As my mom was dying I disappointed my father and others by returning to Richmond after a few days of getting her settled in her hospital bed at home for her final days. It wasn’t a decision I made whimsically but was done in response to the need of my daughter, who was in the process of giving birth to the aforementioned baby Christian. It was a heart-wrenching decision, one I suspect even Solomon would have had to wrestle over. I did the best I could. I relied on the advice and feedback and expressed needs of the people I love and respect the most in all the world; me being me, I also listened and absorbed the words given to me by people whose values are very different from mine. Part of the hardest work I have ever done was forcing myself to focus on the voices that I knew came from a perspective of living and dying that fit my own core values rather than the sharp and loud voices of a family system that is in the habit of having each family member play their assigned part. None of this is anyone’s fault. No one is necessarily being bad or evil. Everyone is doing the best they can.
But in family systems that are created within the context of addiction and/or dysfunction, I have learned that the system itself – independent of the individuals in the system – lives to survive. (For more information on this fascinating topic, I refer you to a class called “Spirituality and the Dynamics of the Addicted Family System” by clicking here: http://www.nacr.org/families/addicted-family-systems.) This multi-generational system of dysfunction has as its main purpose survival of the system – not the family members. Not the family connection.
I’m going to unpack the implications of this as we go through the devotionals, but here is what I hope you will tattoo somewhere nice and conspicuous: family systems that are unhealthy rob the family of its joy, creativity, and capacity to thrive. If you, or someone you happen to marry (my husband is willing to speak on this topic), was brought up in a system like this – it is the SYSTEM that is messing with everyone. There is no need, no justification really, to demonize any one person in the system. Just for today, think about your family and give that some consideration. Oh, and Dale Ryan does a much better job teaching this and more in that class I mentioned above so do yourself a favor and listen to it.
To be continued….