Question:I am married with 2 children. My mother, father, sisters, and brothers create a lot of stress and conflict in my life. They do not follow the ways of the Lord. They consider me a hypocrite because I don't bail them out of their problems all of the time. There is so much pain that I feel because of them. Now I decided to separate myself from them totally. Am I wrong to distance myself from people who cause me on-going pain? I was raised by my Aunt most of my childhood.
What a difficult situation. It's clear that your heart's desire is to do whatever will be right and healthy for all those involved, as well as to honor the Lord.
The truth is, I can't answer your question for you. Only you can determine the best way to continue in relationship with your family members. But here are some thoughts to consider, since there's quite a spectrum of involvement found between "bailing them out of their problems all the time" and total separation.
1. Seek your husband's counsel, partnership, and support in whatever you decide is God's best in this situation for this time. Know that what God desires right now could change down the road, as well.
2. Consider the true nature of love and kindness. Bailing someone out of their poor decisions is, in fact, not kind at all. It prevents them from learning and growing; it also implies that you lack confidence in them to be able to figure out mature solutions. Your family members certainly may not see things that way, so even though it's important that you honestly tell them what you CAN'T do for them, be sure to offer to them what you CAN do. For example, "I can't pay your rent for you, but I'd love to have you over for dinner this week."
3. Consider an overall effort to start over. We serve a God of hope, and it's in hope that we extend ourselves to others who've wounded us. Perhaps these relationships need you to make the effort to offer forgiveness and reconciliation. Be specific with each family member about the pain you have received as well as have inflicted. Ask for forgiveness, offer your forgiveness and then go on. Now the responsibility lies with each of them and that is something you cannot control. They may choose to move forward with you or not. But, you have done what is right in the eyes of God.
4. Consider limited involvement with them in ways you yourself proactively initiate, feel comfortable with, and can have some control over. This could be called "The Little Way" and comes from a story of two nuns who lived together in a communal setting. The older nun greatly disliked the younger nun and life was miserable for them both. However, the older nun decided to practice what she called "The Little Way" which involved doing small acts of kindness toward the younger nun. Over the course of time, these acts of kindness became like second nature and the relationship improved. When the older nun passed away, the younger nun referred to her as her best friend. Was it because they had a natural affinity toward each other? No. It was because of a choice the older nun made to do intentional acts of kindness toward the one she disliked so much. Psychologists refer to this as 'action comes before feeling.' When we act kindly or lovingly toward someone in a deliberate attempt to improve the relationship, the feeling will eventually follow.
5. Reaffirm with the Lord Jesus that HE is your source of joy, satisfaction, peace, confidence, delight, and well-being. What your family members do to you is of little importance compared to the God of the Universe, who loves you.
God bless you as you seek to do what is right, healthy, and most honoring to Him.