No two families are the same and each family, whether immediate or extended, has its own culture, way of operating and idiosyncrasies. This is understandable. No two families are equal either. While none are perfect and all have problems, some do a good job of cultivating, creating and nurturing a loving, caring, warm and respectful family environment, sincerely aiming to emulate the principles of a godly family as found in the Word of God and the characteristics of the Lord Jesus Christ. In such a family, wrong is not condoned or supported but apart from that, each member is accepted, loved, respected, appreciated, made to feel special (which they are) and each member’s contribution is equally valued and recognized.

On the other hand though, sad to say, some families have reneged on their responsibility, don’t function at all as a family in the true sense of the word, have instead failed miserably and are known as family in name and blood only. The affinity, the comradeship, the loyalty, respect, the bowels of compassion and the general concern for each other’s welfare that is usually normal in healthy families is lacking or it exists for some family members while others are treated as outcasts.

Although no family is flawless (as stated before), families are typically expected to provide that safe haven where all members can unwind and feel confident to be themselves, accepted (provided that they have not done wrong), like they matter, belong, that they are cared for, appreciated, encouraged, understood, sympathized with, are important, helped, dealt with in mercy and compassion and loved. Even when a rebuke is needed or criticism needs to be given, it is done with the welfare of the person in mind and in love, in the hope that the person will pay heed and do better or improve.

Yes, in a world that can prove to be very lonely, family is supposed to be that breathe of fresh air, that place where one can unwind and recharge, the place where the members get each other and give each other unconditional love, encouragement, respect, support and are rooting for each member’s holistic success.

Unfortunately though, while some families do a good job at this, some families are unhealthy, as they have cultivated a culture that is more like a war zone and not at all a safe haven. Some families form cliques and get along well with those within the clique, while targeting, attacking and putting down other family members outside the clique.

If you are in a family that is fraught with problems, that makes you feel miserable most of the time, down, discouraged, tense, stressed, fearful, insecure, tearful, worthless, incapable of doing anything good, incompetent and insignificant, maybe it is because you are in a dysfunctional family.

A dysfunctional family is one that does not function as it ought, in that abnormal behaviour, attitudes and modes of operating are accepted by the majority as the norm or are excused as not as bad as they are and therefore tolerable.

You are most likely in a dysfunctional family, if:

ONE – There is a culture of RESPECTER OF PERSONS and maybe even cliques.

That is, some persons are held to be in high esteem, whereas others are dismissed and considered as having little or no value. Some are treated with delicate gloves, as if they are super special, while others are treated as dogs, as if they are not even human and therefore, not even deserving of basic human dignity.

Whenever there is respecter of persons in any environment, some people get respected no matter what they do or how they behave and some get disrespected and viewed with contempt, no matter what they do or how they behave.

So of course, this results in discriminatory and prejudicial behaviour, where some are favoured and others not and this shapes the family’s perspective on everything. For example, the ones deemed to be special and significant are considered as always right, capable of no wrong and are therefore allowed to continue in negative and even wicked behaviours which are in need of being addressed and repented of, whereas the one regarded as a dog is considered to be the instigator of all or most of the family’s problems, the troublemaker, the one that is always at fault- even when this is far from the truth and even where that one is a victim of a popular member’s abuse.

The members of the family also feel the need to do two things, as if one depended on the other: On the one hand, they feel the need to constantly elevate one or more popular family members with compliments and favourable treatment (even when not deserved) and at the same time, to put down, insult or belittle another family member or members who are considered to not be important (even when such treatment is not deserved). This leads to my second point.

TWO – There is a culture of SUPPRESSION.

One or more family members are not allowed to say how they feel, when they’re hurting or have been hurt by the actions of another family member or members, are afforded little or no avenue to express their views without being put down, ignored, brushed off, silenced, insulted, belittled or dismissed.

Additionally, even if what they have to say is true, once it involves a popular family member, without any proper investigation or asking God for guidance as to what is the truth, it is regarded as a lie, as being all in the head of the unpopular family member and it is shoved under the carpet, never to be addressed.

