Why was I born into a dysfunctional family?

Brenda Chew // April 11, 2018, 3:58 pm


I’ve been a straight “A” student all my life.

I constantly topped my cohort – and was Head Prefect to boot! But while my life seemed perfect on the surface, it was far from that in reality.

My dad used to own a construction company, but because my mum mishandled the funds, our family ran into debts. To maintain her life of luxury, my mum borrowed money from our relatives – money which was supposed to be for our education. So my dad went back to drugs and started being abusive towards my mom.

Police visits were common due to the 3 am shouting matches and suicide attempts. I was only 12 when I had to pick my parents up from prison. At 14, I started working because I had to top up $50 to have electricity and water at home. At 17, I lived out of a luggage because there was no house to go home to.

Life in my family was tough. I was taught that family stands for “Father and Mother, I Love You.” But my sister came up with her own acronym: “Father and Mother, I Leave You”. She told her counsellor that she will never forgive my dad and wanted my parents to get a divorce.

For years, I’ve gone up for every altar call about family. I bawled my eyes out, pleading for God to intervene in my family, but disappointed and hardened – I eventually just learnt to suck it up. After all, the only breakthroughs I saw were loansharks breaking the doors of my house down.

“We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19)

I could never apply that verse to the context of my family. God often nudged my heart to love and forgive them – but I wouldn’t and I couldn’t. I even told God I didn’t care if they weren’t saved. I just wanted to be distant – numbed to the pain that they caused.

Sometimes I just went up to the altar for the sake of going up. But no matter how jaded I felt, I always saw a small glimmer of hope. Each time I placed my heart at the altar – God restored me. And when my heart was ready, breakthroughs began to appear

One of my leaders met me and asked if I was willing to forgive my father. I told her I had forgiven my father in my heart, but she asked me to verbalise it. Crying, that was when I gave up any last rights to be angry or to be the victim. God’s love helped me to forgive.

I knew I could either continue to hold onto my anger, or remind myself that He forgave me even when I didn’t deserve it.

In 2005, there was an occasion where my youth pastor suddenly looked at me and said, “I believe your family will come to Christ.”

I had dared to harbour hopes – but nothing miraculous happened. Instead the next thing to happen was being locked up with my sister in the study room by my mum, as my dad stood outside its glass door demanding it to be opened. I cried and told him to stop. He walked away, only to come back with a butcher’s knife – threatening to smash the door down if if I didn’t open it.

Subsequently, another leader prayed for me and told me he saw two pillars. One pillar represented me – holding my family together. God was that second pillar beside me.

I saw that because God was holding me – I could hold the family. Knowing I wasn’t carrying the burden alone gave me courage. Because God was shouldering my family with me, I had strength and I could persevere.

The process was long and arduous, but after 14 years, peace and reconciliation finally came to my household. Today, there’s no more shouting or fights in the house. The loudest sound these days you might hear from my home is my father’s snoring.

With the storm finally past, I now understand why God placed me in this family: My role is to bring restoration.

I used to wonder why I was born into such brokenness, but I now know that God wants to use me to bring true healing. What Jesus did for me – I was to lead my family to it as well. It sounds difficult, but knowing that I’m dearly loved by Christ no matter what, makes it easier for me to forgive and love others too.

Because He has made me victorious, I now live a life that is beyond my situation.

I gave up any last rights to be angry or to be the victim. God’s love helped me to forgive.

Filled by the love of God, I’ve come to love my own family by praying for them and speaking life into their lives. I’ve also started leaving countless of love notes filled with Bible verses on doors, cans of beers, and computer screens for them!

God wants to restore the family through me – an ambassador of Christ. I know that reconciliation within the family isn’t the end of my story. I’m still holding on to the hope that my family will come to know Jesus and be reconciled to Him.

One day, me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

The author’s name has been changed by request for confidentiality. This is a submission from a participant of our Greater Love Giveaway.