There is nothing in the world that compares to being disowned. It screams in the face of everything you intrinsically know to be true: family sticks together, parents never stop loving you, no matter how ugly the argument you will always be able to reconcile… and on it goes.
We were disowned by my husband’s family a few years ago and it has been the hardest trial we have had to endure. Hands down. Including the passing of his mother.
You see his mother had been sick for a long time and we knew that time was growing short. Certain family members were being mistreated and it was causing a serious amount of heartache that we could not sit back and watch happen. We spoke up. Our position was let’s address this and fix it before she passes or any more damage is done. Their position was she’s dying so we are going to overlook hers and others’ abuses and you better as well. That is impossible when the people being hurt are your children. My husband was handed an ultimatum: his birth family or his wife and kids. Seriously.
Suffice it to say that this was not a quick happening. There were months of arguments, threats of violence, people showing up at our home screaming and name calling, and people we didn’t even know phoning to tell us how wrong we were. With one final blow, we were barred from his mother’s funeral where his father told my parents that they could have my husband because he didn’t want him.
There is nothing in the world that compares to being disowned.
The grief, anger, guilt and rejection nearly destroyed our family. When your faith is shaky at best and you don’t know what to do with that much pain it is easy to internalize it. And then, “out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). It was agonizing. A year into it I handed my husband yet another ultimatum: seek help or seek an attorney.
We are a few years out now and things have changed. We learned some valuable lessons along the way:
- Honoring your parents (Exodus 20:12) doesn’t mean you allow them to abuse you.
There are circumstances in which the best way to honor your parents is by removing them from your life. Sounds crazy, right? Not so much when you consider that the decision to disown was on his father’s part. We are respecting his wishes and staying away. We see family members in town from time to time and though we get whispers, pointed fingers and dirty looks, we smile as if passing a stranger instead of returning the hatred. This has not come easily. It is a choice we have made.
- Finding mitigating circumstances eases the fury.
We realized that his father’s family has a long history of disowning each other. There were serious abuses that contributed to the open hostility within his birth family. We knew of some controversies which would have been explosive if exposed, so it was easier to make everyone focus on our family instead of the real issues taking place. Distractions mean nobody is inspecting your flaws. In understanding these things, it became easier to accept his birth family’s rejection.
- We are not without fault but refuse to carry guilt.
We made the effort to correct our wrongs in the situation and were met with obstinate refusal to accept. We apologized to and forgave each other. Most importantly, we confessed our sinful contribution to our Father and accepted his forgiveness.
- We forgave his family.
This was huge for us and took a very long time. We nursed a grudge for way too long. It wasn’t until we understood that our hatred and unforgiveness was hurting us were we able to start letting it go. There are still hurtful things that happen and we have to forgive them again.
- We discovered the preciousness of our family.
When someone is disowned, they begin to cherish the love they have from those who remain in their lives. Though it nearly tore us apart, through this trial, we have become determined to make our marriage work. And when your parent turns on you, it makes you realize how much your children need you to love them well and unconditionally.
- We discovered a new appreciation for being reconciled to God.
“Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.” (Romans 5:9-11) Because of this painful rejection, we are better able to grasp the significance of a restored relationship with our Heavenly Father. Our faith has been made stronger.
Being disowned is difficult. Nobody should minimize your pain. But I am here to tell you that if you press into God, He is the much-needed salve for your soul. Begin to pray for those who hurt and rejected you. Seek a godly counselor that can help you work through the myriad of emotions that arise. It is a long, arduous journey, but if you allow God to work in you, you will come out stronger and wiser.
If you are in the midst of this storm, I am praying for you. If you have survived this storm, I encourage you to share your story in the comments. There is hope. There is healing. There is forgiveness.
Abide in His Grace,
This post was shared with Marriage, Motherhood and Missions, the Hearts for Home Blog Hop, A Little R and R, Time-Warp Wife, Becoming A Godly Wife, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Essential Thing Devotions and (in)courage.