Overcoming Dysfunction in Prayer
Then Hannah prayed:” My heart rejoices in the Lord! The Lord has made me strong. Now I have an answer for my enemies; I rejoice because you rescued me. No one is holy like the Lord! There is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God”.
Imagine you and your family are traveling on a trip. You have been looking forward to this trip. This is a time when your family gets out of the routine and spends quality time together. When you reach your destination, preparing to relax and look forward to having fun, here comes that one family member who insists on creating drama in any possible way for whoever will entertain it. That one family member ruins the experience for everyone in order to be the center of attention. Interacting in dysfunctional family units can leave your heart feeling a certain way.
In every family unit, there’s a controlling person and a submissive person. There is a power struggle for control or a submission to control. The controlling person wants the power to oversee and control everything. The submissive member keeps quiet and perhaps is trying to keep the peace. The fight for control becomes so petty that in most instances, the battle has to be picked cautiously.
The Bible shows us all types of dysfunctional family units. Adam, Abraham, and Lot were just a few of the first families to be dysfunctional.
One of my favorite stories is about the struggle of Hannah. Hannah was married to Elkanah. Elkanah had another wife named Peninnah. Every year, Elkanah would take his two wives and his children that Peninnah had and travel to Shiloh for worship. Peninnah “would taunt Hannah as they went to the Tabernacle.” Peninnah would make fun of Hannah for not being able to bear children. Hannah was “reduced to tears and would not even eat.”
As Hannah tried to explain her grief to her husband, he didn’t get it! He said, “Why aren’t you eating? Why be downhearted just because you have no children? You have me- isn’t that better than having ten sons?
Hannah’s marital situation was dysfunctional. Her husband listened to her statement, but did not hear what she desired or why it was so important to her. He minimized her concern of wanting to have a child. He was full of himself, thinking he was all she needed. He pretty much told her that he was enough for her. He had no idea how to console his wife. He made no attempts to correct or tame Peninnah for her vicious attacks on Hannah. He did not protect Hannah from the attacks. In many ways, Hannah was on her own although married. Her husband gave her “more,” but his idea or more was not the same as her idea of more. She wanted a family. She wanted a baby.
Hannah’s heart was hurt. No one understood her. Except God. Hannah prayed to God. She cried her heart out in “bitter anguish,” and she received the priest’s blessing.
Hannah distanced herself from that family dysfunction and prayed her heart out. God remembered her plea and she eventually gave birth to her son Samuel. When Samuel was born, she stopped going on those family trips to Shiloh every year. She separated herself from her husband, Peninnah, and focused on her baby and his well-being. The best part was that God had shut up Peninnah. She could no longer attack Hannah about not being able to bear children.
It’s been said that, “hurt people, hurt people.” People always hurt and are seeking to hurt others. Misery loves company and the ones who hurt the most, hurt more people.
Overcoming dysfunctional family interactions, requires us to trust God and separate ourselves from the source of the dysfunction. Pray for ourselves and that person. Let God do the rest. He will do it!
Lord, we love our family. There are some who take advantage, abuse, and confuse us. They hurt our heart. They embarrass us. Let us be bold enough to distance ourselves from the company of people who are lost and do not know that their actions and foolish ways impact everyone. We pray for these family members and turn them over to you that You may save them. Turn them from their harmful ways toward repentance. Make us strong like you did Hannah. You are our Rock and we trust you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Reflection Scriptures (NLT)
Proverbs 24:1 Don’t envy evil people or desire their company. For their hearts plot violence and their words always stir up trouble.
Isaiah 2:22 Don’t put your trust in mere humans. They are as fail as breath. What good are they?
Jeremiah 17:5 This is what the Lord says: “Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from God.”
Proverbs 13:20 Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.
I wrote The Sting of Betrayal -Part 2 this morning. After I published it, I received a notification that today is apparently my one year anniversary with Word Press! Thank you for notifying me of that. I had no idea. Interestingly, the timing of it is very significant. It’s significant because I was able to write again after a whole year went by. God made it so.
The timing of everything is very significant. Even with the little things in life. We go about our busy day, not realizing that timing, on time, delays and frustrations are all part of a bigger plan. The Bible tells us that there is a time everything. Yes there is.
