passage would have been shocking to Jesus’ audience. Family relationships were very important in first-century Palestinian society. Yet in one simple statement Jesus clarifies what family is really about. He exposes us to the godly truth of true family: whoever does the will of God.

Military life has made it easier to accept this bold statement. I have experienced firsthand the beauty of non-blood relatives.

I love my earthly family fiercely, yet nothing can ever replace the incomparable privilege of being part of God’s family. When I decide to align my life with God’s will, I become Jesus’ sister. I do not know about you, but this simple thought gives me chills.

I am beyond grateful for this incomparable gift. The joy received from being part of this unique and diverse family prompts me to keep looking for the stranded travelers on this road called life. It readies me to welcome them in, serve them, and if the opportunity presents itself, invite them into my eternal family.

How To Be Thankful for “Family”:

  1. I would like to encourage you to keep your eyes and your heart open to the geographical orphans who live close to you.
  2. Invite them into your space.
  3. Welcome them into your life.

Your Turn:

What is family to you? Take some time and think about who your family is.

During this Thanksgiving season, remember to thank all people who have joined your “family.” Give the gift of family to those around you, I guarantee that you will receive more than you will give.


Father, I am so thankful for the gift of Your Son. I am grateful that through Him I have the gift of eternal life and the right to be called Your daughter. May I continue to live a life according to Your will. Amen.