We are born in, sworn in, baptized in, and married in.
Unfortunately, the word “family” does not always communicate safety, strong bonds or a healthy dynamic. Saying, singing or framing the word “family” does not always ensure a conjuring up of warm feelings; feelings of love and acceptance.
For some, the most incredible act of courage and bravery is when they leave an institution of “family” that is riddled with dysfunction.
Dysfunction is an unchecked, undiagnosed, disease that pushes its members away from itself. Over time, rules, policies and protocols must be formed in order to keep people in; binding them to the institution of family, or community.
Dysfunction says: COME! STAY TOGETHER! YOU BELONG HERE!
Healthy says: GO! SPREAD YOUR WINGS! THE WORLD NEEDS YOU!
When the culture of a family is healthy, its people are: encouraged to further their knowledge; empowered to think for themselves; and propelled out into the world with appropriate resources for survival.
Many times, if you choose to break away, judgement comes: you broke up the marriage; you divided the family; you are rebellious, unable to submit, a “prodigal”.
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. Please.
This judgement focuses attention on the action of the one leaving, instead of considering the dysfunctional and damaging culture of that which he or she was running from.
People do not leave the institution of marriage – they leave a dysfunctional person. People do not leave the institution of family or church – they leave a dysfunctional group of people. People do not leave a career – they leave horrible bosses and dysfunctional environments.
Family can either be a robust home base – invigorating to you – as you go about your life’s work. Or it can be an institution of dysfunction that keeps you entrenched, enslaved, or dependent upon itself. And a few twisted tricks from Psychology 101, helps those in positions of authority keep the conversation focused on your heart, and your motives, and most certainly not theirs.
Shouldn’t our personal development be leading us further and further away from dysfunction? Shouldn’t our journeys of faith be fine tuning our vision and hearing – restoring the discernment of our feelers – where our choices become wiser and our commitments become stronger?
And while charisma can be alluring, perfection can look pretty, and a good show feeds our appetite for entertainment, many times these methods of “family” engagement are more like the MSG of dysfunction. They are meant to keep you coming back to itself. Like the facade of nourishment in an empty calorie.
A good father desires to see his children fly off to discover their unique destiny; a good shepherd desires to see his congregation unfurl out into the community, for great purpose.
Here’s the good news: The health and safety of your heart and mind is more valuable than your commitment to any institution.
Come on, at some point we must see ourselves as rebels in a world where our attention, our commitment and our membership is in demand. Being a rebel is not bad. It is about going against the flow of what others deem right; thinking for yourself; and making decisions based on what is of health and value to you!
Be rebellious towards organizations that discriminate; rebellious to organized contradictions of unconditional love; and rebel against dysfunctional operations.
Speak up. And if you are not heard – if your voice and your shared experience is not valued – run. Because that means YOU are not of value. Run towards greater advocates of freedom; run towards deeper expressions of love, and run towards a wider capacity to love.
Chase after relationships and affiliations that are healthy and sound – and you will find that you become more healthy and sound.