It was well before marriage and kids. Val and I weren’t even dating at the time. I heard this sermon by Matt Chandler. He was talking about how he would fight for the healing and restoration of the generational strongholds and sins that had been passed down to him through his family line. He continued on that he would engage in that fight even to the point of being bloodied and bruised just to see Jesus redeem those sins and strongholds simply so that his children wouldn’t have to fight those things in their own lives. He was dedicated to stopping those generational patterns in his generation so that his children would not have to be held captive to those patterns in their lives. Even if he was bloodied and bruised in the fight.*
I remember being captivated by his words. So powerful. So true. So inspiring. And yet, my heart was so naïve to what that would actually mean if I chose to apply those very words to my own life. Prior to marriage, I was fairly blind to the generational patterns and brokenness that had come to me through my family. And certainly when I got married to my husband, I had only the smallest glimpse into the generational strongholds and pain that were handed down to him through his family.
Over the last four and a half years, I have moved quickly from naivety to seeing clearly with eyes open to all that has been passed down to both Val and I through our parents and their parents and their parents. As my eyes have been opened more and more, the broken patterns that are present in our lives are not pretty. They are painful, destructive, and subtle.
Let me clarify one important thing at this point. As I talk about generational strongholds, sin, patterns and brokenness, I am speaking of ways of living and thinking that have been passed down through the generations before us. They are in all families. No one is exempt. All people by nature are sinful. Those sins when left unredeemed and unrestored affect not only ourselves, but generations to come.
It is important to point out, though, that the battle is not against our parents or the other generations before us. The battle is in the spiritual realms over the actual strongholds, sins, patterns, and brokenness. As Jesus begins to transform in us those broken patterns that we have walked in simply as a result of being raised in our specific family culture with all its specific generational sin, strongholds, and brokenness, we will often find ourselves living differently as a result of His transformation. That transformation will often include doing things differently than our parents or other generations before us, not because we are against them, but because we are healing and being restored from the broken patterns that their lives and behaviors have been ruled by. Our fight is not with our parents or previous generations, our fight is in the spiritual realms against the spiritual realities that have ruled our broken family culture. So, as Jesus redeems, heals, transforms, and restores ways of living and thinking that were broken in the generations before us, our lives often look different than the generations before us.
All that said, as I have become increasingly aware of the wave of brokenness and pain that precedes both my husband and I, I have found myself slowly engaging the battle. So afraid at first. So afraid of what people think of me. So afraid of “stepping out of line” by facing problems and pain. But I have these two little boys with whom God has entrusted me. As I consider their lives, I find myself to be bolder that I ever thought possible. I will fight with everything that is in me to stop the torrent of brokenness that has preceded Val and I, so that my little boys don’t have to walk in it. I understand now what Matt Chandler was saying when he said that we would fight ‘til he was bloodied and bruised to stop the generational sins and strongholds in his generation so that his children would not have to held captive to them.
I see a picture of myself as I engage this fight to stop the generational patterns coming up behind us. It is as if look behind me over my shoulder, and I see the giant wave coming at my back and toward my boys and I hold my arms out straight, yelling, “Enough!” And for whatever reason, the wave stops mid-air behind me. But standing there, holding it back takes everything I have.
This “Enough!” stance with my arms out wide takes me actively engaging Jesus in my own soul for Him to begin to unearth, redeem, heal, and restore all that has been handed down to me through the generations preceding me. It takes me seeing it, agreeing that it is actually there, and asking Him to change that pattern, whether it is actual sin in me that I walk in or just the affects of brokenness that are impacting me. It takes me asking Him to break places of generational strongholds. It takes me having my eyes wide open to the broken patterns and sin that have been handed down through Val’s family, and actively asking Jesus to unearth and free our family from those patterns, too. And it takes me recognizing the bigger fight going on in the spiritual realms over these patterns…the enemy wanting them to continue on into our family and ultimately destroy us…Jesus wanting to rescue, redeem, heal, and restore those patterns. Jesus wants to walk me, us, our kids into freedom, no longer bound by those broken patterns that have preceded us.
