Breaking a generational curse

If we were to search through our photo albums and computer hard drives we would all find fashions that we are not so proud of.

In the 60’s it was tie die and peace signs and go go boots

In the 70’s it was bell bottoms and platform shoes and leisure suits

In the 80’s it was bright colors like say, orange, leg warmers and ripped sweatshirts and power suits with shoulder pads and pink has shirts

In the 90’s it was grunge and bare midriffs and Doc Marten’s, fanny packs and scrunchies

The new millennium brought Ugg boots and Crocs and skinny jeans and rubber bracelets

And where did they end up? Right here. In a trash bag. Best case they would be taken to Salvation Army. Worst case. They became hand me downs.

The reality is, that no matter what your birth order we all have gotten hand me downs. But not from siblings. These we got from our parents. See if you got any of these hand me downs.

Hand me down habits
Hand me down anger issues
Hand me down impatience
Any one here get a hand me down addiction?
Hand me down passive aggressive communication
Hand me down attitudes about race

Not all of our hand me downs are bad ones. Some of us got hand me down work ethic. There are people here who got hand me down financial savvy. Some got hand me down athletic ability or musical talent. Some got hand me down confidence. Not all of our hand me downs are leg warmers and suits with shoulder pads. But it’s the difficult hand me downs we remember the most.

Would you agree with this statement. Most of us spend a lifetime dealing with the results of difficult hand me downs we inherited from our family.

It’s scary to think about what we inherited. There are moments when it gets really scary. They look like this. You’re driving your car and someone cuts you off and you start spouting words that are only appropriate in a combat situation or a bowling alley. In that moment the thought occurs to you. “I sound just like my dad. I responded just like my mother.” You hated it when mom or dad did that or said that. Not you see those behaviors in you.

That’s a scary moment. Here’s a scarier one. One day you are watching your child and they exhibit that same behavior.

This is what is called a generational curse.

This idea of a generational curse is as old as time. As long as there have been people we have been passing off our hand me downs to the next generation.

As long as there have been people, there have been hand me downs. We all feel their effects. The generational curse of anger. The generational curse of alcohol. The generational curse of being passive aggressive. The generational curse of lying or favoritism. Pretty encouraging message so far, right? Let’s close in prayer

Who here would like to break that generation curse. Who’d like to stop the patterns of dysfunction we pass down. This story gives us some ideas on how we can do that. Let me take a moment to talk about

Three ways to break a generational curse

1. Own your own stuff

I think I know why it’s so hard for parents to deal with teenagers. You will leave today with the definitive answer on why it’s so hard to parent your kids when they hit junior high and high school. This has been an issue from the beginning of time hasn’t it?

Mark Twain put it like this
When a child turns 12, he should be kept in a barrel and fed through the bung hole, until he reaches 16…at which time you plug the bung hole.

So do you want to know why it’s so hard to raise a teenager. Here’s why. When kids hit 12-18 they start calling us on all of our stuff.

Here’s my point. So often we focus so much on what other people are doing that we don’t notice our own stuff. When a parent has a teenager, they notice all the mistakes the kid makes. When you’re a kid you notice all the mistakes your parents make.

2) Confess our stuff

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16

Confession, combined with prayer is a powerful tool in breaking a generational curse. Unfortunately that’s not our first instinct. When we have an issue in our life we tend to want to keep it quiet. To let it sit in the dark.

Shame hates it when we reach out and tell our story. It hates having words wrapped around it—it can’t survive being shared. Shame loves secrecy. The most dangerous thing to do after a shaming experience is hide or bury our story. When we bury our story, the shame metastasizes. I remember saying out loud: “I need to talk to someone RIGHT NOW.
Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

We all have generational junk we carry around and it’s embarrassing.
But when we confess those issues to someone we trust, that issue loses it’s power. You know what you’ll hear when you share your struggle with someone close. Here’s what I’m guessing you’ll hear. Me too! I struggle with that too!

3) Deal with your stuff harshly

This isn’t the first time I’ve talked about old fashion trends and hand me downs in church. About ten years ago I was talking about outdated fashion trends and I mentioned to pink izod shirt. Guess what some guy in the audience chose to wear that day at church. His pink izod shirt. This wasn’t some little guy either. He was about 6’ 3”, 220 pounds and he was a cop. And he found me after the service. He’s a good guy and we had a pretty good laugh about it, but it was an awkward moment. Do you know who was grateful for that moment? Any guesses. His wife. She had been trying to get rid of that shirt for years and was so excited that someone called him out on it.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24

In other words, take off your hand me down. Take off the old way of life. Get rid of it. Do whatever it takes to make that change.

If you need a counselor, go see a counselor
If you need to confess to a friend lay it all out
If you need to go to rehab, go to rehab
If you need AA, do it

Treat it harshly. You’ll be better off. Your kids will be better off. The people you work with will be better off.

I have fantastic children, but the reality is I’ve passed on some of my perfectionism and impatience and a hate for the Patriots. Who’s with me? This is how I think about my kids. I have to thing like this. Sure I’ve handed down some habits and mistakes and dysfunction. But there are also gifts I give to my children. I’m there for them. I’m praying for them. When they run into a problem I’ll be there. It’s hardest when I see that the problem they are facing is because of a hand me down I’ve given them. I hate that. But at least I can be there for them. And if I’m dealing with that issue I can help walk them through it.

I’m speaking at this parenting seminar we’re doing coming up. I’ve got several messages I’ve given at camps and churches and lots of mops groups. If you haven’t signed up, do it. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
One of the messages I’m giving at the parenting seminar is “parenting without perfection.” It always gets a good response because as people we need to hear that we don’t have to be perfect.

I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, (Jealous simply means that God doesn’t want to share you. He wants you all to himself.) punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 10 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. Deuteronomy 5:9,10

I know those verses sound a little creepy, but what God is talking about is our hand me downs. Yeah, our sins are passed down. They go three, four generations deep. You can probably follow yours back to your grandparents. You might send yours to your great grandkids. But for those people that love God, that follow him, that put him first, that legacy goes a thousand generations deep.