In such as a family, attempts are made in blatant or subtle ways, to suppress one or more family members, by undermining what they do, ensuring that they are not complimented on achievements, belittling and ridiculing their efforts, ignoring what they have to say by just not listening or interrupting them while speaking or starting a conversation with another family member while they are speaking (therefore making the ones being suppressed feel as if they do not even exist, their words and opinions have no value and they have no significance or worth) and trying to drive home the point that they have nothing significant to offer and could never really be used in any mighty way by the Lord or could never measure up to the achievements or talents of another popular family member. In short, they’re made to feel as if they are nothing more than a colossal failure in life and this message is so consistently applied, whether through subtle means or otherwise, that it makes it difficult for that family member to function with the same level of confidence that the average person, coming out of a healthy family, usually functions.

If you’re constantly berated and told you’re stupid at home (sometimes not through words but actions), it is hard to go out into the world of work for example and think that you have something of value to offer an organization. It is hard to sit in an interview and convince the panel that, by reason of your accomplishments (which may be impressive), that you’re the right person for the job, when your own family doesn’t believe in you and has consistently tried for years, to get you to believe that you have nothing of worth in life to offer and are a nobody.

In some suppressive families, one or more family members are also not allowed to be themselves, to think for themselves, nor are their opinions generally welcomed, due to one or more controlling family members who want everyone to do things their way and think of members or some of them, as not capable of making decisions on their own or getting things right without their involvement. When the suppressed member or members try to assert their individuality because they know that they are human beings and that therefore, this ought to matter, this is shut down and the message is sent, even if words are not used, that they are nothing worthwhile, have nothing significant to contribute and are incompetent. Only the controlling family member or members know what to do, can be trusted to take action and excel and only the controlling family member or members have an opinion that counts or so the controlling family member or members try to brainwash other members into believing.

Accordingly, the suppressed family member or members goes out into society feeling insecure, fearful, inadequate and lacking in basic confidence, as if he or she can do nothing successfully. This has the potential to affect the person or persons at the workplace, in relationships and life in general.

THREE – There is a culture of UNFORGIVENESS.

But maybe for a few exceptions, family members are not merciful or forgiving but will hold on to a grudge and to wrongs or perceived wrongs, for days, weeks, months and even years, even if the person who offended or that is perceived as having offended is sorry and has sought repeatedly to make amends and even where they (the persons holding the grudge) have not been perfect and have also offended others, even the one they insist on holding the offence against.

FOUR – There is a culture of COLDNESS.

The family environment is not one of warmth, relaxation, compassion, caring and love. Instead, members come across as generally uncaring, unfeeling and heartless, provoke other family members to anger even without cause, are highly critical, even where criticism is not warranted, give no compliments or commendation (even when it is deserved), speak harshly, angrily and aggressively to members or especially the one or few members that the family treats as a punch bag, don’t care if a member is hurt or feels hurt by their actions, have no remorse when they make that member feel bad, never say sorry or repent of their actions and some even rejoice as if they have achieved some great feat, when their actions result in that family member feeling hurt.


When family members need help, support, understanding, love, good godly advice or a shoulder to cry on, this is generally not provided or attention is given exclusively to one or more family members, while others are completely ignored, as if they are not human beings with similar needs as well.

One or more family members are constantly ridiculed, bullied or made the subject of the rest of the family’s entertainment, no regard given to the fact that that family member or members are human beings with real feelings and deserving of basic human dignity, like everyone else.


In some dysfunctional families, members are not happy for the achievements of each other but belittle their accomplishments, cast shade on their achievements, ignore and resent them. In such a family, there is one or more family members that believe that they alone are worthy of the spotlight and therefore, they are always striving to compete with other family members or another family member, even if the competition is just one-sided.

This, especially psychological mind games, usually exist where one or more family members is fully narcissistic or has narcissistic tendencies. In such families, badmouthing and put-downs of other family members behind their backs and even around other people and guilting or accusing them even when they are not at fault are prevalent. Malice, bad treatment and verbal attacks calculated to injure are also at an all time high. This is the sort of family where the members position themselves as the enemies of their own family members or one or more of them, fighting against them, instead of fighting for them and with them. They are not interested in uplifting each other or the one that they target but in pulling each other or the victim, down.