Going back as far as I can remember, maybe it started with a little TV watching of How to Get Away with Murder, that I realized that Thursday night TV, including Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal have both been my overwhelmingly communicated with excitement and awe through Facebook friends for years. But I never watched either of those shows. After watching How to Get Away with Murder, I became curious about Scandal. I started watching that on Netflix. I kept watching, binge-watching even until I had watched every single episode in every single season. I still wasn’t feeling Grey’s Anatomy. I wasn’t feeling that for a long while, until I realized I stopped fast forwarding and saw the Shondaland roller coaster at the end of one show. What is Shondaland? All shows by Shonda Rhimes. It’s much more than that I’m sure. I had watched the other two shows and why not this one? Bored with nothing to do one day, and perhaps slightly curious, I decided to watch Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix. Once I made that decision, I had to watch every single episode in every single season. I started in April.
It’s now July. Being a teacher on summer break, reading books, any book for enjoyment, is essential for transitioning into summer. Reading and binge watching Netflix of course. As I am going through the digital books online from the county library, I see that Shonda Rhimes, from Shondaland, the shows that I got hooked on, had written a book called, Year of Yes, How to Dance it out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person. That’s news to me so now I have to read this book! But guess what, it’s not available and probably won’t be available for some time. That’s a good thing for her of course, because its popular. But I’m on a summer break! My time is limited. I put the book on hold anyway. There were five people in front of me who also placed a hold. I had no hope for reading this book. My summer life went on as planned. I went on vacation. Enjoyed my 18th wedding anniversary. Spent time with my family. Went sight-seeing. Went up a mountain for Fourth of July. Yes, that is a big deal because I am terrified of heights. Most of all, I relaxed. After vacation, I came home, kept watching Grey’s Anatomy until I finished season 12.
Now here’s the timing part of this show watching, book holding madness that I find interesting. After I finished watching Grey’s Anatomy, all 12 seasons, I started to watch Private Practice. I am up to the second season.
Guess what! The book became available! Wow! I just finished the last season and poof, the book was there. Maybe those 5 people who had the book on hold decided to borrow it another way or buy it. I thought about buying it too, but not on a teacher’s summer salary; which is zero by the way.
God gave me this book to read at that time. The timing was significant. How did I know? Now, I had 7 days to read it. Seven days, he made the world in seven days=significant timing.
I read the first 5 chapters right away. Can I just tell you that it was so awe-inspiring? The slightest insight into one comment made to her was mind blowing. A tiny seed of revelation changed her life!
After reading that book, I realized that I have been somewhat in a shell myself. Introverted, not wanting interaction. Then I realized why. I said yes to a major life change 4 years ago, and I was disappointed with the outcome. I feel like I am still adjusting to my new life because of that yes. I complained. I shut down. I withdrew. I pushed people away. I was grieving. Most of all, I was wrong. I had also said yes to people who, if you read Betrayed but Blessed and The Sting of Betrayal- Part 2, I should have said no to.
The details in the book that Shonda Rhimes shares about her experiences and saying yes to the hard things inspired me to start saying yes again. I said yes that whole first day after reading those 5 chapters. My husband called and asked if I wanted to go the movies, dinner, swimming, and sight-seeing or whatever. I said yes to it all. We had a wonderful day doing it all. Yes we did!
I realized I had been saying yes for a while to what I thought were little things. I said yes to a job change. I said yes to additional work tasks. I said yes to myself for eliminating toxic people from my life. I said yes to me. I also said yes to God again. He said yes to me writing again.
The timing was the most significant for me. I was able to write again today, and celebrate this Word Press Anniversary because of the timing of receiving the words from that book. Very soon, I am about to go through another life change. I said yes to this change. I hope that I am making the right choice. I hope that I am not disappointed again. I hope not to become recluse again either.
Shonda Rhimes, thank you for sharing your experiences with the world through your book. I wrote this as my way of letting you know that your book touched me and my life. God allowed that to happen. I believe that your experience and my experience collectively will inspire other women to read your book and to start saying yes to the hard things. You mentioned Beyoncé quite a bit in your book. I just realized that I have danced it out to Michelle Williams, Beyoncé, and Kelly Rowland singing that song: Say Yes! Now I have confirmation of it from both your book and their song. Ladies say yes! People say yes!
More about this timing thing, not only did I celebrate writing again and an unexpected anniversary; guess which book became available to me today? Weight Loss for People Who Feel Too Much: A 4-Step, 8-Week Plan to Finally Lose the Weight, Manage Emotional Eating, and Find Your Fabulous Self by Colette Baron-Reid. This was one of the topics in your book as well that you tackled and gained a victory by saying yes. I have been avoiding this topic for some time. I have justified it, disputed it, and rationalized it for some time now. LOL, I guess I need to say yes to reading this book now.
