Defining Family

It’s Narcissist Friday!

Family is overrated.

Wow! I can’t tell you how hard it is for me to let that statement stand. I love my family. I respect my parents and all those who went before them. I want my family always to be strong and loving and present. I can’t imagine life without my family. There are no people I would rather spend time with than my wife and sons and grandkids.

But I know that isn’t true for many people. For many, family is a source of pain. Usually, it is just one or two members of the family. Sometimes it seems to be the whole group. I may not have experienced that pain, but I understand it and believe it. So, to them, I have to say:

Family is overrated.

But what about honoring your parents? What about your responsibility to brothers and sisters? What about caring for your children? The church has always taught that family comes first.

Or does it? Has the church always taught that? Does the Bible teach it? I am not so sure.

Yes, the Bible does tell us to honor our parents. But it does not say just what that looks like. It is not docile acceptance of anything they do or say. Nor is it blind obedience. It must be something more. I have written my thoughts on this:

I believe that I honor my parents when I become a healthy, functioning adult and when I am able to pass that health on to my children or to use that health to bless the people around me.  It does not honor them for me to continue their brokenness through my life.  Even if they don’t see the need for me to be a person separate from them, I still must be able to establish and maintain boundaries, own and value my feelings, make independent decisions, and learn to share myself as a real person with others.  If through their narcissism, my parents have dishonored themselves, I honor them best by finding a way to break the evil patterns in my life and in the lives of those who follow me.

And what does the Bible say about brothers and sisters? Well, for one thing, the definition is much broader than simply those raised by the same parents. The church is supposed to be made up of brothers and sisters in Christ. The Jews considered all other Jews to be their family. Almost all references to brothers and sisters have this larger context in the Bible.

Even Jesus saw family differently. Remember what He said?

While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him. Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.” But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and 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

Understand this. The birth family of Jesus expected special access to Him. The disciples expected that they would have special access and privileges. Jesus makes it clear that they have the same access to Him as all the rest of those who love Him. He isn’t closed to His birth family, but He loves them in the same way He loves others.

Okay, so that’s Jesus. He was a special case, right? I don’t think that’s what we are to take from this. I think we should understand that the Christian’s love includes many family members.

I happen to think that the mother of Jesus was a very special person. I think she loved her Son and He loved her. Nothing of that is lessened in this statement. Instead, love for others is lifted up. We are taught about the oneness we should all share in Him.

When I say that family is over-rated, I mean by the traditional church. For some reason, we have been taught that we never leave our families. We never move beyond the power and privilege of that connection. Yet, the Bible says that we leave our parents when we marry. The tradition of the Jews may have kept unmarried people at home, but it was not required in the Bible. Abraham left his family. Moses left his family. God called them away from their “family responsibilities.” But He didn’t take them out of loving relationships. Abraham’s family consisted of those who worked with him. Moses met a new family far away from Egypt. They didn’t forget or neglect their birth families, but they connected with others.

Family, in the Bible, is not limited to those raised in the same home or parented by the same people. Family refers to all those we share life with. Sometimes the group at work is family. Sometimes those who live in the building become family. Sometimes people at church become family. We love them, fight with them, work with them, complain to them, suffer with them.

So, when the narcissist says you are supposed to have a special love for your birth family or that they should have special access to you and to your heart, remember what Jesus said. When the narcissist complains about the time you spend with others and how it reduces your service to her, remember what Jesus said. When the narcissist demands your obedience, remember what Jesus said.

“Whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”

Maybe the truth is that family is under-rated.

*****

Apparently the audio file is not included in the email of this post. It may be too large or email filters might not let it through. If you would like to listen to the audio version of the post, you will find it on the blog site.

*****

7 Comments

Filed under Narcissism, Uncategorized

7 responses to “Defining Family

  1. Jeff

    Used to be envious of others who came from families that were not steeped in toxicity but came to realize it was a waste of energy, just like the diseased thinking my “family” implanted in me at a very young age. Lost a lot of years to pain and unconscious self sabotage because of it. A narcissistic and abusive “mother” and “brother” and a father who was their enabler while heaping guilt on me for acting out because i was also subjected to childhood sexual and emotional abuse that literally stole my young innocent soul. Growing up in a gang neighborhood while they bought a property in an exclusive area gave me many negative outlets to vent a rage that was well hidden from the world. The result of my eventual and decades late “awakening” is that I don’t trust anybody but my wife who also was the victim of a traumatic childhood and keep others walled off because it is the only safe place I have found.

    My father is hopefully in hell waiting for his wife and oldest son. They are still unfortunately among the living, thriving, playing their sick games and using everyone in their path “living the life they so richly deserve” while hiding their true nature behind the mirages they created. I gave up asking God to intervene realizing that He does not prevent the evil that some do in this life. Will just have to continue to “live my little life” as my “father” put it a few years before passing away and rest in the belief that they will eventually get what they have coming if there is a righteous God running the show.

  2. Z

    Jeff,
    My heart breaks to read your comment. Because I understand it all too well. You are right, all the evildoers will reap what they have sown. But it’s hard to watch them seem to “prosper” on earth. And to wait until eternity to see justice done.
    I find solace in Psalm 73-especially verses 17-20 and verses 23-26. The psalmist asked the same questions we ask when we see our evil tormentors (mine were my whole toxic, criminally violent, physically abusive family-falsely professing “Christians”-who abused me in every way from my childhood through my adulthood until I went No Contact). The psalmist sought God in verse 17. Then he discerned the wicked’s END. And later he discerned the END of the righteous in Christ. God Himself will take us into eternal glory! That’s the only way this life of abuses makes sense. The wicked will not get away with their evil. No matter how saintly they falsely portray themselves with their finely honed “act” to the outside world.
    The foundations of God’s throne are Righteousness and Justice!! He will avenge the evil done to us. I pray you find peace in Jesus.

