We all have the power to greatly influence the next generation, in some way. Whether as a parent, grandparent, older sibling, teacher, pastor, mentor, coach or extended family member, we will somehow speak into the lives of those we are in authority over.
As a child, I grew up in a dysfunctional environment. I was sexually abused by a stepfather, and my mother was verbally and sometimes physically abusive. I was broken and damaged in many ways. As an adult, I made several poor choices of my own that brought more pain to my life and the lives of those I love.
That is how it often works. We act out of what we know to be true in our own hearts. Our forming years greatly shape the way we view ourselves and the world around us. Those years play a critical role in how we think and how we behave as adults.
Right or wrong, it is what it is.
The truth is, whether good or bad, we can easily pick up certain patterns of behavior or perspectives passed on to us by our parents or authority figures. If abused in some way as children, the odds are greatly stacked against us to become bitter, hard and angry adults. Just living in this broken world and enduring the hardships that come, our perspectives are shaped and that can drive certain negative patterns of behavior.
If we choose to remain in the mindset of a victim, we open ourselves up to an array of other issues like selfishness, indulgence, laziness, addiction, depression, isolation, self-mutilation, violence and other abusive tendencies. This is not an exhaustive list, but you get the idea.
Here is the good news. We don’t have to continue in the negative patterns of behavior passed down from previous generations, or even patterns we have established for ourselves. With God’s help we can break that cycle, change our course and live a better way of life.
God gives us a better way of life through His Son, Jesus Christ. He is the ultimate cycle breaker. He is the One who does the work in us and through us in order to change our course and set us on a better path. We know this to be true, because the Bible tells us, “Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things have passed away. Look, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17, MEV).
The truth is, when we place our hope in Christ, everything changes and strongholds are broken.
It is by God’s grace, through Jesus Christ, that we are set free from our sin and healed from the damage done to us by the sins of others. And, it is through the study of His Word that we learn how to live a better way of life.
Perhaps you see a pattern of negative behavior at work in your own life. Maybe you have perpetuated a cycle of abuse in your family, to some degree. Isn’t it time to break free and set yourself on the path to a better way of life?
Dear friend, we don’t have to live like the victims of someone else’s sin, because we are made victorious in Jesus Christ. Through him “all things become new.” Our part is to simply believe in, trust and take hold of the new life found in Jesus Christ.
Jesus has helped me to break the cycle of abuse in my family, once and for all. The patterns of negative behavior that I had once perpetuated have now been replaced with love and grace. He has truly made “all things new” for me and I know that, if you place your hope in him, He can and will do the same for you.
Crystal M. Sutherland is a speaker, ministry leader, mentor for survivors of childhood sexual abuse and author of Journey to Heal: Seven Essential Steps of Recovery from Childhood Sexual Abuse. Sutherland holds a MA in Theological Studies from Liberty University and has more than 18 years of ministry experience, including women’s, youth, worship and Bible teaching. She is also a biblical counselor at her church. Her work can also be found on her blog and in contributions to lifelettercafe.com.