This may be physical, verbal, psychological, emotional, sexual or some other form of abuse or neglect. Family members are generally abusive to each other in such a scenario or allow one or more persons to be abusive to one or more family members, while the others turn a blind eye and make excuses for the deplorable behaviour, considering it to be normal or acceptable, despite the effect it is having on the one or ones being subjected to the abuse.

While healthy homes, though imperfect, provide some measure of safety, security and stability for family members, in a dysfunctional family, the atmosphere is mostly toxic, as those that are the subjects of the abuse, walk around feeling tense, guarded, afraid, panicked and nervous, as there is no telling when those who abuse will be in another ‘bad’ mood and make the victim/s pay or when another attack, be it verbal or otherwise, will be launched.

In terms of verbal abuse, accusations, insults, ridicule and put-downs are commonplace and dished out regularly as if this is normal with no regard for how the recipient or recipients of this abuse feel or how devastatingly it impacts them.

Due to such abuse, the family member or family members who are the victims are made to feel totally worthless, whether through words used, the tone in which they are spoken to, the extent to which they are ignored, belittled, ridiculed and their feelings not acknowledged.

Also, due to emotional neglect, they receive no validation and rarely ever, commendation, for anything that they do and are regarded as completely insignificant and not even treated with basic human dignity. In such a household, memories are short when it comes to the positive things that the abused member or members have done and criticism is high, even if it such criticism is completely irrational, unfair in light of the facts and reveals that the true intention of the critic is not to really make things better but just to attack and insult the person or persons being criticized.

EIGHT – JESUS IS NOT PRESENT in the home or at least he is NOT PREEMINENT.

The family may be religious but even if they have a form of godliness, go to Church and are considered by that Church and the community as a God-fearing family, the truth of the matter is that Jesus is not treated as Lord within or at the fore of the family’s operations. Instead, he is outside the door, where he has been relegated and is knocking.

The family deludes itself into thinking though, that Jesus is pleased with them and their behaviour, that they are good little Christians and that he is content with all that they do purportedly for him, like going to Church and doing other religious activities, although their typical behaviour and the atmosphere they have cultivated for years and years is at variance with the Word of God and is a disgrace, in terms of how a God-fearing family should be.


Apart from the basics or if the family is in a good mood on occasion, the family does not have a good communication channel open. Issues, no matter how many are for the most part, shoved under the carpet and not addressed, no matter how serious or how they impact on one or more family members. Members keep their problems bottled up inside, not because they don’t wish to share them but because there is nobody who really cares to listen or who will believe them or take what they are saying seriously.

TEN – The dysfunction is CONSIDERED NORMAL.

Most family members, if not all, think that their family, which is not functioning at all as a healthy family, even by worldly standards is not abnormal or really bad as it is made out to be but is fine as is. They use excuses like, other families are worse and we should think positively, instead of admitting the truth about the state of the family’s dysfunction and addressing it. They don’t see a problem with anything but are content in the dysfunction and hypocrisy, see no need to change or fix or adjust anything and are fine with Jesus remaining on the outside, once people think that he is Lord within. This leads to my final point.

ELEVEN – The family is ALL ABOUT SHOW, giving an impression to the public and keeping up appearances.

That is, they are not interested in really modelling the home after what is read in the Bible and letting go of dysfunctional behaviours and attitudes but just in fooling people – Giving them the impression that the home environment is functional, godly and a success. Once they can do this, they are content for the status quo to remain.


For some people, it is hard to believe that there are families that exhibit the above characteristics (which are only a few indicators of dysfunction). For, thankfully, their family is not at all like this (although it is not perfect) and they find it hard to think that other people may be enduring such conditions at home. It is hard for them to come to terms with the fact that sometimes the families that seem to be the most loving, god-fearing and family-oriented in public are just really good actors, as they are highly dysfunctional, toxic and unhealthy behind closed doors.

However, if you are in a dysfunctional family or used to be, at least some of the characteristics listed above are sure to sound familiar to you and for some of you, they fit your family like a T. If so, you may be feeling a bit relieved right now, as, although attempts were made to condition you into believing that there was no real problem with your family or that you were the problem, you realize that it wasn’t all just in your head. You realize that your family exhibits or exhibited some or all of the symptoms above because it is or was dysfunctional. Of course they may never admit this but you realize that the truth is that they are or were.

