Sometimes I wonder where sayings come from. As an English major, the origin of different words, figures of speech and the like always fascinates me. There’s an old saying I’ve heard a lot lately, and I have to be honest. I really dislike it. We’ve all heard it at some point, I’m sure. “Blood runs thicker than water.”
Okay, the commonly understood meaning is that relationships with family go deeper, are stronger than those with friends. In all honesty, I have not always found this to be the case in my own life. Envy is an emotion I try at great lengths to avoid, but I have to say I envy those who have close relationships with their extended family, cousins, second cousins, and third. I used to see these family members once a year. Now I’m lucky if I see them in a decade. It saddens me, but geographical distance makes it hard to maintain a close-knit connection. This is one of the reasons I am grateful for social media. Although I do not see these relatives often, I feel as though I am part of their lives because I can send them a message, view their pictures, and be aware of what’s going on in their lives. I know that the bond will always be there, no matter how many years pass. So in this way, I get it.
In a literal sense, I’ve always found the “Blood is thicker…” saying odd because, well, yes, blood does technically “run” thicker than water but it makes me imagine someone who has water running through their veins, which makes absolutely no sense. So, recently I decided to research where the phrasing originated, and what I found was surprising.
The adage as we use it now comes from an old German proverb, however the original meaning more than likely has been lost. An older, Jewish version states:
“The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.”
Now this conveys something else entirely. My interpretation is that my relationship with God precedes my relationship with my family.
I understand the bonds of family. Believe me, I do. My parents have displayed their devotion to me in more ways than I can count, and when I look at my own children, they are literally little pieces of me running around outside my body. My oldest son recently visited my parents, who live over five hundred miles away, for a week. I felt as though part of my heart was missing.
There is nothing they could do that would make me not love them, and I understand God’s love more fully as a result of being a mom.
However… after moving cross country twice and living a great distance away from my immediate family for several years, I have discovered something: Your friends become your family.
It takes time. Boy, does it ever. Building trust with another person is not something which can be done overnight. But the women I’ve studied God’s word with, who’ve shared the trials and joyous moments of mothering with me, the family who was so close to us after our first big move that my oldest son began referring to them as “Aunt” and “Uncle”…. well, these people are my family. These bonds go deep. They go deep because they are eternal. These people will join me with my Heavenly Father one day.
I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty amazing.