Thursday, August 18, 2005

Thoughts On The Meaning of Family

If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.
George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950)

In the wake of my Declaration of Independence from my family of origin, I have been faced with the question of just what defines the nature of the family.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines family this way:


1. A fundamental social group in society typically consisting of one or two parents and their children.
2. Two or more people who share goals and values, have long-term commitments to one another, and reside usually in the same dwelling place.
a. All the members of a household under one roof.
b. A group of persons sharing common ancestry.
c. Lineage, especially distinguished lineage.
d. A locally independent organized crime unit, as of the Cosa Nostra.
1. A group of like things; a class.
2. A group of individuals derived from a common stock: the family of human beings.

As an aside, I find it interesting that the dictionary includes in its definition, a larger group involved in shady doings, and requiring loyalty from its members. Sounds very familiar to me.

In the bible, the fourth in the ten commandments given to Israel by God states:

12 "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. Exodus 20:12 (NIV)

This is the basic rule from where we start. There are exceptions however, specifically if the family leads a member into disobedience of God, or otherwise blocks the person's relationship with Him, to whom the primary loyalty lies.

Jesus warned his disciples of the potential cost of choosing to follow him, and predicted the fallout that would occur in many families. I think that he wanted to impress upon them the magnitude of the commitment they were making to him. Making this choice, one may be required to part with loved ones, in order to follow him down the "narrow road". He has this to say:

"51Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. 52From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. 53They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law." Luke 12:51-53 (NIV)

The theologian John Calvin addressed the issue of the fourth commandment in his work entitled: Institutes of the Christian Religion. He has this to say regarding exemption from the usual way of following this commandment:

But we also ought in passing to note that we are bidden to obey our parents only "in the Lord" [ Ephesians 6:1]. This is apparent from the principle already laid down. For they sit in that place to which they have been advanced by the Lord, who shares with them a part of his honor. Therefore, the submission paid to them ought to be a step toward honoring that highest Father. Hence, if they spur us to transgress the law, we have a perfect right to regard them not as parents, but as strangers who are trying to lead us away from obedience to our true Father. So should we act toward princes, lords, and every kind of superiors. It is unworthy and absurd for their eminence so to prevail as to pull down the loftiness of God. On the contrary, their eminence depends upon God's loftiness and ought to lead us to it

.John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion
Book One page 404

All of this having been said, I am at this time compelled to reconfigure my paradigm regarding the meaning of "family". The place where I start is me, my husband, our four children, two cats, and one dog. This is the basic family unit that I live with and am committed to. Even though these relationships are loving and committed ones, they don't fill the void left by the loss of my own extended family, so I am forced to think outside the box.

First a couple of thoughts on the nature of family:

Family isn't about whose blood you have. It's about who you care about.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone, South Park, Ike's Wee Wee, 1998

The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other's life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.
Richard Bach, Illusions [1977]

The last couple of days have been ones where many people have professed love, caring, encouragement, admonishment and committment to me. Many have been fervently praying on my behalf, holding me up when I had no more strength to stand. They have stood by me, have seen my integrity, and have chosen to believe things that I testify to, things that almost unbelievable, just because they know me. They know my heart, and my soul, and can see that I seek truth above all things, and follow God wherever He leads even if the path seems at times unbearable.

So, I wanted to honor these special people, stretch my definition of "family" and choose these wonderful people as my family. They are a healing balm which fills the aching void.
Here are just some of the things that people have said to me, which have given me hope, and strength to continue on.

**The Lord showed me some things about your situation yesterday while I was
reading your post and responding to it.
You are under a huge spiritual attack. I can see it. But, be assured ... it
really is lifting. You're on the verge of a major spiritual breakthrough...

**Don't you give up. Don't you do it. Just don't you do that. I know how you feel.
Exactly how you feel. I really do... because I've been there and I don't know
but that I won't be there again. I've lost everything I've owned before..
literally. Everything I worked for -

**you know ... you really can choose your family.. choose a new one. I volunteer to be your family, I feel like I already am.

**Severina, you can't help anyone if you don't
have YOU.
With "you gone" ... what'll that do to everyone that loves you and is pulling
for you? I'll bet you don't even know what that would do to ME, do ya? I'll tell
you this much, I haven't known you very long but I care about you more than you
know and it would definitely do something to me. For the long term. So don't you
give up.
Get mad Severina. Get mad at them and stay mad. Do whatever you have to do, but
don't give up, my friend.
You can come up here. We've got room for you. You have options. You belong
to God, Severina and so... you have options. And THAT's another fact. He didn't
bring you this far to sit back and watch you go under.

**You can't pray it away alone... I do know that you can't do that alone... so
I'm praying with you and for you.

**You're going to get through this. I know that God has an interest in you and
some work you're about to do. Has to do with work you're already doing. I
think of the verse where David says he wouldn't offer Him a gift that cost
him nothing. And what a cost to you this is. It means more to God when it
costs us something. Even everything. And I feel that this is costing you
everything at this time. Everything is what He wants from us.

**I pray in the Name of my Lord Jesus Christ the Son of the Most High God....
Peace to you Severina. Peace.

**I really wanted to write you for a couple of reasons. First, to hold your arms up in prayer that the Lord would meet you and encourage you and strengthen you to overcome where you are at.