    • Jeff

      Thank you for steering me in the direction of healing and redemption. I remember reading some of your posts months back and you were definitely going thru it yourself. Happy to see that you have come to a place of acceptance with hope.

      Not many understand the meaning of “being brainwashed” to the degree that we have. I was involved with a Pastor/Psychologist 15 years ago after coming out of extreme self sabotage and darkness before knowing how sick the situation really is. Had told him the gist of my family experience and he told me “to just love my father and mother.” That fed the guilt lived in since early childhood and kept me emotionally sick and vulnerable for another decade. Been some hard learned lessons. Now just trying to figure out how to navigate the cesspool without any more of it getting on me because unfortunately (or some might say fortunately from the outside looking in) I am taking care of the family holdings keeping my “mother” “in the life she so richly deserves” with the hope of a hard won inheritance. Have always been of service to their polluted priorities. Wish I could go no contact but have too much skin in the game and if I walk away, my narcissistic “brother” who molested me would get everything. Have gone no contact with him after confronting him a few years ago where he denied everything and made me out like I am crazy. He and my “mother” are masters at gaslighting.

      Is it going to be worth it? The short answer is NO. Would have much rather had my own identity in a “normal” family but it is what it is. Am hoping to along with my wife, work with abused children one day. That’s the only way I can make sense of it all or bring some good out of it.

      Take care and remain sane.

      • Z

        Hi Jeff,
        I pray you keep your sanity as well through what seems to be a no-win situation for you. I truly understand the damage and evil families can do to the one who has the right heart, the kindness, the honorable intentions..They smell blood in the weather like sharks and pounce. They mistake our good hearts and wanting to please God as “weakness” and they gang up on their target. I had to walk away from all wills and inheritances when I went No Contact. For me, it was worth never having to deal with any of them again.
        And it’s telling that you want to work with abused kids. To use your pain and turn it into a purpose. Let God redeem that pain and suffering and bring about good for those kids who you will understand in a way a person who hasn’t experienced these abuses can’t. It is what my long career was! I taught teens with behavior disorders for decades. Almost all came from abusive homes. What a rewarding career it was! God gifted me the skills and understanding and compassion for those kids that no other teachers had. These kids were the most hated by the other teachers and administrators. The “troublemakers” never given a chance. I gave them a chance to behave differently. And they almost all thrived. Many came back to visit me years after they graduated, married, went into the service, had children…to tell me I made a difference in their lives. No better reward than that! God does redeem our pain and make something beautiful from our ashes. It was very healing for me too! But well after that long, happy career, when I had minimal contact to almost no contact (many boundaries of separation needed) with my still-abusive family, the planned, violent weapon attack by them on me and my husband happened and I broke off all contact permanently for our safety. I do hope you pursue your wish to work with abused kids. You won’t regret it. May the Lord lead you in the way you should go.

      • Z

        Jeff, I forgot to add that 3 1/2 years after the violent attack on us by my family, I may be at a better place of acceptance. But believe me, I am struggling mightily with CPTSD and severe anxiety. I’ll probably never get over the demonic faces and voices of hatred and evil I saw and heard from my family members that violent night. I always KNEW what they were from a young age. Abusers. Criminals in so many “schemes and frauds”, perverts,..I knew right from wrong and, thank God, never enmeshed myself with them. I detached and distanced myself until I could get out of that house of horrors. My siblings, sadly, did overly enmesh with their abusers and now are adult codependents of the worst kind. Abusers themselves or abuse enablers. All who like the abusive parents falsely profess to be “christians”! Not possible. But my detachment and rejection of their evil is what made me a lifetime target of all of them. So I still suffer greatly after learning the depth of the depravity and demonic activity I saw that last night when the attack happened. That I even associated minimally with such demonic people makes me sick. I’m having the hardest time not beating myself up for keeping a minimal “DNA tie” with them out of false obligation. And wrong, false teaching by church people. As lonely as No Contact with all relatives is, I’m so glad to be free from ungodly soul ties and bondage. Jesus is my strength and best friend!

  3. Felicity

    Thankyou for this I really needed to hear this. After reading your post on reflection I felt God say that my narcissist mother is not my responsibility. (She’s in a nursing home now but fully functional and the narcissism is worse) After doing everything for her selling properties finding the best care 8 months of pure stress she has been vile to me. I’ve organised for her to change her Will as on the current Will she has placed 3 men on it as executors to control everything on my behalf til I die. One of the men was sexually inappropriate with me as a child, he’s an ex boyfriend of hers. She knows I despise him naturally but she placed him on there so I would likely not ‘spend her money’ as I wouldn’t want to communicate with him.
    She will no doubt make the next Will more prohibitive but I do have a lawyer on my side this time. I cannot believe how evil she’s been to me all my life. But I don’t see my self worth in her Praise God I know to not seek that from unworthy people.
    THANKYOU for your blog it’s been incredible source of support and understanding

  4. With my third counselor, I parroted something my father often said, “It’s the way she is. You gotta love her.” My counselor promptly said, “No, you don’t.” “But God said to love everyone.” “He did, but He also said that if you refuse to repent you will not be with Him. It doesn’t mean He loves you less. He practices healthy boundaries.” What a concept. It was such a relief to not have to love my mother. I could simply give her to God, every day. As I gave her to God, every day, she had less control. Rabbi Daniel Lapin explained that “honoring” your father meant you didn’t deliberately humiliate them; it also didn’t mean that you followed the evil path they set. Thanks for the expanded perspective.

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