As I mature in age and mature in my faith, I am starting to become more aware of the negative patterns that plague my family, including my extended family. These negative patterns have become evident in my life, and I have grown weary of their damage. I desire change. There has also been a few things that have occurred in a few of my family members lives that have shocked me to the core, results of the patterns we have been exposed to. I am not sure why I have been so emotionally sensitive, but I have wept, I have cringed, and I have worried for myself and for my family.
Oppressed by the lingering patterns that have been woven through our DNA and mirroring the characteristics that we grew up watching, we all have many learned paths that need to be dug up and repaved. Unfortunately the physical and emotional affects of things endured for some of my family members has pushed them to cope through the deception of self-protection which is truthfully self-destruction.
Alcohol has been one way my family escapes. Instead of teaching the truthfulness of alcohol and its damaging affects to the body, the goal was more to adhere to the law. We were expected to wait until we were old enough by law to then indulge just as much as those around us did. When two of my uncles passed away at young ages, largely in part to their aggressive drinking habits, I hoped that others would take note of the fatal consequences of abusing such a substance. Unfortunately, certain paths were too far engrained. The cycle of escaping pain, or unhappiness became a hand-me-down-habit, one that even I have at times succumbed to.
Another pattern that has severely oppressed my family are eating habits. We consume because we like the flavor, we consume because it gives us temporary joy, we consume because we are addicted to sugar, salt, carbohydrates, and carbonation. We consume because it makes us feel better, we consume because we are bored, we consume because we are lazy, and consume because we have never been taught boundaries. We have a genuine love and appreciation for food that has been ruined by our lack of self-control and disregard for consequences. We fight our flesh by chasing after diets, insecure of our self-image, yet consistently feeding into those insecurities all the more. It is devastating and depressing being addicted to food; a daily battle of conscience to make the better decisions. It is a force so overbearing it hurts.
Pornography is another oppression. When I was a young girl I stumbled upon other family members private collections. Some may think their secrecy was enough to hide their addictions. Whether the source of lust was discovered or not, there was definitely a lackadaisical approach to the sin. As if objectifying women or sex is a rite of passage, a stage one would grow out of. The truth is pornography is a sin and it hinders one in their walk with God and it negatively affects intimacy between spouses.
Lastly, I would like to address the negative pattern of manipulation. This has been a sneaky vice that has caused quite a stir in my family. Manipulation is lethal to relationships. I have seen this learned response in action many times, including in the way I respond to my husband. Manipulation is a way in which selfish people try to get their way. Twisting words, shrugging cold shoulders, forcing isolation, and conjuring emotions to press a burden onto others are just a few ways we manipulate. It is not a perfect strategy to get what one desires, and it hurts others along the way, yet it continues… why?
Why after so many years, after so many generations, of being abused and abusing, does my family still struggle to recognize these patterns as negative? Why is no one standing up against them, fighting to be free, fighting to be healthy, or fighting to be holy?
It takes an extreme amount of courage to say what needs to be said and to do the right thing. There is an oppression of fear that keeps us all quiet, quietly wasting away as victims and abusers. To be honest, I had fear almost keep me from writing this article, fear that those who read it will be offended. Will I lose their favor? I hope not!
My fear is greater for those who are growing up getting ready to repeat the same negative patterns, to which their kids will learn. I am standing for freedom! I am fighting against the negative patterns that have tried to ensnare me! And I hope that others would choose the same! Some already have!
Over time our learned responses and behaviors have created pathways in our brain. The more we venture down those pathways, we develop memory that will automatically direct us. It is not impossible to make new pathways, but doing so requires time, effort, patience, perseverance, and the grace of God. The question is: are we willing to endure the pruning that it takes to make those new pathways? Although it might be painful, and against the nature our environment has enabled, it will produce positive fruit, positive behavioral patterns, and a healthy legacy for the generations to come.
Note to my family: I love you so much. There is so much good that has been experienced, yet the bad that overshadows needs to be addressed. We need to stop neglecting the lies or disassociation we have created to keep these destructive patterns going. Choose LIFE! Submit your life to God and allow Him to work mightily through you. He is the great Healer, Redeemer, and Savior!