A Dysfunctional Family

Dr. Lynn Rosas

email:  Fruitsalad.rosas@gmail.com

What exactly is a typical family?  If you stop and think about the Bible and the families in the Bible you will find that they were just as dysfunctional as the families today are. Some more dysfunctional and some less but exactly whose family has no dysfunction in it?

So if you but believe the first family on earth  wasn’t dysfunctional…think again.  They were!  After all, Adam and Eve committed the first sins, and then their one son killed his brother. They get banned from the garden and have to toil heavily the rest of their lives.   All throughout the Bible many of the families were dysfunctional. They get married for love (or lust, or prearranged someplaces),  have kids because they want them, but then it seems out of nowhere they entered into a dysfunctional family.  Why is that?

I grew up in a dysfunctional family too.  How we grow up does affect who we are, but we can all change what we do with our life…and change the circumstances so that we can have a family that is not totally dysfunctional.  We do not have to continue in complete dysfunction. There are some families with just a little dysfunction while there are others that are full blown dysfunction. 

How we grow up, and what happens in our early life affects us in our relationships, our marriage, and how we raise our children.  Depending on the severity of what happened or did not happen to us we can build up walls and not let people in, become overprotective, under protective, hold grudges, and the list is pretty long .  We build walls in our heart and life  because we don’t want hurt anymore.   If your family was really dysfunctional you might not let people close to you, or you could go totally the other way and let people into your life that you should  not let in. 

Living in a dysfunctional family can be hard.  To those that the dysfunction was not so bad they don’t understand, but many bad things happen to people out there and all that anger, hatred, and pain carries over into their relationships, marriage, and how they bring up their children.  There is no excuse for the abuse of anyone no matter what.  We know abuse and great dysfunction happens.  Some can talk and deal with what happened to them while others can’t…not at least until they get God and help. Some can take their experiences in life and put it to good use helping others while some don’t care and won’t try.  Some will learn to forgive people in their past because they learn to forgive others who even don’t seem to deserve their forgiveness…actually frees them.  Maybe the other person doesn’t care that you forgive them…but it frees you.  Other people who hold hatred and anger in them and never forgiven anyone and they will remain in bondage in their spirit.We can all grow from our experiences and turn those bad things into learning experiences, and turn the pain into compassion and to help others along the way.  We do not have to stay in that place, and we do not have to continue it in our life holding onto the hurt and dysfunction. (I am not saying that all dysfunctional families go around hurting each other either so don’t take it that way)

No matter what you went through and no matter what you have done to this point in  your life you can change your circumstances.  You do not have to live like this.  You can’t make someone forgive you for what you have done, and the past is past and you can’t go back and change it. However, you can choose to forgive all who have hurt you in any way.   What you can do is learn from the situations that you lived through, give them to God and don’t take them back.  When you repent and ask for forgiveness God will not turn you away.  God will forgive you and help you through things in life.  If your family, and those you have hurt…or those that hurt you… do not forgive you and you have repented and asked for forgiveness then let it go.  They will have to deal with God themselves for UN-forgiveness.  You do your part and God does His and you can change.  It might take others a long time to see the change in you even, and some might never understand but thank God DOES!

I understand that some of this sounds like we are talking about abuse and not just dysfunction but sometimes and to some people they might even look the same.  You can be totally dysfunctional and not have abuse…but you won’t have abuse without dysfunction of some kind.

If we don’t repent and ask God for forgiveness our life will not be what God intended it to be.  It is no fun living in guilt and pain.  It is no fun knowing that people hate you and wish you bad.  You could have done really horrible things in your life.  But God loves you, died for you, and wants your life to have purpose and love.  He does not want you to live in guilt, pain, suffering, and unforgiveness.  Sometimes it is our self that we must forgive most.  It was that way with me.  I was my worst enemy.  You can’t fulfill the purpose God has for you until you let the past go, get into the now, and not only forgive others, but forgive yourself as well.  Man might never forgive nor forget whatever it was you did or others did to you, but once God forgives you He will never remind you of it.  If you are being reminded of things it is not from God and you don’t have to accept it.  Also, if you claim to forgive someone then you will never again bring it up, and you will never play dirty and remind them again and rub it in their face because if you are that is not forgiveness. If that is you still….reminding others of what they did and bringing it up again and again…you need to go back to God and discuss this with Him.  For somewhere along the journey you only went through the motions. You need to really forgive so you can be free of it and then get on with your life.

