Let me tell you a little about myself. I grew up in Dallas, Texas. My father was the associate paster of two megachurches in the area, and my mother, the pastor’s secretary.
I guess that made me a “preacher’s kid.”
Sadly, I found my worth in performance. In fact, it felt nice to be envied by other families. Many said they wanted to be just like us. We looked like the perfect Christian family.
Unfortunately, all of that “people pleasing” had a cost.
For many years I internalized all the anger and unforgiveness I had toward my parents for putting so much pressure on me to be perfect.
Actually, I wasn’t just angry. I was filled with hatred and bitterness. Slowly it ate away at my soul. I thought maybe after I left home, things would change, but it didn’t.
We were stuck in an unhealthy family system.
Sick of It All
In 2008, I became dangerously thin. Nothing I ate would digest properly. Over a short period of time, I lost thirty pounds. Many tests were done. The final diagnosis was Crohn’s disease. After another round of tests, the doctors wanted to take out my colon.
I would have to have a bag attached to the outside of my body for the rest of my life, an ileostomy. The doctor informed me it would be irreversible because of the extensive damage.
At this point, I decided I could no longer handle being a part of my family of origin.
I had stuffed all my emotions over the last forty years and could no longer control how I felt. The relationship with my parents had become toxic to me. I knew I had to get away. In 2009, my husband, children and I left my family of origin.
I became estranged.
We tried family counseling with my parents, but it was a disaster.
How does a family, who has been in ministry for thirty years, break apart? It happens more than you think.
For seven years I had no contact with my family of origin and most of the extended family. My kids lost cousins, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. It was embarrassing and hard to explain. I hated the situation, but I didn’t know how to fix it.
Leaving the Family
Leaving the family was not easy, but we felt it was necessary at the time. It was the right decision as my colon started to heal within the first year. During that time, God took me, my husband, and my kids on the journey of a lifetime.
I learned I did not have to be perfect. God loved me broken and imperfect. Sadly, being estranged turned out to be lonely and embarrassing. It was a shame-filled secret that was hard to explain.
After many years away, my husband and I felt God calling us back to my family. So many bridges had been burned that I thought it was impossible to go back. Since I couldn’t speak to my father, I decided to pray for God to speak to him in a dream. I fasted on a Tuesday and Wednesday (January of 2017), and my father called two days later–Friday. It had been seven years.
And the reason he called…God spoke to him in a dream.
Pretty miraculous after seven years of no talking!
This was not the only miracle. There were seven other miracles that happened over exactly a one-year period including remission from Crohn’s disease. (I tell about all of them in my book.) All I can say is that there is no explanation for this other than God.
Not many people leave and come back into their family of origin once they have walked away. There is too much damage done.
It wasn’t easy for any of us to swallow our pride. It took a lot of courage on all sides.
Of course, we would not have reconciled without the main ingredient-forgiveness.
It has been the key to everything. Our family is a testament to what God can do when there is no human way across a broken bridge.
If He can do it for us, He can do it for you.
Most of all, I would like to invite you to pray about your family situation. Ask God to show you what to do. Perhaps you need to fast to get a breakthrough. Many times, family conflict is a generational stronghold not easily broken.
I realize many of you may not be able to return to a toxic relationship, but God does require forgiveness. My book goes into great detail about how to forgive even the worst of offenses. God can work, whatever the situation, if you will allow Him to have complete access to your life. All things are possible when He takes charge.
Do You Have Family Problems? There is Help and Hope!
Are you experiencing family problems or even estranged? Are you feeling shame, anger, or rejection? Check out my book Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart on Amazon or at your favorite digital store.
This book not only talks about my seven-year estrangement from my Christian family, but it also gives solid tips to help you with your own family problems. Break free from your pain. Allow God to heal you no matter what has happened in your family of origin. There is hope when your family falls apart.
Creating Family Memories Book
Get Creating Family Memories. This book will help you manage your family in a way that allows more time to be intentional with your kids. It includes a schedule too. You can get it at your favorite bookstore.
Join the group Christian Family Living on Facebook
Continue the conversation on Facebook and join the group Christian Family Living. This is a place for Christian women to freely talk about parenting, marriage, faith, family, and culture. Being a Christian is hard! Let’s do it together. Most of all, a sense of humor is required. Got memes? Bring it on!
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