The freedom we celebrated this weekend was hard won. It took fighting wars, losing lives, taking risks, and being courageous to bring about that freedom. Freedom that has been passed down for the last 239 years. The founding Fathers said,”Tyranny ends here!” By that declaration they set themselves and their children free.
We can do the same in our families. My family history is one of hurt, abuse of all kinds, addiction, and sin. My Dad’s dad abandoned his family when my dad was just a toddler. Many in my family have struggled with alcohol abuse and all the family trials that come with it. I have relatives who have abused their kids and others physically, sexually, verbally, and emotionally.
As my Mom, Cindy, wrote last month:
I developed the belief that I could change my family tree. I didn’t have to pass this way of being down to my children. I could begin to show and teach them a different way to live. We could break the cycle of abuse. My grandchildren could grow up in a different kind of home – a home where they would feel loved and cherished.
I am continuing this new family legacy in my own home. One of freedom from living as a victim of other’s sin and instead choosing healing.
This choice is not easy. I’ve been on this journey about 15 years, and I still have a long way to go.
My journey began along with my Mom’s. We realized that the perfect family we had always portrayed wasn’t the truth. It was a lie. That truth hurt. I remember a night when I stood outside with the snow swirling around me without a jacket just to feel pain outside myself instead of inside. The pain inside was eating me alive.
Through spending time with God and bringing all the hurt to Him, counseling with godly counselors, reading books like Boundaries, and Search for Significance, and in my case lots of writing (it’s the way I process information), I was able to begin healing. Begin is the right word.
When I got married, I realized I wasn’t there yet. I realized the way I saw reality wasn’t always the truth. Often it was clouded by Satan’s lies that McGee addresses in Search for Significance:
- I must meet certain standards to feel good about myself
- I must be approved of by certain others to feel good about myself
- Those who fail (including myself) are unworthy of love and deserved to be punished
- I am what I am. I cannot change. I am hopeless.
I behaved toward Jeremy and myself based on these false beliefs. I also saw Jeremy through the eyes of my dad. I had to learn to take off my glasses that were tainted with years of hurt and abuse, and learn to see what was really there. It took a lot more counseling to process the hurt and to learn to look at the world around me and at Jeremy in particular through new lenses.
Then several years later we had kids. I learned once again that healing is a process. The anger and rage I thought was gone returned. Or maybe I had just become very good at burying it. I returned to counseling once again to learn how to handle anger toward Jeremy and my kids in a healthy way. I found out something as simple as opening my hands when I became angry helped a lot. With God’s help I also had to dig deep to the source of my anger and begin healing there.
Just like with our country’s freedom all these steps took a sacrifice. I had to be willing to kill my false beliefs and replace them with the truth. I had to rage war against the hurts from my past and take away their power to control me. I had to be willing to take risks in relationships even though all I’d felt before was hurt. It all took lots of courage. Freedom for a country or a family is not easily won, but it. Is. Worth. It.
Like our founding fathers, my Mom and now myself decided It Stops with Me! I will not allow Satan to continue to pass this hurt, abuse, and sin down to the next generation. Yes, they will sin. Yes, they will have their own battles to face, but they will walk in Freedom from the sins of their fathers and from abuse.
If you’re living in hurt and pain from past sin, yours or someone else’s, please seek help. Please be courageous and free yourself and your family from its effects. Seek God first. Spend time with Him daily and ask Him to lead you to verses, safe people, and resources that will help you on your journey. Seek counseling. Seek out good books, webinars, and blogs to help you begin healing.
If you aren’t trapped by hurt from the past, celebrate your freedom! It’s possible your parents or theirs did the hard work years ago that won you your freedom. Pray for your friends who you know are hurting, then reach out to those who are trapped. Kindly support them as they begin their journey towards freedom.
This July we can begin to free our families and be truly free.