Timing is significant.
Family. Familia. Ohana. No matter how you say it, family is a beautiful word. It’s a blessed bond of unity that people share with other people. Family is set apart from friendship because of its unique bond. Family mainly signifies special bonds with blood relatives. Family can also be a special bond that is shared within a community, a school, a sports team, or a church. Family members love people for who they are and what they share together. That’s what makes people family; the unique bond.
I have a family. I am married to a wonderful man. We have 3 beautiful children. We are a family. Our family extends to my parents, his parents, our uncles, aunts, and cousins. We have a family. Who is my family-really? Yes, I have all of those people in a long list of blood relatives that are technically family. But are they really? Do we have a unique bond other than blood?
There comes a point in time when our blood families experience just enough dysfunction that we have to make a decision. Of course they will always be family by blood. But we were made for a special, unique bond that binds us together. God created us in his image for that reason.
When I was a little girl, I had a favorite aunt who became very ill. She was my family. She didn’t understand me, but I knew she cared about me. I knew she loved me. She treated me like her own child. Her kids, my cousins, well, I had the best of both worlds with them. They were my best friends and family.
I always felt like some thing in me was complete when I was with them. They were my family. I did crazy stuff when I was with them too, things I would never do, because I felt alive with them. I trusted them. Then my aunt died. We all died a little. My bond with my cousins died, my family died. I died a little. We were all very much alive, but there was a death of a unique family bond.
When I was a little girl, my grandmother, my Grams, was a life saver. Her presence was a blessing in the midst of my struggles at home. I had crazy struggles for someone so young. Abandonment, homelessness, and physical and emotional abuse, just to name of few. As a young girl, I was broken-spirited early in life. My grandmother would read the bible to me and my siblings when we would spend the night at her house. I didn’t get, but she didn’t stop trying to convince me that God was real. How could he be real when I had been hurt so much in my heart? I knew she prayed reverently over me. I knew she loved me. She sent me care packages when I was stationed overseas. She sent me money. I couldn’t take her money. I never cashed her check. I knew she needed it more than I did. When I was 24, she collapsed from a stroke and was hospitalized. She died. We all died a little. My bond with my family died again. I died a little more. We were all very much alive, but there was a death of a unique family bond.
My blood family died years ago. Little by little the relationships dwindled. We were left with scraps of what was once a unique family bond. But it’s not there any more. Everyone is all divided up now. Each of us were hanging on to a certain or a few blood family members like hikers on a cliff. Trying to salvage one last bit of family.
At one time in my life, I found my spiritual family too. I was adopted into a family of God. I had a spiritual mother. I had sisters and brothers. They taught me the Bible. I cherished the teachings. They helped me become a better person: a more spiritually enlightened person. After a while, that family fell apart too. That family somehow became much like a blood-bonded family. It’s all divided up now. Each of us were hanging on to a certain or a few spirit family members like hikers on a cliff. Trying to salvage one last bit of family.
There’s always one major family divider- Satan. Look at Adam. Look at Job. Look at Jesus. Families were often divided and scattered by the death of a family member or a sin infused by Satan himself. Eve took the apple that the serpent gave her. Satan made a special request to God for Job to be stricken repeatedly. Judas, part of Jesus’ disciple family, was infected by the devil’s spirit. It happened historically and it happens now. How will you survive an attack on your family? On your faith?
Who is your family? Your family is there, technically. Ask yourself some questions. Are you still wrestling with blood family drama? Or are you focused on the spirit-driven family bond; the unique family bond.
Here are some ways to know if you are uniquely bonded spiritually or blood-bonded with a family:
Critical of all your decisions.
Judgmental of everything you do.
Always asking for something, giving nothing.
Selfish with time, money, and resources.
“My way or the highway” mentality.
Comfortable with spiritual corruption; disrespectful of your beliefs.
Love is implied, but not genuinely felt.
Physical, emotional, and verbal abuse are prevalent.
Feels lonely to be around; no unity.
God is the Father. His kingdom is the family.
Accept each other as is.
Provide encouragement to one another daily.
Focused on the spiritual goals.
Being the iron that sharpens iron.
Praying for each other; with each other.
Real love and heartfelt compassion are evident.
Always a sense of safety and relief to be around.
Unified because of God’s will.
