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Question

 

Gramps,

I come from a very dysfunctional and toxic family.  I’m sincerely trying to love them and be forgiving but I honestly would rather keep them at a distance.  Thinking about having to be together forever with them sounds terrible.  Any advice?

Ember

 

Answer

 

Ember,

My heart goes out to you.

The first piece of advice I’d offer you is to ask the Lord through much study, pondering, fasting, & prayer if they truly are what the Lord would consider “toxic.”  The yardstick by which to measure that would be:

  1. Are they continually taking you further away from the Lord and His blessings than when you are by yourself?
  2. For every invitation they give you, do you find yourself closer to the Lord or further from Him?
  3. For every invitation they accept from you, do they find themselves closer to the Lord or further away?

I hope you know what the answers should be.

If it is a truly toxic family, then, yes, keep them at a distance.  But this is not an excuse to hate them.  They are not just your family.  They are children of God.  We always hope for the best.  But if their poison is more powerful than your spiritual reserves can handle, then by all means, keep yourself safe.

The Lord told us to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Doesn’t that mean that you need to love yourself in the first place?  It does.  Many people who lack love and compassion for others are also the people who lack charity and compassion for themselves.

The Lord also told us to remove the beam in our own eyes before we can remove the mote in our brother’s eye.  While this was referring directly to hypocrisy, I’d apply it differently to your situation.

If your spiritual reserves are too low, you cannot be the source of inspiration for others.  When you’ve gotten to a place/time in your life where your spirit is strong enough to “take the hits” from being with a toxic group that you’re supposed to help, then do your best to bring them around.  But always love them, hope the best for them, and pray for them.

 

Gramps

 

 

 

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