Today @ The Gathering – “My Family Tree Gave Me Splinters”

Today @ The Gathering We continued our current series, “They Promised Me Chocolate” with installment number 3, “My Family Tree Gave Me Splinters.”

One of the most difficult realities new face in life is that it seems as if the very people at the core of our lives, those who we should be able to trust with our well-being are sometimes the first ones who disappoint us.

It is true that the closer you let a person into your life, the more they are able to hurt you, because the closer they are to you, the more you open up to them.

We gave three reasons today why family is so hard to get right.

  1. You can’t fix them.  You are born into a family of damaged people.  You marry a damaged person.  You have children who get damaged.  And when you wake up and realize you can’t fix yourself, much less them, life gets interesting.
  2. You can’t fire them. You can’t send them away because they’re your family.  You can’t give them a pink-slip and tell them not to come back because they are forever connected to you because they’re your family: in-laws, outlaws, aunts, uncles, cousins.  And your damaged family grows as your damaged family members marry damaged people.
  3. You can’t free yourself from their influence. This is one of the hardest things to get over, and that is to face the fact that our families pass onto us a lot of the wounded-ness and damage that they themselves bear.  And so the journey to health and well-being is a challenge because we’re constantly having to face not only our own issues, but many times deal with those issues through the lens of our weird families.

We talked about the four ways in which we tend to pass on our hurt and wounded-ness to our children.

  1. We tend to pass on our habits. For example if you smoke, it’s useless to tell your children not to smoke because they tend to imitate what their parents do.  If you have a habit of flying off the handle and becoming emotional, they would tend to do the very same thing.
  2. We tend to pass on our hang-ups. Children aren’t born prejudiced.  They catch it from their parents.  And their parents caught it from their parents, and it begins to spread.
  3. We tend to pass on our hurts. It’s an interesting fact of life that the hurt we receive from those who are closest to us we tend to pass on to those who are closest to us.
  4. We tend to pass on our history. Not only is it the habits of our parents, but the habits of our grandparents and our family tree.

The challenge is to break that cycle, to free yourself from the bondage of the past, from the heritage that you received that you did nothing to create.  And while it’s not just as simple as these three things, there’s something that you can start today to break the bondage of a bad heritage.

  1. At home I will be a healer, which is the never sour piece of our Bulldog Principle.  Remember, life will consistently and without warning let you down and so will your family.  But God never will.  As I begin to trust Him with my family issues, I refuse to become bitter, sour, and cynical.  How do I do that?  I make a commitment with my words and my attitudes that I will be a healer at all times.  I’ll ask myself, “Are these healing words? Is this a healing thing to do?  Will everyone win if I take this course of action?”
  2. I will be an encourager which is the never settle piece.  I will constantly spur on my children, my in-laws and outlaws and encourage them.  I’ll encourage them to aim high, dream big, and trust God for a big life, to never settle for second-best or half-hearted efforts.   It should be our family who are our greatest cheerleaders.  Often though, the sad truth is, they are not.  I will break this bondage.  I will be a healer with my words and attitudes, and I will be an encourager.
  3. I will be a bridge-builder, which means I will constantly be a source of reconciliation.  As the Scriptures say, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, this is how you serve God.”

Your family tree may have given you splinters.  You may be living today with deep disappointments, wounds and dysfunctions that were handed down by your family.  But you can break that cycle right now by re-centering your life; not with your family and their dysfunction, but with God, His goodness, and His grace that is extended to you in this moment.