My Divided Family

My family is a little crazy…and not in that funny-sorta-adorable-eccentric-way (okay, maybe we are a little bit of that) We are also what is known as “dysfunctional,” in every loving sense of the word.

If you were to ask them, however, I doubt they would say the same. They would probably peg me as the crazy one because I am the “Christian.” Guilty as charged.

I am the one they see as hateful, self-centered, self-righteous, and holier-than-thou. Over the last year and a half, I have experienced some of the darkest days within my own family. It has read like a novel, complete with lies, deceit and betrayal.

What continues to surprise me, however, is that people often call Christians “judgmental” and “hypocritical” when in fact, they are actually the ones displaying such behavior.

My family members have called me everything in the book, including a liar and promptly told me that I am going to hell. It is laugh-out-loud ironic to have someone tell you in one breath that you are judgmental, while in the next breath curse you to hell. Even some of the meanest Christians I know wouldn’t do that, at least not to your face.

Without going into the whole story, here’s why my family has decided they no longer like me: I made a mistake.

I wrote a post a while back (which has since been deleted due to family drama). This particular post upset my grandmother, as it had some personal details in it that she was hurt by my sharing.

I apologized to her immediately. I wrote her a long apology and sent her flowers. I begged her forgiveness. Thankfully, she did forgive me.

A couple of my other family members, however, were the ones who leaked the post in question to my grandma in the first place. No one took responsibility. No one would fess up.

Instead, one of them attacked me on my blog (she has since been blacklisted. It saddens me that the only person to have been  blacklisted from my blog is a family member). The other has continued to speak lies about me behind my back. So much for them forgiving me after I admitted my mistake. I guess only us Christians do that.

To make matters worse, my mother has been thrown in the middle of the ring and attacked on all sides. Like a true mom, she has come to my defense with claws showing. However, my heart grieves while I watch her precious family relationships unravel for something she had absolutely nothing to do with.

To be clear, I love my family. I really do, but this is not the way families are suppose to function. This is not what God had in mind.

I have often contemplated the fact that of all the places the Messiah could have appeared in the world, God chose to place Him in a family. Jesus didn’t show up on the scene as a 30 year old man from nowhere. He belonged to a family. He had a mom, dad, and siblings.

Yet, I also know that even as God designed families to provide support, stability, companionship, and connection–Jesus promised us that He would divide families:

“Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other! From now on families will be split apart…

‘Father will be divided against son
and son against father;
mother against daughter
and daughter against mother;
and mother-in-law against daughter-in-law
and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:51-53)

This verse rattles me. I don’t like it. I don’t like that my Savior said it and yet, in it, I find some small sliver of comfort. I know that despite the hurt my family has caused me, Jesus said it would happen. It is the price of following Him. A price I am happy to pay.

What is your family relationship like? Is your family divided or happily connected? Have you struggled with sharing your faith within your family?

32 thoughts on “My Divided Family”

  1. I think it really sucks that you have to deal with attitudes like that from your family.

    I have been really blessed with a great family. Even in my great family I have been kind of misunderstood sometimes because I am pretty different then them. I am glad that love covers a multitude of sins.

    1. Darrell,
      It does suck. Thankfully, these recent events have also brought about some great fruit.

      My mom has moved more towards God as a result, which I am thankful for.

      I agree…I too am thankful love covers a multitude of sins.

      Thanks Darrell.

  2. Nicole,

    You said:
    “I have often contemplated the fact that of all the places the Messiah could have appeared in the world, God chose to place Him in a family. Jesus didn’t show up on the scene as a 30 year old man from nowhere. He belonged to a family. He had a mom, dad, and siblings.”

    Amen, my friend. Amen, indeed.

    I have often used this mindset as an illustration to why I believe Jesus is pro-life. He actually went through the whole reproductive process as the son of man to show how wonderful it really is, and how it is to be revered and respected. This is why He didn’t come as a 30-year old fella, fully grown and ready for action. He humbled Himself to experience the wonders of His own handiwork. Only Jesus can do that.

    You also said:
    “This verse rattles me. I don’t like it. I don’t like that my Savior said it and yet, in it, I find some small sliver of comfort. I know that despite the hurt my family has caused me, Jesus said it would happen. It is the price of following Him. A price I am happy to pay.”

