All parents are imperfect. You may have grown up in a wonderful, loving home or you may have been raised in a more difficult environment.
But either way, you’ve grown up under some form of imperfect parenting. Because our parents are our role models, we take on their positive and negative traits. It’s the negative ones that cause problems.
I grew up in the flat Texas Panhandle where there weren’t hills to stop the prevailing winds from the southwest. We didn’t have many trees, but those we had always bent or leaned away from those winds.
The constant influence shapes them. When you grow up under a negative influence, you get bent, too. These “bends” are multi-generational family sins or iniquities, like anger, perfectionism, sexism, racism, immorality, or even negativity.
I’ve never met a person who didn’t have iniquities from their past. Consider your own upbringing, and ask yourself these questions:
1. Growing up, was I exposed to biblically sound and morally correct teaching? If your parents didn’t value God’s standards and deal with things biblically, your upbringing may have become bent.
For instance, how did your family handle conflict? My family avoided it. We never talked things out. We just stopped making eye contact until things settled down. Karen’s family, on the other hand, resolved conflict by yelling…and then hugging. They dealt with it in a healthier, more biblical way.
How did your family handle money? Were they generous, miserly, or materialistic? How did your father treat your mother? Was he sexist or sacrificial? How did your mother treat your father? Was she honoring or demeaning?
2. Do you show those same behaviors today? Now that you’ve considered how your parents acted, do you see the same patterns in your own life? Most people, if answering honestly, will admit they share some of their parents’ tendencies.
Maybe not all. Perhaps you recognized your father’s chauvinism or your mother’s disrespect, and you have determined to change that in your own marriage. Good! But when we grow up bent, it is easy to fall into those same tendencies.
3. Have you dealt properly with those things you now recognize as wrong? Whether it’s simple unbiblical behavior or something more complex like abuse, you need to deal with it. Often we ignore or refuse to acknowledge it, but it’s never too late. You need to break those bent iniquities of your past off your life.
How? First, identify the problem and call it what it is: sin. Don’t get defensive of your family system. Then, take responsibility for how you have personally exhibited those behaviors. It may have begun with your parents or grandparents, but it’s just as wrong in you as in them.
Next, you must forgive your mom and dad. Even if they’re no longer living, extend them the same grace and mercy you want for yourself. This is the biggest issue in being free from your past.
Finally, make Jesus the Lord of that area of your life. Give it to him, and ask Him to transform you. Say, “Lord, I repent of this generational sin. Teach me to how to change my ways.” Only then will you break that chain of iniquity.
For more about this topic, watch this week’s show!