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The Non Parents

Relating to Aunts, Uncles, and Extended Family

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I am not a mom. The only babies I’ve parented are a yellow lab named Kalila, and a black shepherd mix named Shadow. They can be a handful, but there is no comparison between raising fur babies and the awesome task that men and women undertake as parents. I’ve witnessed both of my brothers become fathers and leaders in their homes, and my sisters-in-law are incredible mothers, patiently loving and learning as their families grow. I have also become increasingly aware of the influence that extended family members have on little ones. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins—whether related by blood or by choice—play a significant role in our lives.

We read about some very important extended family relationships in the Bible. God called Abraham to leave his relatives and set out for a new land in Genesis 12. However, his nephew Lot went with him, traveling and living with his Godly uncle. Two chapters later, it is Abraham who comes to Lot’s rescue after he had been captured. In Genesis 19, it is Uncle Abraham who intercedes for Lot’s life as Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed: “But God had listened to Abraham’s request and kept Lot safe, removing him from the disaster that engulfed the cities on the plain.” In Luke 1, a pair of unlikely cousins are chosen by God to mother and nurture the Savior of the world and the man who would prepare His way. The Bible says the angel assured Mary, telling her “your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age!” Its widely assumed that Mary and Elizabeth were cousins, but regardless of the technicalities of their relation, it is clear that God used these two women to comfort and encourage each other as they each took on an extraordinary responsibility. 

I think it is safe to say that Abraham’s faith and Elizabeth’s conviction were incredibly instrumental in the lives of Lot and Mary. They were older and wiser, and because of their own spiritual experiences were able to intercede and encourage their younger relatives on their journey. God has called me, by simple virtue of being an aunt, to be a resource of love, compassion, prayer, and encouragement to my nieces and nephews. In addition to being an extension of God’s love to our siblings and their spouses, I believe we are called to assist in the upbringing of their children.

One of the neatest things we have experienced as an extended family is seeing my niece, Mikaela, and my nephew, Diego, learn to pray before meals, a common practice in my home and my mom’s home, but less so in each of their homes. Soon, however, these toddlers were requesting that their parents stop and pray before eating. As their language skills develop, three-year-old Mikaela and two-year-old Diego are actually practicing leading out in prayer themselves. 

One day Mikaela and Diego will be teenagers and young adults. I pray that when that day comes, I can intercede for them with Abraham-like faith and that I can encourage them with the kindness of Elizabeth’s words, “You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what He said.” (Luke 1:44) My aunts and uncles (some related, some not) have been a blessing in my life. I know who to go to for a laugh, an honest opinion, or an intercessory prayer. My faith walk is not mine alone; it is an instrument that God intends to use for good in the lives of those He has blessed me with. Take inventory of your faith walk and your family, and see where God is calling you. 

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