    My goodness. This shows great maturity and wisdom and humility. While I would so enjoy to spout that everything about being a covenant son of our Father was all about rainbows and unicorns and we all get to Heaven, this simply is not true. This is not meant as a slam on our God, not at all. Sometimes, though, we do feel the reality of His New Covenant with us and it ain’t always easy to digest.

    I completely appreciate your candor, transparency, and willingness to tell us what you think, even at the expense of stirring up the ire of some. You rock it, Nicole. You are so where our Father wants you today.

  3. yeah…i get this. i’m living it right now. it’s tough to relearn standards taught as truth growing up…and tough to know that some where along the way, healthy boundaries i’ve set for myself will ruffle some feathers because of the line i’m drawing – the line so many of my family members haven’t been able to draw.

    1. Gosh, is what you wrote ever true.

      I think growing up and realizing your family is not exactly who you thought they were as a child is difficult.

      As for boundaries, I know all too well the need to set them and keep them.

      I’m sorry you are going through a similar situation. I will be praying, however, that God’s grace pour into each and every crevasse and that His love would overflow.

      Thank you for sharing.

    2. “….and tough to know that some where along the way, healthy boundaries i’ve set for myself will ruffle some feathers because of the line i’m drawing.”

      Wow. There seems to be a serious amount of truth going on today here at MR. Truth and Holiness….so impossible to separate.

    3. I can so relate to drawing the line! It is not something I wanted to do, but something I had to do- because no one else was willing to. Your words have encouraged me today, Elora, because I’ve recently had to try to set up healthy boundaries and have been judged because of it. It is comforting to know others have walked and are walking where I am right now.

  4. My family are all christians…and I still find those verses wholly applicable…I’m sorry for the family drama, those two words just seem so synonymous!

    My family all has vastly different stances on things which I find a beautiful representation to me of the vastness of expression within the church, but don’t seem to find that grace extended to me. Thankfully my dad is going through some of the same faith “revamping” as me and holding a lot beliefs a little bit looser. He’s been a huge encouragement to me and given me lots of support.

    My sisters are really open to listing to the things I”m learning as well, I just hate to see it “get them in trouble” with my and stepdad.

    1. Jenn,
      Your point is well taken. Christian families are not exempt from strife. Of course not.

      Especially if people are wrestling with opposing viewpoints and theology. It can difficult, for sure.

      I’m glad you have your dad to walk alongside with you in this. What a blessing and encouragement.

      Thanks for sharing Jenn.

  5. Oh family. It’s been interesting in the past few years as my family has, for the most part, walked away from living as disciples for Christ because of hurts they have experienced in the church. It’s been interesting because while they have moved more towards lukewarm living, I have moved more towards engaging with God. And it sucks not being able to relate to them as much anymore. Praise God that he is bigger than my family struggles.

    May God mend the broken relationships in your extended family, Nicole, and preserve your immediate family’s devotion to His will.

    1. Josh,
      My family too cites “hurts from the church” for their walking away. Although my family is Catholic and so the walking away part is a little different.

      I always find this excuse so frustrating. Why does your relationship with God need to suffer because someone else wronged you?

      It does suck that you are less able to relate to your family as your relationship with Christ has grown.

      Agreed–God is bigger than our family struggles! May God mend the relationships in your family as well Josh. Thank you for the encouragement.

  6. When God saved me from my sins, the first person that became my enemy was one of the closest person I’ve ever loved. My uncle. He’s 2 years older than me and we go way back. He was a HUGE obstacle and we had many debates. None that made a difference in his life (yet).

    As you have clearly stated, Christ has put us in a position of choosing who we will serve. Will we serve God or family? Isn’t our “family” those who do the will of the father? Ouch, ouch indeed!

    1. Moe,
      It saddens me to hear that one of your closest relationships has suffered since coming to faith. The road to follow Christ is not the easier road…it is narrow and few pass through it.

      You obviously still have faith though that God will do something in your uncle’s life. I will be praying for the same thing!

  7. My family dynamic isn’t great either. I’m careful never to blog about my family (except for clearly positive things), and careful what I post on facebook.

    I am on good speaking terms with a couple of my family members, things of the past forgiven; but they view any mention of them (even when saying “look what God did despite this” ends up making them feel like I haven’t forgive them. While counselors teach you that if you have truly dealt with something and forgiven, you can talk about it without the pain, they think mentioning it indicates unforgiveness.

