There's a disease out there. It's terrible. It's everywhere, and most people don't even recognize it as a problem. My wife and I used to suffer from it until we were cured nine years ago. It's called "Nearby Family Syndrome" (NFS). It's a nasty disease that is caused by two things: close proximity to very social extended family members, and an inability to say "no".
It's pretty easy to recognize. Whenever you need time or attention from somebody to go home teaching, or to go visiting teaching, or to come over to dinner some night, or to come help with some event, service or otherwise; and the person chronically says they can't because of any variety of non-immediate-family obligation, it's very likely that that person is suffering from NFS.
Sometimes people don't even recognize that they have it. Everybody wants to be close to their families and, of course, the best way to do that is to spend time with them. This is natural, good, and encouraged. Nevertheless, when spending time with extended family begins to prevent you from doing your duty, from providng service, or from socializing with others on a casual basis, and even from spending some alone time with your own family, then something is clearly wrong.
Typically, NFS can be cured by addressing one of the two causes. You can move away or you can learn to say "no" to your own family. It is important for people to realize that they just don't have to go to every family dinner or get-together. Before moving, we often had a hard time saying no, and since we were cured by moving, we can more deliberately plan the events that we get together (and it takes a lot of planning ...). Ironically, we actually feel closer to our parents since we now call them every week, something we never did faithfully before we moved.
I am particularly frustrated by others who suffer from NFS around me. It's vexing when I get to the end of the month without being able to go home teaching because every night that I could go (of which there are many), the family couldn't receive us at their house because of NFS-induced conflicts.
So, if you are a victim of NFS, please address it immediately. While it may not cause suffering in your own personal life, consider the lives of others who may be experiencing secondary suffering, and do something about it! After all, NFS is a preventable and curable disease. We should all work tirelessly to combat it.
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