By Liza Borstlap
I found personal happiness as a direct result of family conflict. The interaction left deep scars and I spent many years mourning the loss of my family and my relationships with them. It remains a questionable subject and not every person that I meet fully understands the extent of the consequences of my decision.
Looking back on my history with my family, I can identify the tipping point where I made a final decision that set me completely free.
A lifetime can well be spent correcting and improving one’s own faults without bothering about others. (Edward Weston)
Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. (1 Thessalonians 4:11)
The wind blows where it pleases, you hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. (John 3:8)
We talk about family as if it is a perfect unit that shields the individual from a cruel society. We remain silent about the interference, the neglect, the labelling and toxic in-fighting that often leaves a person with a limp. We secretly cover the failures and mishaps until we can identify the black sheep that can take the blame.
I came to believe that the conflict in my family had created itself. I was suffocating from the indifference and interference in my life. The emotional agitation and stress became so unbearable that I had no inner peace left. For my own self-preservation, I became emotionally detached.
After the split, it took a long time for me to heal from the emotional damage. I hid myself away for a few years before I had the courage to look at my reality again. At first I was ashamed to admit to anyone that I had no contact with my family, which fuelled the misconception of what had actually happened. I inadvertently created a breeding field for lies to fester. I tried to compose myself by not taking other people’s emotions or perceptions too personally. I know of others who become insecure or who suffer from over-achievement, all in the pursuit of self-acceptance.
You cannot control anyone else’s journey through life. Focus on your own. Compassion, honesty, self-scrutiny, and an open mind are the only ‘one way’ to interact sanely and successfully with others. (Martha Beck)
I had many moments of doubt when I questioned my sanity. I wondered about the impact of my decision on my children and wondered if my family even missed me, but I decided that I wouldn’t conform to society’s standards just for the sake of pretence. I realised in this isolated state that other people’s opinions do not define who I am in God’s eyes. I felt freedom. There were also days when I felt completely overwhelmed by the lack of any support system. I realised I was wasting a lot of energy on negative and false emotions.
I had a choice.
I chose to stay calm and focussed on God, despite the circumstances in my life, as God really is the only constant in life.
Why do some people interfere in other people’s lives? Because they are curious… because they are control freaks… because they can ignore their own weaknesses if they focus on yours…
Life became easier when I started to focus on my own unique abilities, talents and giftings. I had complete freedom to raise my children in my own way. Only God would make it possible for us to survive and to prosper. We could tend to our own business.
Interfering in someone else’s argument is as foolish as yanking a dog’s ears. (Proverbs 26:17)
We hear that some of you are living in idleness. You are not busy working – you are busy interfering with other people’s lives! We order and encourage such people by the Lord Jesus, the Messiah, to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. Brothers, do not get tired of doing what is right. (2 Thessalonians 3:11-13)
Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. (1 Timothy 5:13)
I have a different perspective on the quality of relationships that I allow in my life today. If I don’t meet my own minimum requirements, I will always value other people’s opinions more than my own. The minute I fear rejection, I compromise my own well-being.
I often heard the statement that ‘happiness is an inside job’, but I know now that the people around me have a profound impact on my well-being. If I am dragged down by other people’s opinions about my life, or if someone is constantly reminding me about past failures, I see no value in the relationship. I am careful of people who keep lies alive through gossip or slander.
Let every fox take care of its own tail. (Italian Proverb)
Keep your nose out of another’s mess. (Denmark Proverb)
Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people. (Eleanor Roosevelt)
After many years of swinging between certainty and doubt, I found my final solace in the Bible. The Old Testament is filled with stories of family conflict and disrupted relationships. More often than not, the feud resulted in a good outcome.
I know today that God sometimes allows conflict for a specific purpose. When that happens to me, He covers me with His grace.
God has evoked conflict. The conflict causes pain and shame to every player, but God doesn’t shrink from the conflict, for a holy purpose is underway. The way of God will not be explained. (Brueggemann)
God’s grace often goes against propriety, social convention, and the ‘normal’ way for this world. (Steven Fettke)
I walk away when…
Someone gives me unsolicited advice.
I wonder if someone really wants to help me, or if they are just curious.
My situation affects someone else.
Someone intrudes on my turf.
I feel blind sighted.
I feel like a fish being reeled into someone else’s issues.
If you overhear something of note between two people, or a group of people, but the topic does not concern you or affect you in any way, then let the matter stay between the people it concerns. (Unknown)
There is nothing more provocative than minding your own business. (William S. Burroughs)
Don’t bother to ring a bell in the ear that doesn’t listen. Move to another ear, and if he doesn’t listen to your bell, sit back and listen to his nemesis. (Michael Bassey Johnson)
You would be very surprised with how much positive changes you could make in your life, if you could make it your top priority to mind your own business. (Edmond Mbiaka)
To be busy minding other people’s business, is to leave one’s personal business unattended to. (Edmond Mbiaka)
While you are too busy minding other people’s business, who is minding yours? (Edmond Mbiaka)