    In my case, it’s a third family member who hasn’t worked through her own issues who tends to blame me for things that happened between myself and two others. Out of nowhere I’ll receive a LONG email about how the others walk on eggshells around me thinking I’ll never forgive them. So I pick up the phone and call them and tell them what I’ve been told, and reinforce that all is forgiven and that I love them and that I choose to focus on the good in our relationships and they tell me all is well and they didn’t feel that way at all.

    I can’t blog or post about my medical struggles as one person won’t believe anything I say, no matter how many test results and md’s support it.

    It’s kinda nuts. And I know some would say it’s better to write them off since it’s THEIR issue and not mine…but for now I choose to be a peacekeeper. I will speak the truth, but choose to remain silent on things that I know will likely cause turmoil.

    There may come a day when I decide to no longer remain silent…but without major changes, it will likely cost me at least one relationship that it would break my heart to lose.

    1. Dee Dee,
      I’m sorry your family situation is so stinky. I think the eeling of not being able to express your concerns, fears, or realities without fear of ridicule or being called a liar is so painful. I am right there with you.

      I am kind of over the part about not blogging about my you can see. I was tip-toeing around, but no matter what I write, they still find reason to blame me. So, I figured why not just be honest and express what I want to express (in a hopefully healthy non-combative way of course).

      I commend you for keeping the peace. We are called to a ministry of reconciliation, which can be so challenging, but brings such glory to God.

      Thank you for sharing here.

  8. My family on my side is great. In fact, it was my faith in a time of trial that really brought a good situation into a great situation. My dad & I are closer now than ever before since that time.

    My wife’s side of the family…the exact opposite. It’s not good at all. Makes me thankful the way my mom’s taken Amy under her wing.

    I’m so sorry to hear about the problems with your family. I’ve had members of our extended family in the past who did the same kind of thing and eventually they all just fell away. (They’re dead now so they’re no longer a problem.)

    1. Jason,
      What an encouragement to hear that the Lord turned what could have been a bad situation into a blessed one. God is like that though, huh?

      And too that your family has become a new family to your wife. I am blessed to have Godly, loving parents-in-law and what a tremendous help and blessing it has been for me.

  9. Ugh. I know what you mean. I’ve been witnessing a longtime fued go one among my wife’s family – who are so called Catholics. Ridiculous. But my side of the family has had its dysfunctional times too – some lasting years, and we are dedicated Christians.

    1. Matt,
      I know it shouldn’t, but it does bring me a bit of comfort to know that even families devoted to Christ suffer from dysfunction. I mean, it is logical. I belong to Christ and I am plenty dysfunctional!

  10. Oh Nicole, I think we need to go to coffee together. What you described in your post is so my life right now and it breaks my heart. But like you said, if this is the price of following Christ, this is certainly a price I am willing to pay.

    My family has always been extremely close and filled with love, but it was a closeness that was laden with dysfunction. There have been vast improvements in the last few years and there have also been painful betrayals. I would have never thought I’d have to give any of my family an ultimatum. But I have. I have 3 sisters and a brother. Sibling relationships are complex and can be volatile. Most of my relationships with my siblings have strengthened as we’ve gotten older with one exception. My younger sister, who is 14 months younger than me, and I have always been thick as thieves. We were always close, and after high school we grew even closer. My faith was always the point at which we diverged and created disagreements but we were always a big part of each others lives. However, after I recommitted my life to Christ and decided to live by His Word things changed. This also coincided with my relationship, engagement, and marriage to Mark. So much so, that my sister pretty much blames Mark for our deteriorated relationship. There has been a lot of drama. I have asked her time and time again to treat me with more respect, she has not. She is like a time bomb. Simply asking which table clothe to use on Easter caused her to erupt with a vicious response laced with swear words. This is not uncommon. It came to a head when Mark politely asked her to not treat me that way. The next day we received a slew of texts and phone calls where she threw around wild accusations and tried to poison my husband’s reputation to my family. I won’t stand it. I sent her a letter stating that I would love for her to be a part of my life, but until she changes this behavior she is no longer welcome in it. I told her my relationship to Christ and my marriage come before my relationship to her,and to protect both I need distance from her. I made sure she knows that I love her and I forgive her, but that I can’t be around her until she figures out what is causing her so much anger and pain and changes her behaivor. I definitely encouraged her to form a relationship with Christ but I know that at this point, I am not the one to bring her that message, I pray that God sends someone she will listen to.

