No doubt like the rest of us you are busy preparing for the holidays by buying gifts for family, friends, and co-workers. I don’t know about you, but I find this stressful. How do I know what they would like? What if I get them something that just ends up at Goodwill or in a white elephant swap? All that time and effort and I didn’t even come close to making them happy!
What if I told you about a gift that is worth every bit of time and money you spend on it, and continues to give for generations to come? A gift that conveys the highest level of commitment and love you can give those in your inner circle. Interested?
Unfortunately, you won’t find this gift convenient and it’s not on Amazon. It will cost you time and money. It will require courage to go places you might not choose to go. But I promise the payback is enormous! It will bless you and yours for generations to come.
Flowing Through the Generations
Scripture talks about the sins of the fathers visiting the third and fourth generations. I like to think of it this way: the patterns of the family will manifest in subsequent generations-a kind of domino effect. If we were blessed with an emotionally healthy family this is a good thing. But many of us weren’t. We may not even realize how unhealthy until we become adults and have an opportunity to see how others function. We thought we were normal! We took for granted that everyone approached life the same way. But now we know what we are doing isn’t working and we aren’t sure how to fix it.
The really good news is that we have the ability to break dysfunctional patterns and learn new, healthy behavior. In fact, I love what I do partly because I get front row seating to miracles! People really can change, but there are some prerequisites.
Admitting we need help requires humility. In fact, humility is a prerequisite to learning anything new. Think about learning a new instrument or learning to ski…usually we are pretty terrible in the beginning. I think this is why it is SO much easier to teach children. They seem to be less focused on their pride. Learning new ways of thinking and behaving may feel awkward and clumsy at first but this smooths out with practice over time.
Reaching out for help requires a willingness to be vulnerable. This can be especially hard because some of us have been burned more than a few times. The people in our lives may not be trustworthy or supportive. And yet, things can only be healed when we are willing to expose them to the light. We’re only as sick as our secrets is a maxim of the recovery community for good reason.
Learning something new requires patience. We didn’t learn our unhealthy behavior in a few weeks or months. Why do we assume years of faulty training should be fixed in a few therapy sessions? Change and growth take time and effort. And hiring professional help-such as a licensed counselor-will cost both time and money we’d probably rather spend on something fun like a cool vacation. So, what do we get for our investment?
Our behavior, our thinking, our way of relating affect everyone around us. Harriet Lerner in The Dance of Intimacy describes our interrelatedness as a dance. When we change the pattern of our steps it changes the whole dance. Relationships change because we change.
Remember that patterns flow through the generations. When we learn new ways of thinking, new ways of managing our emotions, new patterns of behavior we affect those coming after us. I’d say that’s a lot of bang for your buck!
I get really excited when I have young adults and parents in my office. The work they are doing is profoundly important because it will impact their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. In some cases, they are doing the challenging and courageous work of breaking dysfunctional generations patterns. Parenting can then be more intentional. I only wish I had known some of the things I know now when my children were little. It would have changed the way I parented them…but that’s another blog, for another day.