I recently learned that Palm trees are planted together in groups of 3 for strength. They have a very shallow root system that doesn't go very deep into the earth and this makes them susceptible to falling over in strong winds. When planted together, the shallow roots entwine with each other creating a massive tangle, similar to three people holding hands and wrapping their legs around each other. It's why Palm trees in Florida can survive hurricane winds and tsunami like waves.
Families have a root system as well. They can have a healthy root system that makes them strong like the Palm tree, or they can have an unhealthy root system that can harm the other members and make the connections weak. I remember seeing this scenerio acted out as a kid camping with my family in the local San Bernardino mountains. Crowded Evergreen trees fought to "get around" each other in an attempt to reach sunlight. In the process, the overlapping root systems resulted in many of the trees being bent, broken, and ultimately were so vulnerable to bugs that they weakened and collapsed.
Codependency is one example of a unhealthy relationship root system. Toxic behaviors choke and poison their relationships even while they are entangled together in a false sense of connection. In reality, the roots are dying and the "trees" eventually will fall or crumble apart. One client put it this way, "We love each other so much, we make each other miserable."
So what is the remedy for family strife? Here's the best advice I can give:
"Treat others as you want them to treat you."
Luke 6:31 (TLB)
So often we wait for the other person to treat us FIRST how we want to be treated, and then we sit in anger and disappointment when they don't. Notice the command is to you...not to the other person. You must act first, love first, give first, and be the best person first. This is not for the other person's sake, but because YOU are being refined into becoming a better person. Who you are is not dependent upon or defined by the actions or beliefs of another unless you agree with them. First Lady of the United States, Eleanor Roosevelt put it this way, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." So, if someone in your family accuses you of being a liar, don't lie. If someone accuses you of being abusive, don't abuse. If someone accuses you of unfaithfulness, dishonesty, cruelty, or selfish ambition; be the person you want to be and not the one you don't want to be. The truth will always be found out and proven through the evidence you live everyday.
Day 1 or 365: Truth