    I would love to pretend like everything is fine. For the past two years I have forgiven a lot- and I will continue to forgive, but I am learning that forgiving her doesn’t mean I have to continue an unhealthy relationship with her. I have set up boundaries, and it hurts a lot. But I know its right. Luke 12 has also come to bring me comfort. The situation sucks, but my Savior promised it if I follow Him. So I can praise Him for everything that is happening. I know He will bring about everything for good and He gives me the strength to endure.

    I really needed this post, Nicole. Thank you for your raw honesty, it spoke to me.

    1. Carla,
      I’m so sorry your relationship with your sister has become so strained. It grieves my heart. As someone who has no siblings, I long for those types of relationships. It saddens me to hear of such separation.

      At the same time, I commend you for creating boundaries and prioritizing your relationship with Christ and marriage to Mark. God will bless your obedience and willingness to do so, I have no doubt.

      I will be praying for continued wisdom and peace for you, as well as the interceding of the Holy Spirit in your sister’s life.

  11. Families are some of the most unforgiving people we will ever
    Encounter. I did not speak ( partially my fault ) to my family for about a year and a half. We still rarely speak of church since I left the denomination.

    We can take comfort however in that Jesus is a friend who
    Sticks closer than a brother and when we are blessed with a good church family God will care for us.

  12. “Biological Family” is a tough one. “You can choose your friends, but you cannot choose your family”, as the saying goes.

    Every person in my family of origin, and most everyone in my extended family, whom I can think of, believe in Christ. However, all of us have varying degrees of just “how” we believe in Christ and that has left us very separated, segregated and down right cut off from one another.

    Accusations have even been made that one person in particular is demon infested simply because of the way this person believes in Christ and lives their life, not to mention that others have simply “fallen away from God” because they don’t follow certain religious rituals.

    It’s easy to find fault and blame one another for apparent actions that “look like” sins the Bible would not condone if we choose to live by the Law of the Old Testament. But if we walk into the fullness of the New Testament and realize that our only job is now to fully accept a loving Father and love others as we would have them love us, then is become obviously clear that we no longer have the duty, or the right, to judge another human being, that job has been taken away, completely, by the job Christ completed.

    Unfortunately this very theory is the reason many Believers argue and are separated from one another. This is the reason Christ made his statement mentioned in your blog, Nicole; “Jesus promised us that He would divide families:

    “Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other! From now on families will be split apart…

    ‘Father will be divided against son
    and son against father;
    mother against daughter
    and daughter against mother;
    and mother-in-law against daughter-in-law
    and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:51-53)”

    Unfortunately The Church is divided on the subject of whether we actually can lay the Old Testament aside and use it only as a guide for how we should live, not as literal law, because it has become obsolete (“By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.” Hebrews 8:13 (NIV) )

    I strongly believe this topic is one of the main reasons Believers are so segregated today. Some believe in beating others over the head with their Bibles, others believe in the softer, more kind and loving approach Jesus displayed.

    The ironic thing about it all, is that, no, even with the loving kindness Jesus displayed, he did not bring peace, but instead he brought division because his message, one of loving one another, instead of judging one another, would forever change the dynamic of how all of us interacted with each other. Some would continue to judge, while others would grab onto the message of love and go forth and spread the True Gospel of Christ. This, in my opinion, is what has caused the most amount of division amongst families.

    1. I think your last paragraph sums it up so well. There is unfortunately so much divide among believers and yes, Christ brings division because some still have such a difficult time grasping His message of love. It is ironic, as you point out…and painfully tragic. But again, Jesus forewarned us of these things. Following Him is the reward.

      1. Nicola,
        you might not wish to read Edmund Gosse’s warning in his book ‘Father and Son’, 1907, from ‘Let me speak plainly.’ at the bottom of page 143 at,+Edmund+Gosse&hl=en&sa=X&ei=o7s5UeCVFI6R0QWTnoCADg&ved=0CDwQ6wEwAg#v=onepage&q=Let%20me%20speak%20plainly&f=false


        but I dearly wish someone in my family had read it at least 3 generations before my own.