Jesus had a Father. Jesus had a family. He also had an earthly mother and father. On one occasion, Jesus’ disciples were trying to tell him that his family was there waiting to speak to him. Jesus asked his disciples, who is my family? His exact questions were: who is my mother, who are my brothers? Jesus had blood family. The more Jesus grew in wisdom, he focused less on blood family and more on God. More specifically he focused on the family of those that “do the will of God.” He focused on the unique family bond that spiritually binded him.
Jesus told his disciples, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!” (Matthew 12:49-50 NLT)
Jesus gave more words of wisdom about family: “‘I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Your enemies will be right in your own household!’ “If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.”
(Matthew 10:35-39 NLT)
Who is my family you ask? Jesus answered, “Those who do the will of God.” Focus on God and the family will follow.
It has been right about a year since I wrote “Betrayed but Still Blessed.” It has been a slow year of writing for me. I have not felt the spirit move in my writing since that article. It was heartfelt. It was real life. Truth- it still lingers. The pain that is experienced from betrayal is numbing. I went numb. I also realized that I am still angry about that situation after a year. Even though I cut that person off, thought I had forgiven her and moved on, certain conversation topics really fuel my anger all over again.
The person who betrayed me has not even attempted to apologize. She still has not accepted responsibility for her actions. She has the nerve to play the victim about this situation that she had a huge part in creating. That’s part of the reason I am still angry. She never did any of those things in the previous times when she betrayed me. Yes! She betrayed me more than once. This time was different. Even though I saw it before, this time I acknowledged it. She did it, she had been doing it, and it had to stop. Cutting the interaction was the first step to stopping the toxic flow. Just like cutting a cord, there’s no longer any power. Or is there? Why do I still feel angry?
I think my wounded pride is still suffering. I ask myself, how and why this person would do such a thing to me. Don’t they love me? Then the real questions I ask are how and why did I allow this to happen to me? Don’t I love myself? The writing had been on the wall many times before. It’s still there, even the part about her not apologizing, not accepting responsibility, and playing the victim. The cycle continued even with the cut cord. How? The cycle continued through her building allegiances with mutual people we know, family we share. I had to decide to make my own painful cuts with those people. People I love. People who were on the fence between the two of us could no longer be on my side of the fence. Why were they on the fence? Why didn’t they choose me? I am the real victim here-right? She somehow manipulated and controlled it all. Or did she?
Through the Bible and studying out characters like Joseph, who had been betrayed by this brothers; I can see that him and I have something in common. His brothers were so hateful and jealous of him that they committed the upmost betrayal ever. Since Joseph was special and gifted, they isolated him, bullied him, and plotted to kill him. Instead, they sold him and lied to their father about what happened. Yet, they still lived. Why did God allow them live after that? Shouldn’t they have been cursed to die?
Joseph just wanted to fit in with his brothers. I wanted a united family. It was my prayer for years. Joseph and I are alike in that our hearts’ desire for connection to the people, the ones we hold dear, family, led to our spiritual failure. Shouldn’t that be ok- binding with family? I know better than to allow someone to use and abuse me. My love and hope for a heartfelt connection to that person, that family member, blinded me for a time just like Joseph.
Joseph was angry. Rightfully so. He was resentful. Rightfully so. He was emotional. Rightfully so. I am all of those things. Rightfully so. What I had too see and reflect on was the fact that, while he was going through his hurt, his pain, and his hardships of life, he had God. God blessed him and he became a very powerful man. It was just Joseph and God for many years. Joseph’s brothers, after experiencing their father’s grief and years of guilt, humbled themselves and asked Joseph for forgiveness. Joseph forgave them and reunited his family. God did that.
I realized that Joseph’s experience some what mirrors mine and it’s right there in his story. The person who betrayed me: she is jealous of me. She has tried to ruin me before. She wants what I have. She has tried to steal from me: my happiness, my joy, my relationships, my peace, and my family! All of that drama created by someone I should be able to trust. Clearly, she cannot be trusted. Those “fence people” will soon know it too if they don’t already. I knew it for a long time. But, I didn’t acknowledge it. I didn’t act on it for years.
The truth is that she is jealous because of what she hasn’t gotten from me and actually can’t get from me. What she hasn’t received yet, is a true relationship with God. No, she’s not there yet. She is not worshipping God. She thinks she is but she can’t. She is her own god, worshipping herself and the ground she walks on. She is at the center of her universe. The “fence people” haven’t found God either. They are ok with her being at the center of her universe and seeking drama filled attention because they fear losing her connection. They compromise themselves and their beliefs for the family connection.
