August in the world of university student ministry means a flood of students back on campus. I can’t tell you the number of conversations recently that included students saying “home was hard this summer.” This can mean a million different things. For some it’s the fact that they got saved at the university and going back is stepping back into old ways. For some it’s that family relationships and dynamics aren’t the healthiest at home. This can be hard and can take a toll on our faith as well. So what do we do with that?
A few years back I had the chance to teach a class about unhealthy family patterns and how we can move past them into health in our lives. A few things that stood out to me in preparing for that class were:
1. Charles Dickens once said “we need not be ashamed of our tears.” Too often we look at the things that have happened in our families and our lives and we fear that if we tell others about it they will never view us the same. We cannot control what others do in our lives and even our families. There’s no reason for us to be ashamed and hide things that others have chosen to do. The more we hide those things the more we allow shame to creep into our lives and the more we live in the dark. There’s so much freedom in even being able to talk about things that have happened in and around us in our past.
2. Don’t let your past write your future. Whether your past involves decisions you have made or decisions that have been made that impacted you, the past does not dictate what your future can look like or hold. Only you can decide what your future looks like.
3. Get better not bitter. It’s easy to look at the decisions of others that have impacted us and allow ourselves to be bitter about those things and people. In order for us to be healthy and move forward we must choose to not be bitter, but rather to choose healing and health. We must choose to be better. Better comes through time with the Lord, allowing the Holy Spirit to pinpoint things and heal areas of ours lives, counseling is a great tool for healing, there’s fabulous books to help us process, and simply being open and honest with the trusted friends in our lives helps bring great healing.
For many home and family dynamics can be a hard thing. The beauty of it all is that the Lord never leaves us where we are. His desire for us is always to bring us through wherever we are into a space of healing and wholeness. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” I believe this applies in all areas of our lives, especially the hard places!