This truth can be liberating to you, in some measure, as it enables you to finally understand why your family has been the way it has been and for so long, without change. No family is perfect and all have problems but the extent of the problems that exist or existed in yours, including the denial by the family members that there is a problem is more than the average problems encountered by a typical healthy family. In short, it is not normal and your family cannot be characterized as healthy but dysfunctional and abnormal.

Although not always, in most cases, dysfunctional families are a direct result of poor leadership in the home, either due to the absence of a proper father figure or a father figure that is present but exhibits poor or bad leadership. As a result, the walls of the family come tumbling down.

As I close, I do not propose to address how to deal with such a family as this, as I have dealt with the issue in detail in an earlier Article entitled, ‘When Family Disappoints’. If interested because your family is dysfunctional and you are feeling overwhelmed with the level of pretence and hypocrisy or you are at your wit’s end with frustration and weariness due to the toxic environment in the home and the attacks and belittlement leveled often at you from right within and you feel stuck, trapped, sad and don’t know what to do about it, I recommend that you read the Article as a continuation to this one and for a list of things that you can do.

(Written on 24th March and 3rd April, 2022)


Today, I came across an Article online on dysfunctional families, where much of what I wrote of above was mentioned plus many more indicators. Providing a detailed list of signs of dysfunction in a family, some of what the author of the Article wrote is as follows:

  • ONE – There is a lack of empathy – It is important in a healthy family for parents to be able to listen to their children’s feelings and try to empathize with their issues. It is not healthy for a child if their feelings are always being dismissed or they have no outlet to discuss the common issues that children face during their developmental years.
  • TWO – The family is unavailable – Dysfunctional families are emotionally unavailable. Whether or not the family is physically present doesn’t matter. Emotional availability is an important factor in a healthy family. If someone is emotionally checked out, they are making themselves unavailable to everyone else around them. When a family is unavailable, even if it is simply by only having superficial relationships with each other, they are likely dysfunctional.
  • THREE – Vacations are very stressful – Vacations should be a relaxed time for your family to make memories together and enjoy some free time outside of your normal routine. If you find traveling to be extremely stressful when you are with your family, this may be a sign of a dysfunctional family.
  • FOUR – You think about how you will do things differently – If you already know as a child that you will parent children one day differently than the way you are being parented, this is a red flag. Children should not be spending time noticing things in their household that they would never want to be repeated.
  • FIVE – There is unfair treatment of one or more family members – This unfair treatment frequently occurs with one (or both) of the parents due to the child’s birth order, gender, abilities…or any number of reasons. It is clear to all other members of the family that one member is being singled out and treated differently — whether positively or negatively.
  • SIX – Teasing is allowed to go too far – Families should not have a bully. Humor and teasing can be a healthy mode of interaction in families but the key to this is whether or not it feels loving and comfortable for everyone involved. In dysfunctional families, emotional abuse can be disguised as “I was just kidding, don’t be so sensitive.” This not only allows the original criticism to stand but it also adds an additional criticism of someone displaying an “incorrect” reaction to a situation. Also, this person is essentially being told that they don’t have the right to their own feelings, which is a classic sign of dysfunction.
  • SEVEN – There is constant conflict – Of course, all families have conflict sometimes but if there is never a break from the conflict in the family and people are always at odds with each other, this is a sign of dysfunction. This conflict could be verbal, physical, or even silent — but with tension so thick you could cut it. It often occurs between the parents…and is witnessed by the children.
  • EIGHT – The holidays are not joyful – No matter what types of holidays your family celebrates, there are sure to be times where the whole family gets together to try to enjoy a special meal or exchange gifts. If you dread these occasions and never find joy in them, it may be due to a dysfunctional family situation. Holidays tend to add stress and unmet expectations for everyone but a dysfunctional family can be thrown into a tailspin as a result.
  • NINE – Your family lives in silence – Silence is dysfunctional when it is used as a punishment. It disregards the worth of other people. A milder form of the silent treatment is demanding that other people guess what’s wrong with you. The problem here is not placing value on your relationship with the other person enough to actually talk about your troubles.
  • TEN – They’re dismissive – Families who fit the dysfunctional model will likely dismiss the evidence that this is true, as well as anyone who brings it up. This is usually an effort to avoid accountability. Regardless of the reasoning, dismissing family issues is toxic and causes harm to all of the members.
  • ELEVEN – There is unpredictability – If parents are extremely inconsistent, meaning a child can never be sure how his or her parents will respond to their behaviors, this is a red flag. Unpredictable behavior is often the result of drug or alcohol abuse that is intermittent. One day mom or dad is fine and the next day he or she is passed out on the couch. Another unpredictable behavior is when parents are prone to outbursts of anger, making other people in the household live in a constant state of apprehension.
  • TWELVE – You give or get double messages – Double messages occur when someone says one thing and does another. This could be as serious as an abusive parent saying, “I love you” or “I’m so sorry,” after hitting a child. This confuses the recipient and blurs the meaning of the spoken words. These messages also confuse one’s intuition. For example, if a mother tells a child, “Your father does not have a drinking problem, he just likes to have a few drinks after a long workday,” then this contradicts the evidence the child has seen.
  • THIRTEEN – They are quick to place blame – Placing blame on other people is a dangerous habit that typically occurs with victimization. Families who blame each other for their feelings or experiences are failing to take personal responsibility for their own roles in situations…
  • FOURTEEN – There’s codependency between family members – Codependency is a condition in which one family member enables the addiction, mental problem, bad behavior or immaturity of another member. Sometimes the entire family is codependent when they all cover up or pretend that a family member doesn’t have a serious problem when it’s clear that he or she does.
  • FIFTEEN – There is enmeshment – If one member of a family spends an extreme amount of time dealing with the problems of another family member or they take personal responsibility for another family member’s emotions, this is enmeshment. Boundaries exist in healthy families where everyone is responsible for dealing with their own problems. This doesn’t mean people don’t ask for help, but it also doesn’t mean family members blame each other for their personal problems. It does mean that a family member doesn’t feel personally responsible for the solution.
  • SIXTEEN – They alter the truth – Dysfunctional families often twist their intentions, experiences and even the memories that they recall, to avoid being held accountable. No matter how they distort the truth, if someone is doing it, they’re a toxic person.
  • SEVENTEEN – Abuse, addiction, and mental problems go untreated – Active abuse within a family, as well as untreated addiction or mental problems, clearly qualify a family as being dysfunctional. This dysfunction is exacerbated when the abuser or addict denies the problem and doesn’t seek treatment.
  • EIGHTEEN – You are a people pleaser – This is a survival trait that can develop as a result of being abandoned or experiencing neglect on a regular basis. Pleasing other people is an attempt to win them over when you fear their criticism. You hold onto the belief that if you’re nice enough, this person will not abandon you.
