The subtitle of today’s chapter is one for each of us: breaking the power of the past. Because no matter whether your past was awful, had normal ups and downs, or idyllic, it has formed you and has hidden power that needs to be addressed (or needed to be addressed).
I realized this was for everyone when I had a teammate who had never had much go wrong in life. She grew up in a wonderfully stable family, loving siblings, went off to college (which was fun and easy), met the love of her life, they got married, had no problems getting pregnant and starting a family. It really was a wonderful life! Which on the one hand is great, but the unforeseen pitfall was that when “bad stuff” started to happen, she was completely thrown for a loop, unprepared to handle it, and it did a number on her and her faith.
Now, do I wish she’d had a rougher childhood so that she’d be better prepared for tragedy? No. But my point is, we all have been informed and formed by our past and the more we understand how, the more God can heal, grow, and cheer for us.
I appreciated how Scazzero started this chapter by saying: “Emotionally healthy spirituality is about reality, not denial or illusion. It is about embracing God’s choice to birth us into a particular family, in a particular place, at a particular moment in history.” (from Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero). He roots us firmly in the family we were born into. This past week I had lunch with someone I’ve known most of my life and I left it feeling very guilty. Our lives could not have been more different and I wondered why I was born into the family I was and she was born into the family she was. Both set us up on different paths.
I need to stop here and move on to the chapter, but my time with her disturbed me greatly and stirred up guilt over privilege. So, when I read the line I quoted above, I know God wants me, too, to embrace my reality. I’m just not sure what exactly this means. Okay, let’s talk about this more in the comments.
Have you done a genogram? Oh, man, this just came back to me, but one of the projects for my masters degree was on how our family of origin influenced us on teams that serve cross-culturally. I designed a three full day training. Maybe I should pull it out and look at it! Blast from the, wait for it, past! 🙂
In this chapter it helped me to see how the author fleshed out the generational patterns from Abraham to Joseph. Kind of puts perspective on God taking Abraham out to look at the night sky and saying his descendants were to be as numerous as the stars … and “I’m going to start with your broken family!” I hope you felt a bit braver about looking at the good and hard patterns in your family.
What did you think of the 10 Commandments? What were some of the commandments from your family? How about from the team you are a part of now? Every system is going to have commandments, so the goal isn’t to do away with them! But to know what they are and then to evaluate if they need to be changed for healthier ones.
When Scazzero wrote about compartmentalization, I thought of us in our line of work. We’ve talked about it before, but the pressures we feel to present one type of face to supporters compared to some of the boring realities we function in. Or the messages we have picked up on to work, work, work for our keep so that people “see results” and will keep supporting us. I also understand it’s okay to have different levels of connection and information and that not everyone is granted the same level of access. But when we stay so busy no one has access to how we really are, that’s a problem.
There are many directions we could go in the comments! How has your past formed you (both good and hard stuff)? See you soon …
P.S. Next week is chapter 6 in Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero.
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