I am often asked why I don’t associate with my birth mother, my brother, and two of my half-brothers. The conversations all start with, “How is your…?” To which I reply, “I’m not really sure, I haven’t seen them or talked to them in years”. Then I am asked “Why?” To keep it simple, I just say that we took different paths in life, which sums it up in a nutshell, but that never seems to be an acceptable answer, because as soon as it’s said, the interrogation begins. At this point, I usually just say that the house I grew up in was abusive so I walked away, so I wouldn’t become a product of that environment. I am then told, in so many words, that it’s sinful and wrong that I’ve cut off ties with my family; that it doesn’t matter that they were or are abusive to me, the proper thing to do is be patient and tolerant of their sins.
I can’t stress how much I disagree with this, and how wrong this advice is. For years I was helplessly trapped in a family where I was repeatedly raped by my oldest half-brother. This happened right under my mother’s nose, while my other brothers lied and covered up the facts. They are all still, today, lying about it and covering up the facts and my mother is no exception.
Their whole lives and even now, my brothers, abuse drugs and alcohol and they commit crimes, taking not only tangible items from me, and everyone around them, but more importantly, they ruthlessly and shamelessly, desecrated and destroyed not only my childhood but also my innocence. This is on all of their hands, including my mothers and it doesn’t end there because I’m not the only one who has suffered, there are other girls in the family, as well, and then there is the emotional abuse, which for years left me nothing less than a train wreck and still haunts me at times.
I don’t believe for one second that the Lord wants me (or anyone) to be endlessly patient and tolerant of others who choose to sin, especially those who sin directly against us. If that were the case, God would find it a sin for us to protect ourselves, and He doesn’t.
Another thing God doesn’t do is consider it a sin, or even a slight disappointment, that I walked away from a family that treated me with the utmost disrespect. I was born into this family, yes, but I am not stuck with them. The bible tells us to follow those who follow him, so my relationship with family is no different than my relationship with anyone else that turns out to be “NOT the person I thought they were”. (2 Corinthians 6:14-18, 1 Corinthians 5:11-13, Hebrews 3:12, Matthew 18:20)
Choosing not to entertain the immoral, shameful, lifestyle of my toxic family members, does not make me less-Christian, or “un-Christian,” or ungodly, or anything else along those lines. What it makes me is smart.
It’s hard for a person that has never experienced abuse to understand how a family relationship could be so toxic; toxic to the point it resulted in my casting my entire family out of my life. However, some of the people that have criticized me – leaders in the church for example – have been abused themselves (Galatians 6:13) and them I say, “I’m praying for you, A LOT, because having walked in your shoes, I know your personal weakness, your struggle, and what haunts you in everyday life”. My prayer is that you come to understand the worth that God has truly placed on you, you are invaluable and I pray you find the strength to embrace that with all of your being; honoring yourself and loving yourself for all that your truly are. (1 Corinthians 10:13, Romans 12:2, Psalm 139:13-14)
Not only have I been criticized but I’ve been told that the proper thing to do is to forgive. I agree with this, forgiving is the proper thing to do for my own peace of mind. I put my trust in God, years ago learning that revenge is His alone (Romans 12:10) but I am also mindful that the Bible does not tell us to forgive unrepentant people. (Luke 17:3-4, Matthew 5:44). And nowhere in the bible are we instructed to continue on in an abusive, unhealthy, toxic relationship.
I want to add that I do believe in second chances. We are all sinners and we all make mistakes. That is why I gave my mother and each of my brothers a second chance, (third, fourth and fifth) to see if they had truly repented and changed their ways. However, after waking up at 21 years old to find my oldest half-brother (six years my senior) trying to get his hands in my underwear, as my two year-old daughter lay asleep next to me, it was clear that he had not changed at all. Once again, mother & brothers did nothing to protect me, defend my honor, or set him on the straight path – there was no accountability whatsoever. Instead, they defended him and told me to get over it. So, here I am, today. I am getting over it and shaking their shame off of my back, placing where it belongs, in their hands.
I, nor anyone else, should be mistreated. The most Godly and righteous men of God don’t have to keep going back for more. This may rock the world of those that I’ve come in contact with, those that don’t fully know me, those who have told me I’m wrong and sinful, instructing me to be patient and tolerant of these abusive family members, but hear me roar, “NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO EXPECT ME TO LIVE MY LIFE BEING ABUSED, OR TO JUDGE ME FOR TURNING MY BACK ON THEM. NO ONE.” (Matthew 4:5, James 4:1, Proverbs 31:9, James 1:26)
In the bible, patience is listed as a “gift of the Holy Spirit” and is considered a righteous person’s trait. (Galatians 5:22-23) When this is taken out of context it has a completely different meaning from the way it is presented in Scripture. “Patience”, in the Biblical context, generally refers to not losing faith in God when we are going through hard times, being patient in waiting for Him to rescue us from our trials, and persevering in our faith until we reach our reward in heaven (Proverbs 3:5-6, Psalm 27:13-14). It does NOT refer to being patient in waiting for evil people to change their ways. This is a total misrepresentation of the Word of God. Biblical “patience” NEVER refers to US being patient with wickedness, hurtfulness, abuse, or offensive behavior; that is God’s role in being patient with us. That is HIS long suffering toward US, because he is not willing to let anyone perish but that all of us to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9).
The Bible does not tell us to continue in relationships with people who have damaged us, or are still damaging us, family or not. In fact, the Scriptures are full of teachings instructing us to leave relationships with wicked or evil people, to be separate from them, to shun, outcast, and purge them from our midst. (1 Corinthians 15:33, Proverbs 13:20, Psalm 1:1, Proverbs 6:27, 1 Corinthians 5:11, 1 Corinthians 10:13 – these are just a few).
Jesus told the disciples, “But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another.” (Matthew 10:25).
God did not tell them not to love, He told them to love them from a distance, a great distance because we all must love – we are commanded to love but we are not commanded to love what the evil do.
Spreading the word and teach others about God’s love for us and encouraging them is not just taught through words, it’s taught in the way that we each live our lives. It’s the light that we shine on the world. This includes the people that we surround ourselves with (Philippians 2:16-16, John 8:12, Matthew 15:16, 1 Peter 2:9, Colossians 3:17, Ephesians 5:8 – there are so many more).
This all comes from God. I’m not making this stuff up. I encourage you to do your research and read it in the bible. Since walking away from my family, many doors have closed on my past and every time once door closes, ten more doors open; brightening my life, my future, and every relationship that has caused me sorrow and pain has been replaced with a healthy, loving relationship in the most unexpected ways and from the most unexpected people. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
All I can say is “Glory to God!” with a whole lot of dance in my step and some swing in my hips! Life is awesome!
Want to read more of Kerri’s journey in healing? Check out these post:
Dear Rapist, an Open Letter to the One Who Abducted My Innocence
My Mothers Legacy of Shame – An Open Letter – From Me, the Daughter She Didn’t Protect
My First Memory
Forgiveness, a Total Injustice