25-27One day when large groups of people were walking along with him, Jesus turned and told them, "Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one's own self!—can't be my disciple. Anyone who won't shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can't be my disciple.
Luke 14:25-27 (The Message)
Psychologists and science agree that family is one of the most defining institutions that shape us as individuals. There has been study after study done linking adverse childhood experiences to things like drug abuse, sexual addiction, alcoholism, and delinquency. The more adverse experiences one has, the more likely a person is to use any of the above vices to calm the pain.
Let's just get it out there now; none of us grew up in perfect homes. Our families hurt us because they're human and therefore broken, but the most damaging part of that is it often results in lies, bondage, and deeply etched wounds whose tentacles touch every part of our lives.
Our experiences shape our belief system, and our experience with our family often shapes how we view the world and what we believe about ourselves. So what's the solution?
We need a new experience.
Enter Jesus. His sacrifice and triumph makes it possible for anyone who wants to, to be adopted into a completely new family, a family that is capable of re-parenting us, a family that is functional, healthy, and whole. Most importantly though, a family that will give us a new experience.
If you had a father who never gave his approval, know that God is giving you His. If you had men in authority who sexually or physically abused you, know that God is the gentlest father you'll ever know. If you had a mother that constantly criticized, feel the Spirit accepting and comforting you. If you had peers and siblings that taunted and teased you, know that Jesus calls you friend and family.
The enemy thought he had destroyed us by destroying families, but God knew better and made it possible for anyone, no matter what their background, to have a brand new one. A family that loves, that restores, that heals, that saves.
As we experience God's love and a whole, healthy, and functional family, we'll begin to view both the world and ourselves differently. Our identity will no longer be a product of our upbringing, but instead a product of a loving and thriving relationship.
Family really does matter...whose family are you in?