Toxic Family Members > God says “Walk Away”

ToxicFamilyMembers - God says walk away

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

16 thoughts on “Toxic Family Members > God says “Walk Away”

  1. One thing I know is that your a strong person for admitting what happened to you in the past. I’ll be honest my childhood to adolescent days was not bright. As a child I saw the effect of my parent’s arguments, then I had to deal with my older half-sister’s jealousy, being shunned by my own grandfather to the point that I was accused and chased with a belt in his hand, after that a cousin older than me assaulted me sexually. But its okay with me now, I’ve managed to forgive them and I still will even if I do end up disowned or become the outcast of my family I’d always forgive them besides I know in myself that even if my fears occurs Christ, God and Mama Mary will always be watching over me in everything I do and provide the needs I’ll need in my life. Thanks for sharing your story.

  2. Dear Kerri, I have read your story about “God says walk away,” and everything you have said is correct. There is nowhere in the Word of God where Jesus wants us to be abused or tells us to be patient with those who are violating us. One time Jesus told me quite audibly “be careful who you trust. Some people can be violent.” It doesn’t surprise me that church leaders would be the very ones to accuse and even abuse you verbally by telling you that you should put up with violence . To say to a woman who has been so violently treated, that she should be patient with someone who is abusing her, tells me that that church leader himself or herself, is abusive. Didn’t the Lord very clearly say that liars, deceivers, and the ungodly will not inherit the kingdom of God? Since that is true why would these church leaders think that you should be hanging around these kind of people? And you are right about saying that we are supposed to separate ourselves from them. Personally, I don’t even care what these church leaders or anybody else thinks about you leaving your family…you have every right to protect yourself and your child/children from people who are violent, ungodly and harmful in anyway. After all, are they willing to be there for you and support you at all cost when you are being harmed? I don’t think they would bother. They are wrong and if that is their mentality then walk away and leave them to the Lord; He will deal with them. I have had to leave one of my sisters for many years now and lately I have wanted a relationship with her again and the Lord clearly told me no because she had not changed. I would have been harmed again and He did not want me to have that chaos in my life. God calls us to a life of peace; He does not call us to a life of stress, frustration, abuse, pain, hurt, fear, violence, lying, manipulation, and control. Nor does God want that kind of sin touching your beautiful daughter.

    I love what one of your readers said : “Give those people your mother’s address and tell them to go live there and exercise their patience.” If these church leaders really believed what they were saying then maybe they should go practice what they preach by staying there for a while themselves and see how long it would be before they came back begging your forgiveness!

    1. You are very blessed and a very wise woman, Cheryl. Thank you so much for sharing your comment and thoughts with me. I love that you ask, listen and follow what God etched on your heart! All the best to you! Hugs.

  3. I praise God for delivering you out of that despicable situation. Whom the Son has set free is free indeed! Give those people your mother’s address and tell them to go live there and exercise their patience. Continued blessing to you Sis!

  4. Thank you Kerri for once again shedding light on an issue that many do not understand. I too, have had to explain why certain people are no longer in my life. I just tell them that God told me to walk away and pray for them. I do not have to hang with them. Especially since my life is Christ centered now and not for the old stuff.
    Love ya sis.

    1. I am so proud of you Stuart and so blessed to have you as my younger brother in life! You are changing the lives of so many and I am so honored that you allow me to be a part of that. Hugs, little brother. What a God send you are!

  5. Kerri,
    Thanks so much for once again opening up your heart to the world. I see such a beautiful person in you — a lovely woman of God who has been through so much pain, yet shines like a ray of sunshine!

    You have just empowered so many by sharing your life, Kerri! It’s sad, to me, that any person has to defend his/her reasons for pulling away from evil. I used to feel like I owed the world a lengthy explanation of why I am not married to my ex-husband, but I don’t feel that way anymore. His actions and his choices were his alone and that is what distanced him and broke our relationship. And, he is the only one who could ever have remedied that. The same is true for you family. They’ve chosen to live in a despicable way — liars, abusers, and users, and corrupt. And, yes, it’s fine to say that because their lives are proof of that. The burden is on them to get their lives right with God first, and then right with you secondly.

    Keep dancing! Please, keep dancing!

    1. Thank you, Clara so much for your kind words and once again sharing a piece of your heart with me. Maybe the next time I am asked “Why” I will respond by saying, ‘They’ve distanced themselves from me to get their life right with God.”

      Like you, I don’t feel that I have to explain myself but at the same time I don’t want to rude and there is really no easy way to explain either of our stories without opening up a can of worms where someone will get uncomfortable or uneasy and that is what I try to avoid. I want to focus on the good and talk about the great, that is why I just say that we took different paths in life but geeessshhhh I end up explaining their path and mine too then. It’s all good though, maybe God has put them in my path for a reason I’m not seeing yet. I know writing this article brought me a sense of peace and your comments just added to that. Hugs to you,

  6. How sad that you even have to explain yourself! And you are not the first. Those who follow religion instead of Jesus see only rules and submission to power and beat discernment from people. They live John 10:10a. Spiritual people submitted to Jesus (by faith and grace) live John 10:10b. Yes, the past may still spring up (my counselor side says) so have a plan – someone who is patient, compassionate and in your corner, whether a professional or not, should be on “call”, IF it happens. As the saying goes, not just safe, but sound!

  7. You have undergone an extreme experience and my heart goes out to you. I agree entirely with you that you should forgive but also leave these people. I just want you to make sure you are truly healed by Jesus so that your forgiveness becomes a genuine thing and not something done out of a mere sense of duty.

Why hello, friend! Thanks for sharing your comments. Should you have a question, please feel free to ask it here and I'll do my best to reply promptly. Thanks for stopping by! xo Kerri