My garage is full of boxes. We are freshly married and the excess of our combined lives, lives in our garage, including everything from the wedding. It serves as the extra space for our kitchen items, our lawn games, our tools, and of course all of the wedding decor.
More recently; however, I just inherited a number of items that belonged to my late father. These boxes are also in my garage. They are filled with items that are left from his life, his passions, and his hobbies. They were once his but now they are mine.
As I have looked at them I’ve realized there are only three things I can do with these items:
- I can unpack them and let them become a part of my life,
- I can keep them in boxes and carry them around with me the rest of my life, or
- I can get rid of them.
Regardless about how I feel, or the memory associated with them, these three options remain and I find myself often wondering what to do.
I can’t help but think about how we don’t just inherit objects from our parents of family members. Sometimes we inherit things far before we inherit possessions, things like hair color, eye color, traits, personality, passions, fears, beliefs, or dare I even say it; pain.
Our family has a way of shaping our identity unlike anything else. Part of that is by design, and part of that is not. We were made to be a product of the generations before us. God tells us that both blessing and cures can follow family lines and visit up to the 4 generations. God designed this to pass down blessing…. Unfortunately, sometimes we also pass down pain.
The story of Joseph is an example of favoritism passed down. His grandmother favored his father, Jacob. Because of this, Jacob stole his brother’s birthright, causing pain and division in his family. Jacob also favored his youngest son Joseph. Joseph’s brothers were jealous of their father’s favoritism, so much so that they sold him into slavery and told his father he was dead. This characteristic trait of favoritism passed down is just one example of how we are impacted by the generations before us. It produced pain and division one generation after the other. We could talk about the example of David and the sexual promiscuity that follows his family line, or even Abraham and how there was a generational pattern of lying. The list can go on and on. One generation impacts the next both with the positive and with the negative.
The truth is we are not just what we inherited. Our identity is not the sum of the words spoken over us, the fears instilled into us, or even the pain passed down to us. We have a choice with who we will be. We may not escape this world with some imperfection that was passed down to us, but we do not need to keep passing it down. We do not need to choose the addiction, the rejection, or even the need to perform for approval that has been passed down through the generations.
As I reflect on these truths I am reminded of the boxes in my garage. The ones I inherited. I have the same choice with the negative patterns, behaviors, thoughts, feelings, and pains that I have inherited. I can keep them boxed up and carry them around with me in my life. I can take them out and let them be a part of my life, dictating who I am and how I live. Or I can get rid of them.
The last is often times is the hardest and bravest thing a person can do… change for the next generation.
My momma always said that she wanted to do better than her parents…. I think that is true for all of us. So as I reflect on this, I challenge you to ask…
What came from my family that God never intended for me and my future generations?