you feel guilty:
a. Afraid they might be right, or
b. Worry about hurting your family's feelings.
Afraid they might be right:
Even if the hardline Churches of Christ might be
right, that does not mean you will be lost if you disagree, and go
somewhere else. There is only one perfect Person in the Bible. All the
others were very imperfect, but they are held up for us to imitate their
faith. As we imitate their imperfect faith we are encouraged by the fact
that God accepted their faith. Perfect faith was never a requirement for
salvation in the Bible stories.
B. Worry about hurting your family's feelings:
One of the defenses that helped us survive as
children in a dysfunctional environment was to feel guilty whenever we
became angry at our parents. First of all, that guilt helped us to rein in
our anger and helped us to sustain a survivable relationship as children.
Secondly that guilt was based on the fantasy that our parents were always
right, and the reason we were unhappy was because we had not measured up
to their requirements to be loved by them. As long as we hold onto this
fantasy we have the hope that we can one day be healed by measuring up to
their requirements and finally receiving the love we need.
we give up this fantasy of their perfection, then we have to face the fact
that the amount of love we have received is all they were capable of
delivering, and to wait for more is futile. We will have to find it
elsewhere in others. And it will be difficult to have the trust in others
to deliver more love, when our first models did not deliver.
This is especially obvious in adults who still live
with their parents on into their thirties. They feel morally obligated to
take care of the needs of their parents, be their parents' best friend,
emotionally uphold their parents, and even sometimes mediate their
parents' spats. They worry if they move out they will disappoint their
parents, and that they will somehow be morally wrong for doing so. Almost
anyone can see the folly in this story.
But when it comes to leaving the family church, the
same issues apply. We cannot bear to disappoint our parents because we are
afraid we will lose out on the last shreds of love they have to offer us.
And having grown up in a sectarian household, there wasn't enough love to
go around. So we are all the more dependent on them to dole out the meager
rations of love. Guilt, in this instance, is a hanging on to the fantasy
that they are perfect, and we are shmucks for not being lovable enough.
The alternative is to believe that they are very limited parents and we
How they get you to come back to
Once you realize it is of no use to argue any longer,
it takes great effort to stop repeating the useless interactions with
family and friends. Once you extricate yourself they have almost foolproof
methods of drawing you back in:
1. The gift: How can you stay away when they
have given you such a nice gift?
2. The half-truth: Someone from your family
tells a half-truth about what you said, and the story gets back to you.
How can you resist correcting them, just this once?
3. The insult that you just have to reply to,
or at least correct their wrong understanding of who you are.
4. The nice visit that lures you into thinking
the next visit will be just as nice.
Goal: Build a loving group of friends
1. Respects your emotions: mad, sad, glad and scared.
2. Respects your boundaries: knocks before they enter
your room, calls before they come over, doesn't read your mail, lets you
make your own decisions, doesn't touch you inappropriately.
3. Respects your faith journey: you have the
right to ask questions and to explore and examine your own heart, the same
way all the great people of faith did in the Bible.
4. Doesn't make fun of you. Doesn't sneer at you. Doesn't ridicule you. Doesn't lose their temper at you.