Pharisees In Your Family (#517)

It's one thing to separate yourself from a conformity-based institution that preys on guilt and obligation, but what if your parents, children, or siblings continue to carry that voice into your life and no longer respect you or your journey? Some families cut those off who don't conform to the family ethos, and others continue to try to manipulate them back in line with their expectations. Brad and Wayne add their thoughts to those facing this unique challenge, which can teach us how to live free and live loving when others don't make it easy. This also brings them into a discussion about the Beavers Scale of Family Functioning to help see the dynamics that create a healthy family life, and those that are destructive. It applies to faith communities as well as human families. And who can say that you that you can't be the first generation in their family who will help make family a delight instead of a hotbed of religious manipulation? (Painting above taken from A Man Like No Other. Used by Permission. All Rights Reserved.)

Podcast Notes:
Five Styles of Family Functioning
Sorry, Wayne's Blog on Conversations that Matter, which he referred to on this podcast has not been posted yet. When it is the link will appear her.
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  1. It’s a razor’s edge sometimes. Unfortunately, some family members have an agenda and it’s impossible to redirect that energy.

    I recently asked a family member not to talk with my children about hell, which was being used as a motivational tool. It has created a rift and I’m the one holding the line. This may be unpopular for some, yet I think the threat of hell is an abusive and unnecessary burden for both children and adults.

    Sometimes a family member’s insistence on imposing certain beliefs creates a rift. I don’t know how to get around that.

  2. Really appreciated the way you guys approached this subject, particularly the suggestions on processing our interaction and responses through the filter and means of grace. I suspect those in the places we left are experiencing what partly we found nauseating, namely feeling like everyone subtly (or not so subtly) suggesting they are better than others that don’t believe the right way/things, or don’t believe at all. You know…the old “we aren’t perfect”…but we are alot more perfect than you.

    I have been experiencing getting to know a much “fuller” God. This was tweaked in my thinking when you were discussing a God who gets comedy and laughter.

    So I heard a comedian speak of what it must have been like in Jesus’ household, growing up. You could just imagine Mary running around saying to the other siblings “Why can’t you be more like your brother?”

    I got rejected and shunned by the IC family I left and shunned (except for the many redeemed relationships with others that subsequently left). On top of that God has graciously led over time to several new “family members” where we’ve adopted each other in a spirit and atmosphere of acceptance and love (no need to qualify unconditional love….is there any other kind).


  3. People die two ways: fast and slow. ( e.g.: car accidents, cancer) Relationships can face the same method of death. I experienced a car crash in the relationship with my BFF. My journey as it is now is not compatible with how she believes a person “should” live out her faith. She must feel that who I have become is not the person she became friends with almost thirty years ago. But instead of us walking through her discomfort and disappointment, she ended it immediately. No explanation, no chance for me to explain. Over, Dead… no chance to revive the relationship.

    I am experiencing a slower death in the relationship with my sister. I am aware there is a cancer tearing at the relationship, however I believe she is in denial. She meets with me at family events but has avoided meeting with me to discuss our differences and our journeys. She knows we are on different roads, but the only time she has brought it up is with sarcasm and one line remarks with no room for response.

    Both women I have loved for most of my life. Both women live in the space where I used to live. The pain I have received from my former church families can’t compare with the pain I am experiencing with my sister and my BFF.

    I haven’t been a part of the same church as these two women for over 25 years… so our relationships were based on something entirely different than our church going status… and yet my lack of commitment to an organized system is becoming the death of those very relationships. And yet it isn’t enough for me to return. If I was to be totally honest with both of these women, I would tell them I have not arrived at spiritual perfection. Quite the opposite. This journey has been messy.

    I still listen to the God Journey because I hear contentment in the conversations. I know you have had more than your fair share of bumps in the road, but it sounds like you have reached a certain peace and contentment with where you are. I don’t know if I am on the right road, I just don’t know how to go back to the system and not feel like a hypocrite. And yet I still feel like I have abandoned something greater than just my distaste for the system.

    The only comfort I have is knowing the Jesus is not miles and miles away from me because of this decision… but he hasn’t left me. He still stays regardless of the messy condition of my life. I really don’t know what this is supposed to look like and I wish I could give my family the confident answers they are looking for… I just don’t have them.