  • NINETEEN – You experience or witness abuse – Abuse can be physical, emotional or sexual. It also includes neglect from another person or witnessing fighting or someone else being abused. While your parents may not be abusing you directly, exposure to other people’s fights can be just as damaging. Any kind of abuse leaves family members in need of emotional care. Physical and sexual abuse leave obvious scars and can be easily understood by others but emotional abuse can be much more subtle, easier to deny or hide, and harder for others to understand. Some of the signs of emotional abuse include the following behaviors: Constant ridicule and criticism, Threatening, Bullying, Gaslighting, Controlling behaviors, Shaming and guilt-trips, Manipulation, Withholding love or affection, Contempt, Narcissistic behaviors, Unpredictable emotional outbursts, Verbal abuse, Sarcasm used to wound, Name-calling, Intense anger, Lack of respect, Selfish, childish behaviors (from adults), Intolerance, Extreme jealousy and suspicion, Spitefulness, Turns others against you, Regularly invalidates others in the family, Plays mind games.
  • TWENTY – There is little or no discipline – Neglect refers to a lack of basic needs but also to a lack of any discipline and structure. If no one takes on the role of being in charge due to substance abuse or emotional distress, then children are left to fend for themselves.
  • TWENTY-ONE – You wish you were in someone else’s family – Maybe you go to a friend’s house and find it peaceful or you see your neighbors next door always having fun playing in the yard. If you wish you could be a part of their family instead of your own, it could be your way of wishing you could escape.
  • TWENTY-TWO – [You are not perfect and have your own issues but] You think you’re the only normal person in your family – Everyone else seems to have some kind of issue and you can’t find an ally in any of your siblings or either of your parents…The dysfunction makes you feel isolated and lonely.
  • TWENTY-THREE – They are controlling – Families use money, threats, guilt or even some type of reward to control other people in the family [and this is] an unhealthy and harmful behavior that is one of the signs of emotional abuse mentioned earlier. Those who control try to create a power dynamic in order to get what they want at the expense of the other person’s mental, emotional or physical well-being. Excessive control can look like many things. It may be one parent controlling the other through emotional abuse, physical aggression, finances or ultimatums. It could also be parents controlling their children by not allowing them to do normal childhood things like play with friends or have any sense of independence.
  • TWENTY-FOUR – Punishment is used instead of discipline – Discipline and punishment are not the same things. Discipline involves training and teaching while punishing is just enforcing a penalty. If you have a family that only practices punishment, it is usually in the form of emotional or psychological punishment. For example, if you do something that is unacceptable to your family, they may give you the silent treatment for an extended period of time, which is psychological punishment and is toxic.
  • TWENTY-FIVE – They use threatening tactics – There are definitely some families who use threats to maintain control. For example, a family may threaten to disown a child if they make certain choices. While this may sound common, it is not acceptable and is definitely not healthy. Families who threaten each other emotionally, physically, psychologically or otherwise are toxic.
  • TWENTY-SIX – You experience role-reversal – Role-reversal within a family is when a child takes on the responsibilities of a parent. This happens when one parent is unable to fulfill his or her parenting duties due to mental problems, substance abuse, absence or any other reason. This forces the child to take on the role of a caretaker while his or her own developmental needs are not being met.
  • TWENTY-SEVEN – There is no sense of privacy – Of course, parents want to know what their children are doing, especially when it comes to online activities or when they are out with their friends. However, there are certain boundaries that should not be crossed and children should be able to have some sense of privacy, especially as the years go on. A dysfunctional family may have parents who feel like they have the right to know more than they really do. Whether this means secretly snooping or openly demanding that other members of the family share everything with them, it is crossing boundaries. Perhaps this person constantly tracks your every move and then justifies it by saying “If you aren’t doing anything wrong, I should be able to look.” This is a violation of privacy and shows there is a lack of trust. This police-like presence is damaging for a family.
  • TWENTY-EIGHT – Family members disown each other – A family can become dysfunctional when conflicts become so untenable, that members disown one another and cut each other out of family life. This disowning can involve a parent/child relationship, a grandparent, siblings or members of the extended family, who were once actively part of the family.
  • TWENTY-NINE – Children are used as pawns – A common dysfunctional parental behavior is when one parent manipulates a child in order to create an adverse outcome of some kind, to the other parent. This behavior might include gossiping about the other parent, trying to get information from the child about the other parent or trying to get the child to dislike the other parent.
  • THIRTY – Only conditional ‘love’ is offered – This is emotionally abusive behavior in which love and affection are withheld unless the other family member complies with some request, need or desire of another member. A parent might show love and approval to a child only when he or she excels in sports or academics. A wife might withhold love and affection from her husband until he gives in and acquiesces to her demands.
  • THIRTY-ONE – There’s a dogmatic or cult-like environment – This can happen in a family that is extremely religious or has cultural requirements that are strict and demanding. Often harsh and inflexible discipline is used to keep family members “inline” so they won’t question authority or develop their own opinions.
  • THIRTY-TWO – There’s a lack of support from the non-dominant parent – In dysfunctional families, one parent is often the one who will abuse or neglect the children in the family and the other parent allows the abuse to happen without intervening. The non-dominant parent may also be a victim of the other parent’s abuse or just may not want to rock the boat further, so he or she does nothing to protect the children. As a result, children take on the blame for the problems in the family and assume they are “bad” because no one has stepped in to stop the abuse.