**I will hold you up in prayers. I wished you would have shared this earlier, so that
you would not have to go at this alone. I will cry out to God with you.


**I will be praying for you. I will pray as soon as I send this
letter - which is 8pm your time. I'm in IN, so I'm an hour behind
you. I don't know if this sounds weird or not, but I know it makes
me feel good when I hear it - so in case you're like me, I go to bed
around 11 my time, and I will be praying for you then too. So if you
happen to look at your clock and you feel low, you can know someone
cares and is fighting for you.

Keep holding on....

**do not let these times of trouble be an inroad for the dark forces to rush in and get a foothold , a stronghold in your lives. your family is free of the cult and you are so intelligent to have come this far and learned so much of your programming . you must continue the therapy and fight the forces of darkness. this is an attack because you are winning ! remember this. the evil one does not like it when his captives get set free so he retaliates . you are tired and burned out. rest and let the troubles slide away. this too will pass. i will uphold you in our prayers my friend.

**I don't think it is any coincidence that after you did all that awesome work on your website ( that powerful declaration of YOUR independence) that you came under such a strong attack of despair and hopelessness. It made me think of the story of Elijah and what happened to him after he fought and won one of the most glorious battles of his life.

**You are a mighty woman of God and a big threat to the enemy!! He is just using the only tactics he has to defeat you ...... getting you to defeat yourself! But God knows and sees what is happening and he will come to your rescue with His provision for LIFE. You are soooooo loved and supported by so many. You have your own private cheerleading section!! RAH ! RAH ! (haha)

**dear severina, you are under attacks from the enemy and i agree with others who said your declaration of independence was a call to the dark forces to try and bring you down! do not let this happen my girl. you are from what i have seen of your posts, a strong intelligent and very courageous woman and i believe so very motivated to uncover your past and to heal and understand your programming that the demonic forces are enraged at you ! it means you are doing something right my friend and this attack , though fierce , will pass if you hang on . we are all here for you and its ok to be mad at God. he understands and He can take your rage and pain and still love you. i know how it hurts to not be validated by family members. to be told point blank that you basially are a lier or false memory or that you just simply do not see the past clearly at all.

**we are behind you praying and supporting you. i read your posts and they are reflective of a unusually insightful abuse survivor . i see you as having more than the average ability to unravel your programming and i,m sure the demonic sees it too and it worries them. so lets kick him in the behind and send them running ok???

**You're a threat, Severina. But God is going to take Satan's crap
and build into you into His marvelous plan here and on the other side.

**I believe in a God who cares and loves you and who has the power to do anything. That leaves me with the same question. Why? Why has your burden been so heavy? When will He help you to rejoice in each day? Is He trully as cruel as you believe or is there a larger reason for all the ordeals that you have endured? I don't know the answers either... The most powerful way that Jesus is able to transform lives is through love, indeed Paul tells us that love is even greater than faith or hope. I find myself at a loss of words except to tell you that you do matter and there are many things I find to love about you.

1) Your smile.
2) Your faith (even when hope eludes you).
3) Your sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.
4) Your voice (when you sing).
5) Your love for your children.
6) Your writing.
7) Your fun and expressive clothes.
8) Your care for your patients.
9) Your perserverance and search for truth.
10) Your willingness to share your struggles with others (like me).

Don't give up your fight Severina. Do not let fear win. When you stood up to sing at Frontline, evil lost ground. If you sit back down or, even more, back out of the fight, evil will reclaim its space. My world is brighter because I met you and am getting to know you. I know that I am not alone in that. I pray for the day that He will bring you wholeness and peace.
Your friend,

**I feel that I can freely tell you
I love you because of the histories we have so obviously shared/been
through.. and made it through.. .I feel a deep love and affection for anyone
who's made it through the things we've made it through... it means we're the
same kind of people. And I love you for that because it's such a rare thing
in the world today. I love you because of your courage and your faith, even
tho those things seem to you.. to be lacking in you... Severina, they're not
lacking in you at all and that comes out in the strength of your writings
and it comes out in your cries for help... it comes out in a lot of ways. I
love you because you're real. Real people are who they are and when that is
understood by other real people, love takes no time to develop. It just
happens and so, Severina, I love you because you're real. There's a love
that happens, a very deep bond that happens between people when they've been
or are going through a spiritual battle together. You and I are going
through this spiritual battle together and I feel that bond and I feel that
love for you.

**I wanted to reach out to you in your anguish and let you know I care. What is MOST important is that you believe yourself. To heck with anyone who tries to paint a rosey picture for you, of what your childhood was like. You know different, and that's what matters. I would urge you to continue to work on your issues and heal, dispite your family and what they claim things were like for you.

**Every day, when I check my email, I hope there's one from you. Talking with you helps me know that I'm not alone, that there's someone out there who understands. Please don't take that away. You give me hope, just by surviving.

**It was very late last night. All I remember, as I wrote, was feeling
God's throbbing heartbeat for Severina. He loves her very deeply.

**R-- here. I read your note and M--- reply over her shoulder.
I've been praying about it since then, and I had several phrases come to mind. One of them was "broken chains." A quick Google Image search gave me the attached picture. It captures very well my mental images and best wishes for you.

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