Breaking the Chain of Broken Families
“I do not want to end up like my parents.”
This is the common sentiment of people who come from broken homes. And when I say broken homes, I mean coming from a family where the parents are currently separated or divorced. While I admire that statement, I’m sure that men and women who go through a divorce did not enter into the marriage assuming it would end by breaking apart. So, when the emotions of “not wanting to end up like your parents” wear off, what can you do? Or, if you’re currently in a marriage and find yourself stuck in some unhealthy, unhelpful, or even destructive behavior, what can you do to prevent a divorce?
- Examine Yourself, and Repent
In order to prevent and overcome sinful and destructive behaviors that can lead to a broken home, we must be keenly aware of our own sinful patterns. Yet, I don’t simply mean identifying very clear and overt sin struggles, although examining yourself is not less than this. I mean identifying a root issue in your heart that perpetuates multiple sinful tendencies in your life. For example, it’s easy to identify a pattern of anxiety in your life – this is a symptom of a larger issue. You might be anxious because you have an unhealthy desire for control, and when you lack control you grow anxious because you cannot predict the outcome of a given event. An unhealthy desire for control may also result in outbursts of anger, another symptom of the larger issue. Ultimately, the goal of this is to identify some root issues in your heart that are causing multiple sinful patterns. It helps to talk with a trusted friend or counselor to identify some of these things.
- Examine Your Family of Origin
This step is an extension of examining yourself. There’s actually a tool that can help you do this called a genogram. A genogram is simply a map of your family tree up to the 3-4 generation that identifies areas of broken relationships, sinful patterns, and trauma within your family. The goal of a genogram is to become aware of sinful tendencies in your family of origin and to identify some of those sins that you carry forward. The classic Biblical example of sinful patterns being carried forward is within Abraham’s family. Pastor Bruce walks through this story in his sermon on generational sin here.
- Rejoice in God, the Gospel Restores What Was/Is Broken
There may be some genuine healing that has to occur in your life, and in the life of your family. This will take some time, but during that process I hope that you can find solace in the fact that God is in the process of making all things new. Those who follow Jesus live in the tension of a broken world while at the same time seeing a glimpse of the Kingdom of God through the ministry, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. In fact, if you are a disciple of Jesus he has called you to be an agent of restoration and reconciliation while you’re here on earth. Therefore, dealing with your broken family or preventing your family from becoming broken is vitally important. This can only happen through a keen awareness of self, coupled with a keen awareness of God’s work through Jesus Christ.