I woke up thankful that it was just a dream, but began thinking about family. My son, James, is studying criminal justice and is looking at trends in society and how those stem from how our families function. I believe it, too, from many years of dealing with family systems- my own and those of many other hurting people. I do believe that as goes the family, so goes society.
I’m not talking about specific configuration of family. I don’t care whom the family is made up of, we affect each other deeply. We may have a trigger event happen with a family member that pushes deep buttons for us and feel that it’s better that we cut off a relationship with that person. Granted, that may sometimes be the wisest choice we can make at the time, if that person is unsafe and won’t look at the issues. But it’s like amputation, we only do it if there is no other option.
God knows we all have our issues and what triggers us in the other person’s attitudes and actions is actually most often a mirror of our own unresolved “stuff.” This is a priceless gift. In healthy, open family systems, these “triggers” are addressed in an atmosphere of deep caring for each other, tolerance, empathy, and a willingness to be uncomfortable for awhile until you hear the other person’s honest viewpoint and understand where they are coming from.
Many studies have been done that demonstrate the very personal rewards for those with the courage to heal wounds instead of destroying the fabric of the family by closing off from each other. Those who choose healing in relationships have significantly less physical illness. Cancer thrives on bitterness and isolation (since those increase acidity in the body.) Migraines, anxiety, lowered resistance to colds and flu, heart disease, muscle aches, etc. can all be traced to unresolved issues of the heart.
Another great gift we give ourselves when we choose to be part of a healing, open family system is that of personal momentum. Resistance is a force of nature. The tendency to homeostasis is like the law of gravity. Any time we are moving in a direction of growth and creativity and following our dreams, resistance will come against us to hold us in homeostasis. All artists know this. We have to push against the resistance to create something new and wonderful, even when that new and wonderful thing is our own growth and development.
One of the most effective ways that resistance keeps us from realizing our dreams is within the family, in relationships. The most effective resistance comes from avoidance of relational issues. It may seem that we are taking the path of least resistance when we avoid dealing with issues, but it is a choice that actually increases resistance to personal growth and healing and self-actualization in ourselves.
In other words, we all get there together, or we each suffer. Anyone who has ever experienced a rift in their family system knows what I’m talking about. We can choose to do the work individually, even if others in the family won’t, but we will never experience what we could have if we had all pulled together.
It’s true in the family system and it’s true in the larger family system that is our country and our world. Do you want to see growth and health in our country? Go make peace with your sister. It starts with each of us.
I am proud of the decisions I have seen my family members make, over and over, even when it is super difficult, for healing of wounds and moving closer together rather than making the choice of fear and distance and isolation. I will continue to fight for that, to pray for that, and to choose it for myself."