Is Your Baggage Affecting Your Kids?
by Cindi McMenamin
Do you ever wonder if your own dysfunction is rubbing off on your children?
I’ll admit I used to think about that often. Because I was raised in a home of alcoholism, co-dependency, and eventual divorce, I still have wounds that resurface now and then that can affect my choices, my emotional well-being and, ultimately, how I parent.
But a day came when I decided I don’t want to be a slave to my upbringing anymore. I wanted to be a woman who overcomes life’s hurts. The Bible says “anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT).
To have a “new life” that the Bible speaks of, we have to see our life as God sees it, not as our past hurts have defined it.
Do you see yourself according to how your past mistakes have defined you? Do you find yourself believing that you will always be a certain way? I did, too. I often found myself saying “That’s just the way I am.” But I realize now how pathetic that sounds.
Maybe, like me, you’ve found yourself defining who you are by referring to your past hurts and saying things like:
- “I have abandonment issues. I’m just that way.”
- “I will never trust another person. That’s just the way I am.”
- “I have always needed a man in my life. I’m just that way.”
- “I grew up in a home with an alcoholic so I tend to be an enabler. That’s just the way I am.”
- “Sorry I got so defensive. You should know I’m just that way.”
A sure sign that we are stuck from pain in our past is when we excuse our behavior by saying “That’s just the way I am.” Or, when we continue to believe that we can never grow beyond a certain place.
As I wrote my book, When a Woman Overcomes Life’s Hurts, I outlined 10 Steps to healing and wholeness that have helped me – and many other women and moms – overcome their dysfunction and start a new lineage of healthy families. One of the crucial steps to healing and wholeness is to renew your mind to think differently. If you have a relationship with God, the old you that was “just that way” is gone. And the new you is one that is, in essence, “just like Him.”
In Galatians 2:20, the Apostle Paul says this, which I believe is to be our motto in life: ”I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Here are two practical ways you can renew your mind and receive your new identity — the one that is “just like Him”:
- Let God Define Who You Are –This happens when you get into God’s Word and understand what He is saying to you through the Scriptures.God says you’re His friend, His beloved, a saint, unconditionally loved, forever secure, His masterpiece, and so on. Let God define who you are — not your parents, not your past, not a school teacher from long ago, or a friend who used to criticize you, or a boss who thought you weren’t capable of much.
- Lock Up the Negative Thoughts– In order to let God — and not the voices in your head — define you, you must learn to bring “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). When you hear negative thoughts from your head defining you, capture them — instead of letting them run loose. Be determined to only hear the thoughts that are obedient to God, the thoughts that are consistent with His Word’s description of you — the thoughts that say “I have loved you with an everlasting love…” (Jeremiah 31:3), “I have called you friends” (John 15:15), “you have been made complete” (Colossians 2:10), and “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).
Who are you really, mom? You are God’s beloved with the ability to do anything – including parenting your children – with God’s strength. Renew your mind — and receive your new identity — with the beautiful descriptions of you found in God’s Word.
Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and popular author who helps women strengthen their walk with God and their relationships. She is the author of several books, including When Women Walk Alone (more than 125,000 copies sold), When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter, 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom, and When a Woman Overcomes Life’s Hurts, upon which this article is based. For more on her ministry, discounts on her books, or free resources to strengthen your walk with God, your marriage, or your parenting, see her website: StrengthForTheSoul.com