Redeeming Dysfunction: How God Uses Family Pain for Good

BCC StaffFor Those Seeking Hope5 Comments

Editors note: This post is written by Carol Wright who counsels for Biblical Counseling Center.  In this series, we are featuring articles written by the women of the Biblical Counseling Center, talking about how God has shaped them for their ministry of biblical counseling.  Carol shares her story of redemption and how trusting Christ wove a “God Story” into her life.


Childhood: A longing for the normal

Life for me never seemed normal. Other kids were smarter and prettier and their parents had more money. Actually, their parents seemed ‘normal’ compared to my mother. My mother was manic depressive and schizophrenic. Life was never safe or easy. Normal was like looking through a pet shop window into a store full of puppies I could never have. A deep longing for something haunted me.

When I was barely old enough to be in school, I became a caretaker. Gradually, my duties increased. I took care of my father, the house, cooked, and did chores on the farm. Later, I even babysat my nieces and nephews so that mother could go to outpatient therapy miles away.

Several times I sat in the cold because no one was home to let me in. I was never good enough and I seemed to be the cause of all my mother’s problems. I often wondered why I was born, it felt so wrong. So, my “God Story,” if you will, is one of rescue in a different way.

God’s grace intervenes

After mucking around in sin, rolling in it, and being left empty and used by it, thumbing my nose at the notion of God, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior.

Years passed, my parents were long gone; only my beloved Aunt Jean was still in my life. She was a pray-er who had never given up on me and was thrilled to see my salvation.  She was proud of me and what I was becoming; her niece, daughter of the King.

Discovering my heritage

When my aunt died, I decided to do some research on my mother’s psychiatric records. For some odd reason, it seemed important.

Flood and years had destroyed most of what had been recorded. I was however able to find one set of records and I read them with a good friend (who happened to be an educational psychologist). After reading them, he said “Carol, I feel so sorry for you. You are mentioned only once in 13 pages as the ‘minor child.’”

I was so joyful! I realized in that moment that God had given me just the parents He wanted to make me into HIS CHILD! I was uniquely, fearfully and wonderfully made and dropped into my abnormal family in order to make me the woman I was becoming! I had purpose, was designed for a reason, I was planned and loved! God was ministering to me Himself!

Apparently, it is a well known fact that children of mentally ill parents have a 70% chance of being so inflicted themselves. (I was forced to do this research in seminary and was stunned at the statistic). I am a fully functioning adult, no longer a child of a shame based culture. I’ve been married for 35 years, attained my Masters (at age 63) and “work” in a ministry I adore.

Hindsight, seeing God’s grace at work

Not only did God deliver me into the hands of the perfect (dysfunctional) family and preserved my life, He sent me a godly aunt to give me stability and character while He drew me to Him. He delivered me from that 70% chance of mental illness. This is not to say that life has been pain or trial free, for even as I grew and ministered, I rebelled.

But, as I yielded, He developed me into a woman of strength and purpose as He groomed me to minister to others. Without life’s pains, I would have a much smaller understanding of loneliness, betrayal, mental illness, and dysfunction. To know that good can and will come from your scars is a great feeling. Knowing that the God of the universe has a plan for you that you are already seeing unfold is breathtaking.

The good result

I have such gratitude, such joy and thankfulness and I want to share that with whomever God puts in my path! When I counsel/disciple a woman and see the joy and freedom she obtains, I praise God for the trials I experienced. When a woman tells me she wishes I was her mother (or grandmother), I know redemption myself. I can’t say that Biblical counseling was what I was born for, but it certainly is my passion. And, I have never forgotten my Aunt’s prayers for me. It’s my honor to faithfully pray for those I counsel, knowing God promises a good result.

When people tell you God has a wonderful plan for your life, don’t laugh. He specializes in making broken people whole and turning evil into good. He means it when He says:

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29:11).

That is His business and He can do it for whoever comes to Him, asks and yields. The Great Commission doesn’t end with being saved, it continues with discipleship, generation to generation.


About Carol

I live with my husband of 35 years (who I’ve watched God grow into an amazing guy) and two cats, on five labor-intensive, beautiful, acres south of Michigan City. I’m involved with Michigan City’s homeless initiative. I network with several churches to help with events and attend Bible study. Loving to garden is a given but, in my down time, I paint carousel horses, bake, and read. My favorite time is early morning and my counselees can attest to me texting them my prayers for them before sunrise. Learn More.

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5 Comments on “Redeeming Dysfunction: How God Uses Family Pain for Good”

  1. Thank you for the hope you share. Our daughter is 17 years old. We adopted at birth not knowing much health history. We believe she has mental illness in her birth family and I’m grieving as her adopted mother at the choices she’s making. I pray for her, but she must still choose the path on her own. May God bring her to full healing even through her mistakes and rebellion. I know GOD is bigger, but it’s just breaking my heart to watch her walk this way.

  2. Kim, thank you for your comment. I was not saved until I was in my early 30s. It took me a long time to yield and grow in the Lord. As I look back at my rebellion and selfishness, I see a legion if people praying for me at various stages of my life. They never gave up. My message to you is to keep praying for the character of Christ in all aspects of your daughter’s life. Do NOT give up, her history does not have to be her-story.

  3. Having never known the pre-salvation Carol I rejoice with you to see the hand of God in your life. He truly trades beauty for ashes. Your life and influence attest to that!

  4. Thank you. Reading this gives me hope that each trial I am facing has a purpose. Sometimes it’s hard to understand while in it because my flesh wants to respond well actually hide and run from the trial. I guess I feel better knowing that it’s not in vain that I’m facing these things.

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