Until I married Val, I had never seen anyone actually walk out this idea of living free from generational patterns and brokenness. Instead, I had seen lots of people doing one of three other things. Either they simply continued on in that brokenness or sin, often unaware of its affects on them or their own little family, justifying it because it was the way their earlier family culture did things. Or they would react to the previous generation’s brokenness, doing the exact opposite of what their families had done, but never actually being healed, often walking directly into an “equal and opposite” broken pattern. Or, most often, I had seen others work really hard to manage their generational brokenness, keeping things in order and somewhat under control (at least for a while), but all the while never actually being freed or healed from those patterns. It was only after marrying Val that I learned how transformation actually works and how that impacts generational strongholds and sin. He has been an example to me that through transformation we actually can be free of patterns, brokenness, and sin…and not just continue or manage or react.
Continuing or reacting or managing were the only options I knew in handling brokenness. True transformation was an entirely new concept. And it was so freeing. When you only know to continue or react or manage brokenness, you hide everything…sin, pain, strongholds, broken patterns. So you can never be free, because you are guarding it all.
In transformation, you can actually say that there is something wrong in you and freely take it to Jesus. As you take it to Him, confessing that it is actually there, you have the chance to ask Him to change that in you. This change is real and also mysterious. He can actually change your heart. He can actually heal and restore old patterns, old ways of thinking, old brokenness. He can actually replace old ways in you with His new ways. As He is changing you, your part is simply to walk forward with Him. So when you are confronted with that same pattern or opportunity to sin, you are now aware of it…and He is with you in it and He can actually help you live differently. Not you “white-knucking” it, just trying your hardest to be okay, but you exposing your heart reality to Him and asking Him to enable you to walk in His new ways. You make choices now in line with the truth of His way of living…not those old patterns and sin.
This is how we are dealing with the generational stuff that keeps surfacing in our lives. We see it. We see where it came from. We see it expressed in us…or if not expressed in us, we see its affect on our lives and our little family. And we ask Jesus to change in us the power it has over us…either through its expression in our own lives (sinning, etc.) or it’s affect in our lives (being bound by family patterns, expectations, etc.).
Sometimes as I stand there with my arms held out to the wave, stopping it from crashing down on me and my husband and my boys, it can feel so intense. I don’t have to fix or heal anything on my own, but sometimes as I stand there, arms held out, saying, “Enough!” it feels as thought Jesus is doing soul surgery on me right then and there. As I am holding back the wave, He is both doing soul surgery to take out the sin and pain and brokenness and is also covering that surgery wound with His hand to heal it. In all of the intensity, I look down at my boys and I know that it is worth it so that they can be free of these patterns. I am willing to be bloodied and bruised in this fight against generational sins and strongholds so that they do not have to walk under their bondage.
I wonder about you. Maybe this is a brand new concept to you. Maybe I sound a little “crazy-spiritual” right now. Maybe you feel yourself justifying your family patterns…that it’s just the way they were/you are.
Or maybe you find your heart beating inside your chest, wondering if it is actually possible to be free of some of these things that have bound you for so long. Could this freedom from broken generational patterns be for you, too?
If either of these are you, would you just invite Jesus into your soul reality. Will you just ask Him to start showing you the freedom He has for you? Will you ask Him to begin to show you the generational sin and strongholds that are there and have preceded you? Will you then ask Him to not only redeem, but also to heal and change those patterns in you? It’s a risk and it will take time, but it will be so worth it.
To those of you who are standing there with your arms stretched out saying, “Enough!” to the brokenness that has preceded you in your family, those of you finding yourself bloodied and bruised in the fight, I am amazed at what you are doing! You are so brave. And the impact of this fight for freedom will affect generations to come.
* By the way, if anyone knows the title and date of the sermon I am referencing, will you please email me? I cannot remember nor find that exact sermon at all and would love to get ahold of it and listen to it again!