I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren; the entire family is affected— even children in the third and fourth generations (Exodus 34:7 –NLT).
On Wednesday nights I’ve started a series on living free from fear and living a life motivated by love. Last night I mentioned that our family of origin is where our deep beliefs and behaviors are formed that we carry through life. God told the Israelites to model Him to their children in their homes from the time they get up until the time that they go to bed (Deuteronomy 6: 4-9) . The reason for this is that children learn by absorbing their environment.
What kind of environment were you raised in? What do you really believe about life, about yourself, about how others think and feel about you, about how God the Father thinks and feels about you? The answers to these questions usually lie deeply buried in your underlying thought patterns, your belief system. And the answers to these probing questions are seen by how you currently relate to those closest to you.
Can you face the reality of need and character flaws in your own life without feeling that you’re a complete and hopeless failure? Can you love others even when they fail you? Do you force others to conform to your opinions if they are allowed in your inner circle, or do you allow space for them to be themselves and for personal quirks and differences? Do you believe the best of others, or are you generally suspicious and untrusting? Do you think and feel that God is loving and affirming of you? Do you believe that He cares enough for you to help you today?
What we believe about ourselves, others and God is rooted in how we were treated in our family by our primary caregivers, which for most people would be their mothers and fathers. And we usually end up acting just like our mothers and fathers unless we determine on purpose to change! The verse I related at the beginning of this blog speaks of trans-generational sins that are passed to children through the influence of the home. Unless you take definite steps to curb it, you too will repeat the failures of your parents and will also replicate them in your children!
But there is a way of escape from this cycle! The new birth frees us from sin! And mind renewal through the Word of God can change the course of our personal journey in life. We can literally change what we were destined by conditioning to be! I’ll deal more with this in tomorrow’s blog.
Let me leave you with some signs of a functional and a dysfunctional family. What did you experience in your home as a child? You will live it out in your life unless you take measures to change it!
A functional, loving family environment is exemplified by:
Unconditional love, unconditional acceptance, forgiveness, laughter, time to work and play together, attention, fun, freedom to express emotions appropriately, sense of personal worth, compassion, comfort, honesty, freedom to have your own opinion and your own identity, objectivity, affirmation, friendship, appropriate responsibility, loving correction.
A dysfunctional family environment is exemplified by:
Alcoholism, drug addiction, workaholic tendencies, divorce, eating disorders, sexual disorders, absent father, absent mother, neglect, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, domineering father/passive mother, domineering mother/passive father, condemnation, rejection, destructive criticism, manipulation, neglect, unreality, denial, lack of objectivity, warped sense of responsibility, control, guilt, hurt and anger, loneliness.
What has influenced you? We’ll talk about it more tomorrow!