If you want the cycle of abuse, pain, suffering, and being dysfunctional to end then give it to God, do what He says (you can find it in the Bible), help others, ask for forgiveness, forgive others, and let the pain of the past go forever.  What you have been through in life can be a blessing so that you can help others in need.  This world can be a great learning experience for eternity, it can also be a great place to help others through the same things that you have had to endure in your life.  Just because you or I have had it rough in life does not mean that we should ever ignore someone else that is going through something.  Sometimes a kind word would truly make someone’s day and it might just be the one that changes or causes someone to want to change their life and circumstances. 

My parents did not divorce but many times I felt that they would be happier if they did.  I know they loved each other and stayed together, but I don’t feel inside that either of them was ever happy with one another.  That is how I saw them. They both had issues and problems just like the rest of us do.   There were many issues that came up that should not have happened and did and I had a lot of anger over them.  I know a lot of  you are hurting also.  There are unresolved issues and maybe you can’t even resolve them with your family…and they could have died even and so you still feel that those issues  go on in your life.  It does not have to be that way.  My parents loved each other and stayed together and could have had a great marriage but I know both of them had unresolved issues they never fixed as well from growing up.  They had issues in their lives that were never dealt with.  God hates divorce.  I am not saying they should have divorced what I am saying is that they should have worked on things, repented of things, and forgave many people in their lives so that they could have stopped the cycle and stopped the dysfunction, and stopped the abuses.  It took a long time to forgive things here, and it took even longer to forgive myself so I could break the pain in my life. 

Past is past and that is why it is called the past.  Whatever someone did to you, whatever you have done to someone in your life is past.  You can’t change it. You can beat yourself up daily if you want to but you don’t have to.  Let it go.   It could very well have been horrible but it hurts you to carry it around and worry about it.  It is over.  They can’t, and you can’t go back and fix anything.  I know my past almost destroyed me and it was not until God worked in me and I gave it all to Him that I could even begin to grow and let it go.  It took along time to get to the point  I could forgive, and it was not until then that I could repent for what I had done in my life to hurt others.  Our God is so good and wants to help and we don’t always let Him. You don’t want to be in the pain of your past because that keeps you from the joy that can be in your life now and in the future.  Most times (not all) you just don’t really know what someone who hurt you went through and felt so you don’t know why they acted the way they did. 

Things and circumstances build up and up and we build things up and distort the truth and then believe the lie that we have built up.  Sometimes, many times, someone does not even know they hurt you, and sometimes we take things out of context and don’t see the situation like it truly is.  Maybe someone hurt you so badly that you think you will never be able to let it go, but maybe they didn’t even know they did, and maybe it was never intentional.  You carry that pain all your life around with you and it gets in the way of every relationship you ever have and you just feel you can’t let it go after all, “you just don’t know what they did to me!” 

No, I don’t know what someone did to you, but I know what people did to me and it was cruel and mean and it hurt me terribly.  But until I gave it to God it never got better.  People hurt me, and I hurt people I loved very much.  I can’t change it and neither can those that hurt me. I have, however, learned from every experience.  I am not fully healed from all aspects of things that happened to me or that I caused to hurt others…but God is working on me and He will work on you.  I know because of my past I can always help someone. 

There are many kinds of sins that affect the function of a family.  It could be sexual sins against you, abuse mentally or emotionally, it could be that they were alcoholics or drug attics, It could be they were angry and had violent tendencies.  There is also the kind of person who totally ignores their family  so that the child grows up with no love at all.  But did the parent mean to treat them like that and why?  Most times they didn’t even know it.  The parents could be doing all they thought was right and good for their kids and all the while the child thought that the parents were awful and unloving. I am not saying everyone didn’t know what they did was wrong in some way.  What I am saying is we are human and just like we take our past and it is hard to get over the hurdles…maybe their life was also. I know I have thought deeply about my parents and siblings over the years as to why I felt like I did about our dysfunctional family.  I have searched my heart over and over to see if there was a pattern as to what happened to them.  I thought also why in the world I never belonged and why my siblings were treated differently than me (as I saw it).  A child’s mind takes a lot of things in and many times what they felt was one way…didn’t happen that way at all…but it was truth to them so they replay that wrong thought over and over again and build on it until the valley becomes a mountain.

