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.”
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.
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