Spiritual Adhesions: We AREN’T Family
The past day and a half have been hard.
Just when I think I’ve got God all figured out, I find out that I don’t. Seems that this is going to be a daily revelation for me for the rest of my life. When last I posted I was feeling all warm and fuzzy because I knew that the next area of healing was coming under deconstruction and I was happy that I was back at home to experience it. God had clued me in that he wanted to address some of my family issues and my attitude was a bit, “Been there/done that.” Doing the hind sight thing today? I’m 100% positive that I would have had a meltdown if I’d tried to walk this particular path anywhere other than the comfort of my own home. The noise and routine of the hospital would have pushed me over an edge and I just might have whacked my roommate with that bedpan. This way I could hole up in my cave and wait it out.
(duck and cover)
For some people just mentioning the word “family” is enough to set them off. I used to be like that. In some ways I still am. Can’t even clock in on how many hours I’ve spent in counseling talking about my family.
Now this is generally where I bring up all the bad stuff my family has done or that I judge them for doing or not doing. But God pulled me up short. There’s enough of that kind of talk in my earlier blogs if you’re interested. If I really want to let that particular dog chase its own tail, then I could. I could pull out all kinds of stuff to make you dislike my family… but it won’t get me anywhere. My family is not evil. Dysfunctional, yes. Evil, no.
I think it was while I was in the hospital that God started to challenge me to take my family out of the box.
Holidays have historically been bad for me ever since my days at Berkeley. When everybody was making plans to go home to be with family I’d be the lone sole trolling the halls of the dorm or my sorority. I had decided back then that my family was toxic and I needed to stay away. Twenty years of bitterness is a really heavy weight to carry. And since I have seven sisters and two brother (plus two half sisters, a stepbrother, and assorted foster siblings)… the bitterness gets multiplied by the number of bodies. With so many people there should have been some healthy relationship in the bunch.
Over the years I’ve put my family into a box with all my bitterness, resentment, anger, and whatever other gnarly emotions would fit in said box. Then I closed the lid and only opened the box to pull out bad memories to wave around during counseling sessions or ranting blog posts. In the hospital God put a novel thought on my hearty: I should start trying to find good memories of my family. Open the box and see that it wasn’t all bad. They aren’t all bad. For days I thought about it. When I posted about the spiritual adhesions, I knew the day was coming when I was going to have to open the box and try to find the good inside. I didn’t do it when I first got out of the hospital because I could use the “newly released patient” thing as an excuse. Then the days started to pass and I had to admit that I just didn’t want to do it. If I could find good memories of my family that meant they weren’t the evil people I make them out to be.
When people ask me about my family (which is often in Hawaii, family place that it is) depending on my mood, I say that I don’t have contact with my family OR I say that I don’t have family — that I’m alone in the world. People don’t seem to get how painful talking about family can be and what an emotionally charged topic it is. I especially hate when people try to tell me that my family loved me or that it couldn’t have been so bad. How could they possibly know this? They can’t. I’ve got scars people. Big scars. Maybe not physical, but definitely mental, emotional, and spiritual… and blaming my family has always been a lot easier than relating to them.
Now, here was Jesus telling me to look for the good in my family! Hadn’t he and I spent years dealing with all the stuff they’d done to mess me up?? Who caused most of these “spiritual adhesions” anyway?? Can’t I just leave well enough alone? I don’t hate them or damn them to hell anymore. I did all that prayer counseling back in September. I even left my home church — the closest thing to family that I have in order to be free of these final scars. Healing is SO close… why mess up everything by digging up the family? Especially at Christmas time??!! Keep the lid on the box!!!
There is only so long you can stall with Jesus. Sooner or later you have to decide to actually act or just outright disobey. So two nights ago I grabbed my notebook, turned off my laptop, and went to sit on my bed while I contemplated good memories of my family. The only way to be free of the scars caused by them, I believed, was to acknowledge the good memories and thank God for them… then I’d be able to let both the good and the bad memories go. I started writing down the obvious stuff. Then I drew a blank. I asked the Holy Spirit to remind me of other good memories. I was surprised by the stuff that came up. Each time my mind would run dry I’d pray and ask for more good memories. Most of those good memories were from when I was a kid in elementary school and then the memory well seemed to dry up.
Then, out of nowhere, I made an observation: the reason there weren’t more good memories after I started middle school was because I isolated myself from my family. I was old enough to decide that I hated the way that they treated me so I drew a line and stood behind it. That thought kinda put a strain on things the past day and a half for me. I’m still processing this because I know God’s not done with it yet. If it were done I’d feel it. So, for now, I content myself with writing about it. I know given the holidays that I’m not the only person dealing with family issues. My advice? If this is you, don’t be afraid to look in the box. Perhaps the only way to get past it is to walk through it.