        It is also available in Penguin Books with an excellent introduction by Peter Abbs at

        and elsewhere.

  13. Your words and experiences are so real. I experienced the same issues in my family. Thank God that other family members not involved chose to stay out of the conflict. I made a comment on FB and a family member thought I spoke to them. They cursed me out. I exposed them. They cursed me back out. I told them I loved them anyway. Since then they haven’t spoken a word to me. I often think about it and wonder what I did. I chose to take the dignified way out. I chose not to argue but try to explain that the comment wasn’t about her. I tried to communicate how much my family means to me to no avail. I told her I loved her and that if she wanted nothing to do with me I couldn’t stop her. I wasn’t going to cut my ties with her on FB because she misconstrued a comment. Needless to say a year has gone by. No one talks about it anymore and I chose to forgive and move on. However, its very awkward being around family, laughing and having a good time and knowing that one of your own called you something other than the child of God. You are right, its a price that I have to pay for following Christ but its a price that I am gladly going to pay! Thanks for sharing, I am really enjoying your blog.

  14. i lived in the heat of a dysfunctional family, that often alternated kindness, concern to name calling … it one hell of a confusing situation. I really felt bad for my mother who was caught up in the middle. No, mother deserves to be tortured in that manner. Over the years, i have learned that the only way to survive a dysfunctional family is by forgiving them even when they are not sorry and to pray for my future generation because my heart cannot handle another dysfunctional family

  15. My family relationship is strained too. I believe my family is divided mainly because my parents didn’t choose to do what was right in the first place. My dad has smoked marijuana all his life and my mom quit 13 years ago. My siblings are very dependent financially on my parents and my parents don’t seem to mind giving them things that they need to purchase on their own with hard work. My mom still does all the chores in their house despite the fact that there are other grown ups in the house who can help and my dad does physical labor so strenuous without the help of my brothers.

    I am so blessed to have moved out early.

    My family knows the right way to go, they know about Christ and what he has come to do but still haven’t made the choice to serve him. My mom took me to church when I was a kid but still held onto her addiction until 13 years ago. I am thankful for that but the words that she says are still so hurtful.

    I’ve tried sharing my faith with them but I end up having my feelings hurt and I feel like retaliating so I try to keep to myself.

    I believe that this area is one that I really need God to touch and heal. I don’t want to carry all my baggage into my own parenting.

  16. Thank the Lord that day by day…His grace overflows me as I still struggle with my highly deficient and dysfunctional Family who cannot see the Jesus that I see even after He’s done a 180 in my life and delivered me from sickness and certain death.

    The “EeerK” is this (and it deeply eerks me and as I wrestle much with it)…

    All admit their Belief and Faith in Christ Jesus but are in love with the world…I thought Christianity meant living a death not a life…what I mean is dying to self daily. A sacrificial love…it’s everywhere in scripture yet I have a baby sister who declares “live your life and have fun doing it”…not exactly my principle on living the Christian life.

    Image, Status, Power and Recognition is what my family feed on. And I, going through deep valleys and hardships not a one of them can relate too is like a dog in their backyard living in the doghouse and them throwing a bone from time to time…I have been challenged in every way and the most my family will do is throw me a hundred dollar bill or give me some of their freezer rations…

    It is time and sacrificial love I yearn for and they claim there lives are just too busy to fit me in. What God do they worship and what Bible are they reading from? I would give a thousand $100 dollar bills for some authenticity and time.

    Is “time” now such a commodity these days that no one knows any longer how to give it?

    As I mentioned above, this is a daily struggle to find the God of Israel’s message in all this. I know His ways are not always my ways.

    My Family draw much enjoyment in living for themselves. I could not let a minute much less years go by without reaching out to a sibling in need.

    I am talking about people who believe in “Easy-Believism and Prosperity Gospel…Most all of my siblings live lavishly with myself being the odd-man out.

    I am an embarrassment to them and predict that If I become ill and indigent, not one would put me up within their lavish luxury homes.

    Oh my Lord Jesus, how painful it is that of whom say they love me would let me die in the streets. I know I have much pain and heartache living within me over my deficient family. Can and will God heal my brokenness. Why is my family so blind and deaf.

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