The Fractured Family -how to deal with a family rift or estrangement.

When you put yourself out there on the world wide web, you put yourself in the position of being judged. I’ve been thinking about how to handle being misunderstood to help me cope with inescapable judgment. Within relationships, misunderstanding can happen very quickly. 

Holistic living

In his blog, Ryan Frederick points out that you must find your identity & security only in Christ when misunderstood. The following is a quote from his blog to help you get started with this idea.

“Christ understands you. He sees you from afar (Psalm 138:6), he designed and crafted you from within (Psalm 139:13-14), and he knows what it’s like to be human and to be tested (Hebrews 4:15). I hope this doesn’t roll off your back as a cliche. You are KNOWN. This is the first point because the rest will flow from this. If you know who you are in Christ, you can proceed with that knowledge and his perspective in mind. For example, maybe “being right” isn’t important at this moment. Maybe you just need to extend grace because your spouse hurting or not in a place to be corrected.” 

Although Ryan refers to his idea of marriage, it is also relevant across the broad spectrum of relationships, and we can learn from this. As you know, I hold that holistic living is the way to bring wholeness to your everyday living AS God intended. To make Christ, the centre of your life feeds your spirit. Your mind is calmed and brought hope and peace, then your body responds. 

There have been times that I had shrunk away from God when in times of turmoil until a wake-up call thought enters my head! And it went something like this….

 ……you are rejecting me when things go wrong. This shows you are laying the blame squarely on me- isn’t that what others have done to you? So, why play the blame game- it gets you nowhere and will estrange you from me….

 Well, I have to say that it certainly woke me up! I realised I was feeling sorry for myself and had to snap out of it!!

So, What did I do next?

Forgiving (the holistic spirit)

 I knelt in prayer, asking God in Christ to forgive me for withdrawing from his presence. I asked for forgiveness for any part that I played in the problem. I asked for wisdom (which I need tons of!) to work through the situation with grace and love, and kindness. I asked the person for forgiveness and offered to talk it through; they refused to accept it and wanted to keep the drama playing. I was powerless to change that, so I prayed again- this time, it was a blessing on those who misunderstood me, thus rejecting me. I asked God for the strength to let go and let God.

I know I have written extensively about forgiveness in the past, but I think we all need a reminder to ensure that we do apply forgiveness. It’s far too easy to be so emotionally involved in our hurt feeling that our hard heart will not reach out to forgive. Forgiveness applies to us as well. Forgive yourself. Forgive others.

Pay it no mind (the holistic mind)

In 1 Corinthians 13, the “love chapter,” we have a list of love’s attributes. Included in the description of love are some things that love is not. Verse 5 says that ‘love keeps no record of wrongs.’ Or, as the Amplified Bible translates it, “It takes no account of the evil done to it, in other words – it pays no attention to a suffered wrong.” If you say you forgive, but keep the offence at the fore front, throwing back details into the person’s face- let’s get real here- You have not forgiven! True forgiveness pays no mind; it keeps no record of wrongs. 

Stop digging holes (the holistic body)

This is what I am guilty of, and the situation is always made worse. I try to rescue the situation, and the more I try, the deeper the dark hole gets! Soon I have dug so deep that I can’t see over the rim. I have buried myself in all the turmoil and hurt!

Sound familiar?

 Well, I think if you are a rescuer or fixer, you can relate. But this is the best thing to do or even the right thing. We must learn when it’s time to quit. Surrender the situation to God. To leave the person who says you have offended them to their own emotions and choices. It is time to cement that hole over and don’t go there again. It’s time to take a breath of fresh air and start again. Accept when the situation cannot be rescued by you. If you wish to, leave the door open for the person who has misunderstood you. If they genuinely love you, they will want reconciliation as much as you.

Concentrate on those who genuinely care for you!

Families who fall out forever is more common than you think. For many people, family is the centrepiece of their life. It’s where we gain a massive aspect of our identity, find comfort and support, unconditional acceptance, and a sense of belonging.

But for those who are estranged from their families, the family unit may become threatening and not feel as safe or nurturing. Social worker and academic Dr Kylie Agllias have been researching family estrangements and how they impact us. Dr Kylie Agllias research shows that one in 25 Australian adults has been estranged from their family at some time in their lives. She says that family estrangements occur when there is a breakdown of trust, emotional intimacy, and strong, contrasting values. 

Statics show that family estrangements are defined as the loss of affection within a family in the UK. It isn’t clear if such estrangement is on the rise since it is a relatively young field of research. Research by Stand Alone, a UK charity supporting people who are estranged from relatives, suggests that estrangement affects at least one in five British families

One United States of America study of more than 2,000 mother-child pairs found that 10% of mothers were currently estranged from at least one adult child. And one U.S. study found that more than 40% of participants had experienced family estrangement at some point – suggesting that in certain groups, such as U.S. college students, estrangement may be almost as common as divorce. Sound like an epidemic, doesn’t it? 

I am sure the statics are similar across the world. It is a sad situation but one that is very real. If you have been misunderstood and estranged from your family, be assured that you are not estranged from Gods family and you are not alone, and there is a lot of help to be found if you research and look for it. 

Who Loves You?

Those who genuinely love and care for you may not be your family. Friends are great because there is no history of offence with them. Unless you have grown up with them, you have a clean slate to build a relationship. Appreciate them and keep in contact with those people. I have lots of lovely friends. I have found a unique relationship with each of my friends. With each one, we talk about different things and enjoy various activities that are pretty different. The friendship develops around the common ground, which must be nurtured to grow.

Being misunderstood causes your inner gut to twist and turn to make you feel physically sick. This is your body reacting to your emotional mind. You must care for your body. Don’t bash it with alcohol or overload it with sugar or late nights out. Nurture and care for your body with good food and passive exercise. Your body is the house your life in. Over time through turmoil, we forget about our bodily needs. When upset, I tend to stop eating and work from sunup to sundown. However, I am learning to do things differently. I look at my body like I look upon my two dogs. They are helpless without me. Whether I feel like it or not, I must feed them, walk them, and stroke and groom them. I must provide a safe and enjoyable environment for them. Do the same for your body. 

Whether you feel like it or not, provide a safe and enjoyable environment for yourself. Feed your body well with natural foods, exercise it, groom it, care for it whether you feel like it or not – this is the only one you have! Your emotions can make you sick if you do not righty care for your body. I use many tools to help me with this, and in posts to come, I will share them with you. 

If you are interested to learn how to care for yourself mindfully, purchase my new course at a special discount launch price in Late July 2021 on Udemy. 

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Virtual hugs, I look forward to your visit to my next blog post!

Paula Rose Parish