(Addendum of external author’s Article, written on 7th April, 2022)


The fact of the matter is, that we have to come to terms with the truth, which is that some families are for our welfare but some are for our hurt. No family is perfect, not even the very loving ones but sometimes, even as the Word of God tells us, a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. They are not enemies because the person wishes them to be so but because they insist on positioning themselves as enemies.

Take Brian, a fictitious character, for example. He has been facing verbal, psychological and emotional abuse and neglect at the hands of his family for years, from childhood, right into adulthood. A particular sibling of his has been out to get him since he was little and has never stopped, always looking for something to accuse him of or to insult him with or to make him feel bad. Whenever he is around that sibling therefore, whether on the phone or in person, he automatically becomes guarded, tense, defensive because he does not know what attack will be coming next and also because he knows that that sibling does not really care about him and so, he cannot be vulnerable or himself around that person.

Additionally, Brian has been repeatedly spoken harsh to by his own father on many occasions and many times unprovoked, snapping at him harshly and making him feel really low, tense and afraid and as if he Brian was not even a human being but a dog. His father would suddenly snap at him harshly, even when Brian did nothing to provoke the attack or was talking to somebody else about a perfectly normal topic, causing Brian to shed many a tear in private, to feel scared of his own dad, to stay in his room for days and sometimes, feeling so stressed, that he wondered if he would lose his mind.

Brian’s dad was angry apparently, about Brian leaving a job that God told Brian to leave because it was dishonouring to him and Brian’s dad has been attacking Brian for days, weeks and months about it, not caring at all what the Lord’s will was about the matter.

People on the outside don’t see these attacks. They don’t see how Brian’s buttons keep getting pushed. He is being provoked on an ongoing basis, although he wants peace so badly and is treated with scant courtesy by most of his family members, who see him as insignificant, having no value and not even being worthy of dignified treatment.

Another family member also does things to push Brian’s buttons almost daily, trying their best, seemingly, to provoke him, although Brian wants peace. Every answer to Brian’s comment is met with contention and even when Brian is trying to lie low and just not say anything, this family member, not liking the peace, will come after him and do and say things calculated to get him agitated, upset, irritated and angry. There are days when Brian feels like this family member is a messenger of satan, always coming to buffet his flesh.

When Brian tries to tell other family members or people what has been happening in his family, so that he could get help, they take the side of the abusers because they are such good pretenders and accuse Brian of being the trouble maker. It has been that way since childhood. Nobody really listens. Nobody cares for the pain and the ordeal of what Brian is going through. He is expected to just take it and be unaffected and to pretend that everything is lovely in his family, when they go out in public.

Yet, this is not at all the case and Brian’s spirit is broken. He walks around feeling hurt, weary and sad because not even talking to his family about the problem will change them. Nothing short of an intervention by the Lord, will change them. He has therefore been praying to the Lord about this for years but things only seem to be going from bad to worse.

As a result of these occurrences and other traumatic events that Brian has been through in his life, both as a child and as an adult, Brian has felt lonely, trapped, suppressed, oppressed, overwhelmed on some days and he has realized that he has become angry. He is angry the most at the fact that, no matter how hard he has tried, his family does not love him. He doesn’t have the typical loving, encouraging, supportive and understanding family but one that is the opposite. He is angry that he is treated with no dignity, day in and day out, as if he is a dog and not a human being. He knows that if his family had loved him, he wouldn’t have to be searching so hard to see a glimpse of it. Love manifests itself wherever it is. It doesn’t hide itself. It doesn’t exist in his home and in relation to him and that is why he can’t find it. Also, his buttons have been pushed so many times and for so many years, that frustration and anger have built up inside and now comes out in his tone when he talks.

Brian does not deny this. He has realized it and is saddened by it and wants to get rid of it. He is not sure exactly when the anger came but realizes it is there. He has become defensive, tense, nervy, anxious, aggressive and super-guarded and given that the provocation continues, he feels like he is not getting a chance to heal of the wounds inflicted by these family members and other people.

He has decided though, to take the issue to the Lord, who is the great Physician. He has witnessed all of the abuse that Brian has suffered and continues to suffer and he can heal him of the wounds, including the anger that has built up inside, due to the years of wicked treatment, attacks and neglect.

