Can I Disown My Family?
- Monday, September 10, 2012
Unfortunately, not all marriages succeed. So, God has provided the family to minister to our aloneness needs. Unfortunately, not all families are safe places. Yours certainly is not.
The third place God has designed needs to our meet our needs is the church. Fortunately, you have a great church. It is OK to leave your hurtful family behind and let the church become the family you never had. Unfortunately, not all churches are safe places.
It’s OK to Forgive Without Letting the People Who Hurt Us Back Into Our Lives
Unfortunately, I have ministered to too many children who were sexually abused by a step-dad who were forced by mom to remain in the same home as stepdad. I can’t imagine! But it happens too often. The abused child needs never to see stepdad again—ever.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean that we must pick up the relationship with the one who hurt us as if nothing ever happened. Something did happen—and it was bad. There are consequences. Sometimes that means a broken relationship which is never regained.
Forgiveness does not demand that we reenter an abusive or toxic relationship with an unrepentant offender. One of the big issues here is trust. Trust is rebuilt slowly and restored relationships usually occur a long time after trust is regained—and not before. We can forgive them and never see or talk to them again.
We can forgive without ever sharing with them how much they hurt us. After all, the soldiers hurt Christ a lot and He forgave them without ever telling them how much they were hurting him.
It is OK to factor in a little grace and forgiveness. After all, the way that our parents treat us is most likely the way that they were treated by their parents.
In the early 1980s Janet G. Woititz published a synopsis of many of the characteristics of adults who grew up in alcoholic families. Shortly after publishing her book, Adult Children of Alcoholics (Health Communications Inc., 1983), she discovered that many people with addictions, who grew up in strict and/or judgmental religious upbringings, who were adopted, who lived in foster care, or who grew up in other dysfunctional environments often exhibited the same adult problems as those whose parents were alcoholics.
“M”, I don’t know all of your family’s background but give them a little grace. Most likely they are passing on what they received. It is all they’ve have to pass on!
My family tree is full of alcoholics, drunk drivers, death, sclerosis of the liver, suicides, rebellion and even an abandoned child. Both of my grandfathers were alcoholics. My mother and father never drank, but every one around them did.
Personally, I always considered my family to be a good one—and in many ways it was. But, I never understood just how dysfunctional my family was until I read Woititz’s work and identified with many of the symptoms.
Now I understand that many of the dysfunctional characteristics she passed on were passed to her from her ancestors. Mom simply passed on what she was given.
According to Woititz, adults whose parents were alcoholics or who grew up in overwhelmingly dysfunctional families:
Guess at what normal behavior is;
Have difficulty following a project through from beginning to end;
Judge themselves without mercy;
Lie when it would be just as easy to tell the truth;
Have difficulty having fun;
Take themselves very seriously;
Have difficulty with intimate relationships;
Overreact to changes over which they have no control;
Constantly seek approval and affirmation;
Usually feel that they are different from other people;
Are super responsible or super irresponsible;
Are extremely loyal, even in the face of evidence that the loyalty is undeserved;
Are impulsive (they tend to spend an excessive amount of energy cleaning up their mess).
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