Some parents were overly stern and some were not stern enough.  To see maybe why they acted like they did one needs to know how they were raised and what caused the way that they have become.  Did the parents make the child feel insecure, unloved, unwanted, or did the parents make them feel loved, wanted, and needed?  Was the family unit in order with both Mom and Dad and did they do the part and role that God made them to be?  Did you feel and do you feel love when you think of your childhood, marriage, and relationships with those you love, or do you feel pain?  We are human people and if we could truly look into our mind and explore it fully we would also find out that we made a lot of mountains way bigger than they needed to be (but that is not the case with everyone). For some they really did live in horrible pain and suffering and it is now time to get right with God, to forgive others, and to begin to live the way God wants you to live.  Stop living in the past as you can’t change anything from it.  There is no magic wand to twirl around.  We can’t go back and make people act differently, and we can’t make anyone truly sorry they hurt us or feel the pain of what we felt.

Are you the parent now in the family or has your child had to become the parent because you can’t cope with life?  Many times children act more like adults than the child does. The thing is if we have kids we are to parent them, love them, train them up in godly ways, teach them morals, integrity, and just do our best.  Sometimes we get it right and sometimes we don’t.  I know if I could go back to raising my kids all over again I would do it way different than I did…for alot of my upbringing in my life poured over into their life and I didn’t always make the right choices.  I am truly sorry and repentant of those things, but I can never take them back or change them.  I have to go on and try to get the rest of my life right with them and with God.  I will always fail in someway because I am human…but I am now a child of God and my God is awesome.  He takes my hand and leads me…and even if I have to go through trying things now in my life…I know…I mean I really know that God is with me and I can make it over any mountain or through any valley.  You can too.

We can all change!!!!!!   I know for me I had a great deal to let go, many to forgive, much to repent of, and many things to change.  Until I got to a point that God could work in me and with me I did not let my past go, I did not forgive others, and I did not change.  It was a very hard time for me to go through things to get to the point of change but it was worth everything to get to that point.  I can honestly say now I do not hate anyone, wish anyone bad, want bad for anyone, and I forgave all those that hurt me.  I do not have control though if someone forgives me and wants a relationship with me.  I am only accountable for my actions, deeds, and the fact that I have repented and asked for forgiveness.  I can not control another, and I can not make them like or accept me.  That was an awakening.  I am responsible for my actions and until I gave it all to God and really wanted it to be different  I would pray and give it to God and take it back. I no longer have to take the crud of my life back.  I just want to love others and help others and one day stand before my Lord and Savior and hear: “Well done my good and faithful servant…welcome home”!!!!!!!!!  Do you want that too?

We pass many things on to our children that we should not.  I loved my children and I know that so many times I failed them.  I can let them and others keep pushing me down and go back to all the guilt or I can stay and grow in the Lord.  I have changed many things in my life and they might not want to see or even care but God cared.  I don’t want bad feelings in my family, and I don’t want  you to be at this place in  your lives either.  God loves us.  He wants good in our life.  We can all change to walk a godly and purposeful life.  We were created for a purpose and need to find in God what that purpose is. 


If you are at the bottom and feel that life is not worth living I just want to encourage you to go to the Lord in prayer.  Give Him all of your concerns, your dreams, hopes, and pain (He already knows it but wants to hear from you personally).  Give it to Him and then let Him help you.  Don’t take it back leave it at the altar.  God does not mind you telling Him the truth and sharing all the “stuff” with Him.   He wants to help you.  Then learn from it so that you can help someone else in need.  Stop the pain cycle of your life.  Stop the hatred of you.  It took me years to finally give it all to God and what a relief when I did.  I want everyone to forgive me for whatever I did to hurt them in my life but many won’t.  Man is not forgiving like God.  Once He forgives He lets it go.  Many have to pay the consequences for their actions as well.  Just because God forgives us does not mean there are not consequences for the things that we did.  But even if you have to pay consequences for deeds done wrong you can rest in God and know that He loves you and wants to make your eternal life right. 

Dysfunctional families are everywhere (and so are abusive ones).  In fact, I truly don’t know one family that is not in some way dysfunctional. We don’t see behind closed doors, and we don’t see the heart of another as God does.  Stop beating yourself up and go to God.  It can truly change your mind, your heart, your life, and your eternity. If you had, or have, a dysfunctional family right now.  God can and will help you change it. Might be easy for some and a mountain for others…but we can all change and learn and get on with our life and change the cycle.










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