The families in which we grow up are life-shaping communities. And when I say “life-shaping” I mean that in the most positive sense of the term—and all other possible senses. We spend our “formative” years in the company of our nearest relatives, for better or worse, and during those years our family identity takes shape.
Our family of origin is like a planet—Planet Family—with its own distinct characteristics and its own natural laws. Things work a certain way on planet family. Like gravity on planet earth, the laws on Planet Family are invisible, but powerfully influential and verifiable by observable effects. You don’t have to study its laws. You experience them. I think you know what I mean.
In my experience, the self-contained relational system of my family of origin feels like a closed system, where things seem static, resistant to change. Over the years, I have experienced profound personal change—heart transformation, spiritual maturation and character formation—through my relationship with God and through my relationships with others in spiritual community. In so many ways I am not the same person I was.
Except on Planet Family. Except on Krypton.
If I re-enter the atmosphere of Planet Family, I am not recognized for who I am. On Krypton, my identity seems formed and fixed in history by the invisible laws of the planet. Visiting Krypton can be traumatic. Its elements seem to have a crippling effect upon me.
Any contact—a letter, a phone call, an e-mail message—can have a Kryptonite effect. It feels like my true identity is being sucked out, and like I am being squeezed into an old family mold. It feels like all the positive change is being undone.
That’s my experience. What’s yours?