Family strongholds continue to be the seedbed for all sorts of destruction. Oftentimes we’ve grown up with these chains and they feel completely natural. We consider them part of our personality rather than a strangling yoke. -Beth Moore
I come from generations of worriers. Bonafide medical cases. Four generations of antidepressant users. Four generations of people who’ve struggled to sleep, to fix, and to let go of what they could not fix.
I am right in there with them. It’s my MO.
My grandma had laundry going by 5:00 a.m.
I also come from generations with racist tendencies, those who prefer to be served rather than serve, those who struggle with bouts of anger, and a critical spirit. These are sins that I see in myself. These are sins I spot immediately in others. I cringe. I wrestle with them and have even gone to counseling for them.
Our family physically moved to a peaceful place to fight off stress and worry. A refuge.
Who Am I?
When I look at these generational flaws I struggle to imagine myself or the people I love- without them. What would we talk about if we weren’t critical of others or didn’t have something to worry about?
What if I served without that internal grumble that wants to be served? Why do I still cower in fear at the thought of making someone angry?
These flaws are so much a part of us we’ve come to accept them as the way they’ll always be, I guess. It’s exhausting to fight for change against what is so ingrained in who we are, and who we have been… perhaps for generations.
It’s a dangerous place to be—accepting generational sin as truth can make you feel stuck, doomed to repeat the same mistakes. But whether you believe you are cursed or corrupted … you also are free. All of our sin, generational or not, has been forgiven and the presence of any curse is obliterated in light of the sacrifice that Christ made for us (Galatians 3:13). Relevant, “Breaking Generational Sin”
1. Cut the Assumptions
Have eyes to see the change God is making in others. Just because someone in the family used to have bursts of anger does not mean he/she is the same person today. Choose to see the work Christ is doing in his/her life, without bracing yourself or being on the defensive.
Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of the past. “Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.” -Isaiah 43:18-19 (NASB)
2. Change the Narrative
Families have a running narrative… comfortable, predictable conversations that are returned to over and over again. Maybe you can relate to a few of these:
I am worried about Jenny and that thug boyfriend…
I can’t stand those Republicans! Did you see the latest?
If cousin Rita would just get a job instead of hopping into bed, maybe she could get it together!
These conversations can be derailed or taken another direction, but there is the assumption that a head nod is the right and unanimous response. Humbly pray for how respond, not out of pride but love.
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ… -2 Corinthians 10:5
3. Pray Without Ceasing
Dad was an alcoholic. Grandpa was an alcoholic… We often mirror the dysfunctional patterns we see at home, even when we see how these patterns negatively affected us. It’s what we know, so we don’t how to live differently. Pray, pursue accountability and get counseling if necessary. Something else I have read quite a bit about is the need to forgive family members who have passed these traits along to us. We may not realize we carry bitterness towards someone until we deal with it head-on.
4. Be the Black Sheep, If Necessary
Changing the family narrative or being the one guy who says, “No” to a beer at the family picnic can make you an outsider. You may feel as though you don’t belong. The most important thing about being different is to have love and humility as you act and speak.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. -1 Corinthians 13:1-8a
What sins do you struggle with today that you see as a “family trait” from generations past? How is the Lord calling you to change the family narrative?