Not surprisingly though, one of his siblings, who was instrumental in causing the anger to build up in the first place and loves to look for anything she can find to attack Brian with, recently accused Brian (as the sibling usually does), of being combative. She did this without caring for what he was going through, what he had been through, the reasons why he was coming across in the way he was coming across, why he was so guarded or of her own wicked involvement in contributing in a major way to the situation.

For, Brian has long perceived that her role is to stress him out as much as possible and then accuse him, when she sees the effects of her own provocation or anything that looks like weakness. She desperately feels the need to suppress Brian at all costs and so, like Cain did with Abel, goes after him wickedly. This is how it has always been from since childhood to date. She has hated Brian since they were little and went after him wickedly wherever she could find opportunity to do so, telling him that he was black and ugly, that he would never marry but would end up like an aunt who never did and many other insults, put-downs and harassment, calculated to make Brian feel down, unsure of himself and to have a low sense of worth. Now, as adults, she has not changed. She has never repented, although her attacks are usually now more subtle.

Typical of dysfunctional families, she contributed to the situation and then accused Brian of the situation that she helped create! Of course, she took no responsibility for it and cared not what Brian had been through and was still going through. She was simply interested in using any weakness she could find in him, as she has always done, to accuse him of something. This makes her feel better about herself and enables her to pretend to others that she is a lovely and nice person. Yet, God sees and knows so Brian has learned to rest and wait patiently for him, even as he turns himself over to the Lord to heal him of the damage his family and other people have wickedly inflicted over the years, without repentance and correct his disposition.

Of course, true to her nature, the sibling has continued with her wicked attacks, even going on Facebook and insulting Brian on her page publicly, to make him look crazy and angry in the eyes of everyone. Of course, she has been careful to hide all of her wicked and malicious attacks against Brian for years but thankfully, while she is a masterful actor and can fool people well, she can’t hide from God. He has seen everything and knows everything.

Brian has therefore decided to not fret, to try his best not to get angry anymore and to leave the issue (all of it), in the hands of God to handle. For, the situation is more than him. He is powerless in his own strength, to deliver himself from this situation, to rid himself of the anger that now comes out whenever he speaks and to right all the wrongs. God though, has all the facts and he knows what to do. He is the sovereign one and is able to help him in this unusual situation, where the family he has in his life is for the most part, for his hurt and not for his welfare.

When you’ve been damaged and you admit it and you can’t heal yourself and the people who’ve contributed to the damage don’t care that they’ve damaged you, nor do the people looking on, care to really help you, you have no choice but to look up. If like Brian, you are dealing with something similar, consider praying a prayer from your heart to the Lord, to the following effect:

“Our Father in heaven, I admit that I’ve been damaged, by my own sin and those inflicted by others. I admit that I am a mess on the inside. Please help me almighty God. Please forgive me of my endless sins, blot out my many transgressions, heal me of the inner damage in my soul, mind, body and spirit and then uphold me with the right hand of YOUR righteousness. There are so many people Lord, who want to bring me down. Let them not get the satisfaction Lord. Please help me and heal me. I look to you for deliverance. Lord Jesus, please save (restore) me from all my sin, all my issues, all the oppression, the suppression, the abuse, the attacks, the ridicule, the insults, everything and let your peace like a river, surround my soul. Father in heaven, please also give me a future where others have willed me to have none and let it all redound to your honour and glory. I ask all this in Jesus’ name, Amen.”

(Final Addendum written on 4th July, 2022)

Dear Reader, if you found the above Article to be interesting, informative, beneficial or edifying, you may also be interested in reading the following:

  • Note 9 – ‘When Family Disappoints’
  • Note 25 – ‘The Bummer Lamb’

Under the ‘SINGLE Daughters’ Page:

  • Note 208 – ‘Signs That That Work Colleague, Relative Or Church Member May Be Toxic’
  • Note 270 – ‘Did You Imagine The Abuse?’

Under the ‘BIBLE-BELIEVING Daughters’ Page:

  • Note 219 – ‘Languishing Leadership’

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