Family connection, fence people, no longer binds me. I chose my side of the fence. The side that leaves the people and turns toward God. I choose to worship him after people failed me again. Family failed me again. People turn on you, family members turn on you. They always will. God is the same forever. His kingdom is my family. I know my spiritual condition. He knows my spiritual condition. I am a survivor, not a victim, and he saved me! I have healing to do. He will help me heal. I have a relationship with him that I need to put first now. I need him. He wants me to need him. He is watching me wrestle with my sins of anger, guilt, bitterness, fault-finding, and the longing to forgive myself, that person, and the fence people. He accepts me for who I am and He is with me. God is blessing me. He will continue to bless me.
He is watching me try to get myself right in my spirit again. Oh, but when I am done wrestling; I will become a much more powerful woman. I feel it. I feel like he is still working on me. I feel like he has a wonderful path and plan for my life. He has a wonderful testimony for me!
Maybe one day there will be a door in my fence. Maybe, that person, the fence people or even myself perhaps, will want to walk through it. Until then, I can only pray for us all.
A year later, even though the sting of betrayal is still freshly there, the same words ring true: “Our responsibility is to forgive, trust God, and keep walking into our destiny.” Keep walking and hold your head up. This is still a real struggle, but God….
Betrayed but Still Blessed
Have you ever heard the saying “Et tu, Brute? The words mean: even you, Brutus? This is a saying made famous from the Shakespeare play Julius Caesar. Those words were reportedly the very last of the real life Roman dictator, Julius Caesar, upon being stabbed to death by his friend Marcus Brutus and other Roman conspirators in 44 BC. Julius Caesar experienced the ultimate betrayal of his friend.
Have you ever felt betrayed by someone close to you? If you have, then you know that person’s actions against you made you feel as if you had been stabbed literally. The hurt and the pain are more unbearable than that of being wronged by strangers. People who we hold in high regard wound us spiritually to our heart and soul when they betray us. That type of pain makes us feel grievous as though we have lost something special. Our mind is steadily wondering why. Why did that person do it? Why me? Weren’t we close? Why did I trust you? We feel bad for having trusted that person at all. We ask the same question that Julius Caesar did: even you?
Jesus knew that he would be betrayed. He called it out among his disciples. He had them wondering who it would be. The book of Luke’s account in 22:3 account says that, “Satan entered Judas, the one called Iscariot.” Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss. He approached Jesus in a loving manner with contrary intentions. Our friends and family are not immune to Satan’s evil spirits either. They are human. They will hurt us just as Judas hurt Jesus. They will appear in a loving manner yet have a plan of contrary intentions. Their actions will be rooted in evil. Although we would like to think it’s just them, we are not immune to this betrayal either. We will hurt people in our lifetime too.
The interesting turning point with Judas is that he realized what he had done. Judas was trained by the ministry of Jesus. He knew what it meant to respond to the situation as a disciple. He confessed it and he tried to return the blood money he accepted for paving the path of Jesus’ death. In the end, he accepted responsibility for his actions.
Our family and friends will probably never get to that point; at least not without prayer. We would not expect our family and friends to take their own life out of guilt the way Judas did. However, we would want them to feel cut to the heart about their actions. We would want them to have godly sorrow, not worldly sorrow about it. (2 Corinthians 7:10, “For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But, worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.”)
Confession and repentance would be appropriate, but the pride of whose right and wrong, fault-finding, and waiting on apologies, leave relationships divided.
Jesus set the example for how to deal with people who betray us. Despite what happened, he trusted God and walked into his destiny. He died a sinner’s death. Then he rose from the dead and lived to tell about it. He was blessed beyond measure. Our responsibility is to forgive, trust God, and keep walking into our destiny. God will ensure that the people who have wronged us pay for it. (2 Thessalonians 1:6 NIV, “God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you.”)
James 1:12 GNT says, “Happy are those who remain faithful under trials, because then they succeed in passing such a test, they will receive as their reward the life which God has promised to those who love him.”
Our blessings for suffering at the hands of those we love and trust are just around the corner. Prepare your hearts in order to receive them.
Welcome to the G.E.M.S. blog site. My name is Monica Cannady and I am the founder of G.E.M.S.
G.E.M.S was founded on March 25, 2007. The purpose of G.E.M.S. is to empower people spiritually using God’s word.
I hope you will be encouraged and spiritually enlightened by all that is shared here.
Thank you and God bless!