Is it every OK to say goodbye to toxic family members?
As a kid, I used to look forward to over-nighters at my aunt and uncle's house. They would spoil us with all the things we didn't get our house, such as Cap'n Crunch and Dentyne gum. My aunt would buy hair accessories for me. . ."just because." In sum, I spent many wonderful days on the farm with them as well as my grandma. Likewise, holidays were filled with laughter, good food, and boisterous games.
Now, thirty-five years later, no one in that family can stand to be in the same room together. It's hard to nail the problem down to just one source; however, suffice it to say that greed and entitlement (who gets the family farm?) have splintered and broken a once-close family.
As devastating as the break-up is, it is equally devastating that both sides claim to be lovers and followers of Christ. . .liberally sprinkling any civil conversations that occur with words such as "forgiveness" and "love." Even so, there doesn't seem to be much of either at the moment. Is anyone to blame? Yes. . .everyone.
Clearly, I get most of my information from what side, but it's true that my mom has been acquiescent - has negotiated my uncle's demands and has tried to be civil throughout the process. However, the effort does not seem to be reciprocated, so now what?
Joel Osteen, in his book, Daily Readings from Your Best Life Now: 90 Devotions for Living at Your Full Potential, discusses the concept of walking away from people who seem to be toxic who seem to be detracting one from his/her God-given destiny. He refers to it as the "gift of goodbye." Osteen says, "All of us, at times, will have people who leave our lives for one reason or another. It may be something you weren’t expecting. You may not understand it. But if you’ve done your part to walk in love and forgiveness, if you know in your heart you’ve done your best and the person walks away, that’s when you have to trust that God knows who needs to be in your life."
So here's the question: Is it Ok for a Christian to say goodbye to toxic family members?
A couple of thoughts come to mind regarding this issue. First, how does one define the word, "family"? Does family consist of those with whom a blood connection exists? Does family consist of those with whom we share the same household? Does family consist of those people around whom we surround yourself - those who love and support us? Can close friends be deemed "family"?
Based on my belief, Christ specifically placed on this earth for this time and place. . .and with a certain group of people. Our placement in our earthly families (mom, dad, etc) are not a mistake, nor is it coincidence. Therefore, it seems we are meant to live and maintain a relationship with these people for a reason. It seems God chose to put them into our lives and vice versa because they are an integral part in developing us into the person whom He has predestined us to be.
But when circumstances change. . .when people change. . .when sin corrupts those relationships. . .when those relationships threaten our God-directed course. . .when those relationships are just plain toxic, is it within Biblical bounds to walk away?
I have my own opinions, but I am interested to hear what the "blogosphere" has to say about all this.