We’ve already talked about the basics of the family roles in dysfunctional families here and delved deeper into how these roles influenced life with chronic illness here. Now, we’re delving into the problem-solving portion from a biblical worldview. Which I don’t know about you, but this is always my favorite part: actually having a solution to the problem as we looked at here with a similar problem in dealing with church wounds.
Healing From Dysfunctional Family Roles From a Biblical Worldview
Going through all of the dysfunctional family roles mentioned from a biblical worldview, the star/hero child cannot be the family’s true saving grace. Having a pleasant PR image in the form of a star child builds up an unnecessary burden for the star child to be perfect, leading them to a life that could result with them hearing a nagging inner critic from within that resists listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit who lends grace towards mistakes and is always open to real repentance as the true Hero. The hero child may also have heaped so much praise upon themselves throughout childhood that they believe they’re superior to their peers or if not superior, deserving of their judgment calls. Hero children can do good to remember that there is a difference between wisely discerning and showcasing the truth in love instead of condemning another through assumptive judgments not verified by facts.
And for the scapegoat, no one can take on the burden of carrying others sins. Oftentimes, the scapegoat will walk through life with intense guilt, believing they’re faulted for everything, forgetting of course, that Jesus
has already become the true Scapegoat that none of us could ever be.Given the fact that their family may not take them as credible since they were truth-tellers of the family’s dysfunction, they may hold themselves in low-esteem, listening to the voice of self-doubt all too closely which in turn, can cause them to become stunted from a growth that is hidden within, waiting to sprout forth. They must remember that Jesus is their advocate (Rom. 8:34) and if God is for them, then none can be against them (Rom. 8:31).
The lost child who has experienced much neglect in their life may forget that God would never leave nor abandon them. Though their own mother and father have forsaken them, God will hold them close (Psalm 27:10) and even if a mother feels no love for the child she has borne, God promises not to forget (Is. 49:15). Their temptation could also be to pull away from a community, never, or hardly ever, developing any deep, long-lasting relationships. The lost child would do good to remember that two is better than one (Ecc. 4:9-12) and that God created us in reflection of Himself, a triune God who is in His own deeply knit love relationship.
The mascot may feel the need to rescue people from their situations, perpetually falling into a dangerous rescue/victim relationship that leads to co-dependency which is a result from their childhood of rescuing their family through entertainment. Mascots must remember how to help people appropriately by safeguarding themselves and others from co-dependency and to remember the true Rescuer hasn’t left a blind eye to the people they surround themselves with in need of help. They must remember to be infused with the Spirit to help when it’s necessary by carrying only people’s burdens and not their lighter loads (Galatians 6:1-5).
Healing Begins From Dysfunctional Families by Telling Yourself the Truth
The dysfunctional family roles and dysfunctional family patterns in general with be ever perpetrated in an unending cycle if it’s not uncovered, unmasked for what it truly is: dysfunction masked as “normalcy.” The first step to healing is, well, accepting reality. Where has your family gone askew in perpetuating the cycle? Where have you gone wrong? Do you feel like when you’re around family, you are falling back into the role you’ve been playing for most of your life?
Then decide to live above the surface. Most people traverse through life never taking the step forward to self-awareness and deciding to tell themselves the truth, even if it’s a grueling process. So they stay below the surface of the iceberg, living an emotionally stilted life. But I know everyone reading this is better than that, right? Can we vow to tell ourselves the truth, seeking to see not only when others are wrong, but us as well? Can we decide to dig deeper into why we’re acting the way we do instead of pretending like everything’s okay and that crazy is the new normal?
Practical Solutions for Healing from Family Dysfunction with a Chronic Illness
I thought it was ironic that after I snapped the pictures for this post that the Bible was unintentionally opened to the book of James. As most of us know, James was the brother of Jesus and a doubter of Christ’s divinity and only came to see the truth of Jesus’ claims after His death. Jesus’ own family thought He lost His mind when He told the truth which was His divine claim to being the Son of God. I think Jesus’ own example is a perfect one of how we should go about dealing with our own families when it comes to telling the truth concerning our chronic illness. And what’s that? Jesus eventually walked away, going about His own mission when it was noticeable they wouldn’t listen. He didn’t fall to the ground by their side, begging for them to open their eyes and get with the picture. He also didn’t allow their doubt to suppress His truth, nor did He allow their words to cause Him to go into a long season of cognitive dissonance where He doubted His own valid claim. Jesus simply reformed a new family in the form of His disciples, who although were imperfect, were still, for the most part, open to hearing His truth.
Conversely, if your family is open to hearing from you about your illness, but they just “don’t get it” fully, discern what is best for you in this circumstance. They may simply not understand what it’s like to walk through life carrying the burden of chronic illness. Try to communicate with them in the best way you know how asking for them to be patient with you as you try to effectively communicate your side, just as you’re patient with them for their limited understanding of your medical condition. At the end of the day, remember to be like Jesus and go about with the mission God has placed on your heart. Our job isn’t to convince the world that we have a health condition. If people aren’t willing to get it, that says more about them than it does about you.
Hope in Christ,
For Further Reading:
This book is from two faith-based psychologists and discusses the different types of mothers (though, you can have a blend of more than one) and how to in adulthood, have the best relationship possible with these different types of moms.
Always a relevant book when it comes to living out healthy relationships and even includes a specific chapter in dealing with the uniqueness of family relationships and how to reinforce your boundaries.
Beyond Boundaries takes the book Boundaries to another level by discussing some subject matter not addressed in the prior book, such as a more in-depth focus on separating yourself from toxic people and what this even means in a biblical marriage.
Detours is an encouraging book by pastor and author, Tony Evans and are immensely relevant to the topic of family dysfunction and finding God’s purpose within the mess.