    I am loved by my family and my friends. I know that and even thought my journey is something not totally understood by them, I know they love me. My decisions would not be painful for them if they had no love for me… so their pain is evidence of their love. Some of their choices and responses have been because of that pain. How can I blame them? I can only hope that one day we can love enough and find healing for those things that caused us pain.

  4. We listen to the podcast today with Dominique, and I found a lot of what happened to us in it. I like what Brad said about people caring for us, and we thought that the poeple who just let us go without asking anything, they just didn’t care ! And we realized long ago already that they were our “frineds” as long as we were doing the same thing, going to the same congregation etc.. As for family, when we left our congregation, my fathere didn’t want to talk to me for 6 months. And it was just as you said, becvause it was way too challenging for him. Because in their church, they had “the truth”, so it was also a failure for him not to have me understand that. Unfortunaltely, he was in the prison of his principles till the end 🙁 But I still could have some kind of relationship with him, loving him without judging. And I think he realized that I was not driftinh away, that I still loved Jesus, and our kids as well, so… hopefully he understood a little better how Papa was for him before he passed away
    And now that I have a white beard, and that I’m way much wiser, God helped me to love my parents, even if I hated their behavior (I’m not going into details) and that is what I told them. And now my mom understands that (I think, and hope) even if she still has a picture of a God who’s always looking at her with a stick, to correct her if something is wrong. And that way of seeing people further than their behavior is what I tend to. After all, it’s the way Papa sees us isn’t it ?

    Wayne, you can correct my English if needed.

  5. I will try not to write a book here… but the ladies email about family is something I have had much experience with. When I first came to the Lord before my senior year in college, I decided I did not want to express my faith in the denomination I had been raised in…My family of origin is Italian Catholic… I have an uncle that is a priest… so this was huge for my family… much like a Jewish person coming to Christ. My Dad ended up kicking me out of the house… I lost my family… my education( he ended up paying for me to finish)… it was a painful long process… and I learned much about forgiveness … By God’s grace I could work through all the pain without ever having one conversation with my Dad about this… as time went on… we both grew… we both changed… when my parents were 80… they moved near us… the next 10 years were the best I ever spent with my dad… we found our common ground… Jesus…and when he passed away with fall I spoke at his funeral… I could have never imagined this in my 30’s or 40’s… all this to say… if we allow God to change our hearts… to let Him heal the wounds… it give His Spirit more room for reconciliation ….
    I would like to say this is my only experience with family rejection… but about 8 years ago… it happened again… we were part of a “home church”… family(sister) and life long friends… Eight years ago, not by choice… we found ourselves outside the circle … It was probably one of the most painful experiences I had been through. This one cut very deep… but I can now say… I am thankful… through the dark, grueling process… I have found a freedom in Christ I now know I could not have found otherwise. Through this process… I finally saw the log… the huge tree trunk in my own eye… my ugly spiritual arrogance … it was heart breaking but heart freeing in the long run. Wayne talked about God’s humor… I remember one time I had to be at my parents and around people from that group… I was tiring of getting my heart ready to be around them… I gently heard God say… and your sister does the same thing to be around you… I didn’t find the humor in that at first… it was really offensive…but the next time I was wrestling… that thought brought a simile to my face… and I could actually pray for her as well. Things between us are much more “friendly” but there has not been reconciliation. I have come to believe God has only one target He wants me to shoot for… it’s no longer being right… being justified … having the wrong treatment acknowledged… but the bulls eye is love… walking in Love and Grace… if I am aiming there … all the rest will fall away. I have learned in both situations… actions and words from others can cut us deep and almost fatally wound us… but these people can never come and bring complete healing to this pain… my memory and theirs will never be the same… so even if they apologize it would never be enough… Jesus is the healer… and if we let Him heal the wound… than their is a real chance for reconciliation. I am sorry for your pain… I know He can bring beauty for ashes…Please let God show you your heart… places He wants to bring healing and change …. and let Him lead you with Love. I can give testimony… His Grace is truly sufficient.

  6. Such a helpful podcast in helping to deal with family and friends that are not appreciating when we are going in a different path.

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