“The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and
gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,
keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and
sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the
fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the
fourth generation.” Exodus 34:6-7
say that God will punish children for the things that their parents choose to
do, but isn’t it simply the truth of the way things work in our fallen world? I
am currently walking through the grief of losing my mother; my father passed
away in 2006. They were not perfect, but I believe that they did the best that
they could and I know that they loved me. Sifting through all their earthly
possessions has been one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do; it
has brought back many memories, good and bad.
family’. Both of my parents drank alcohol on a daily basis, starting when they
got home from work and continuing until bedtime; they were ‘functional
alcoholics’. It never occurred to me that other families might behave
differently, because the environment that a person grows up in becomes her
definition of normal, and this was mine. We attended church until I was about
eleven years old, but I had no conception of who God is. Church was just a
place we went once a week because that’s what people were supposed to do. When
my much older brother disclosed that he was homosexual, my parents began a long
slide into depression and isolation. The year was 1969 and the culture was very
different. My parents chose to close themselves off from family and friends, and
to cover up my brother’s life choices by lying to anyone who asked about him. I
was required to do the same, thus setting up a very deep-seated stronghold of
fear and shame in my life (“…visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the
heart. I remember quite deliberately deciding that I would stop being a ‘good
girl’ and become a part of the ‘cool’ crowd, the would-be hippies who used
drugs and drank. I was terrified that my friends would find out about my
family, and I believed that this other crowd would not care even if they did. I
can look back and see God’s protection very clearly, because I did some very
foolish and dangerous things.
its end is the way to death.” Proverbs 16:25
psychologists would probably say that I was coping with my feelings of shame,
that I was numbing my pain, or self-medicating, with drugs and alcohol. Had I
ever been taken to a therapist, I probably would have been given multiple DSM
diagnoses, prescribed various psychotropic medications to control my symptoms,
and all of my problems would have been blamed on my ‘family system’. There was
a time when I resented my parents for not taking me to a counselor; now I see
it as the hand of God working in my life, shielding me before I even knew Him.
for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
where I was. From that point forward, God began to work in my life and, little
by little, I began to trust Him. Today I marvel at the way that God has
redeemed my life in spite of my past, and at the way He is working in the lives
of my children and grandchildren. Although I continue to struggle and to make
sinful choices, He is faithful. Fear, which is really unbelief, is still my
greatest battle but now I know that the battle belongs to Him, not to me.
dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will
uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
more fully grasp the promises in His word. He pulled
me out of a pit that was so deep and so dark that all I can do is fall on my
knees and praise Him, offering back to Him the life that He redeemed to be used
for His glory.
Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in
all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort
we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the
sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” 2
Jennifer: Together with my husband, I have three sons and three
grandchildren. He owns a contacting/landscaping business and I am a Licensed
Professional Counselor/Mental Health Service Provider in Tennessee. I currently
work in a Family Practice medical office on the campus of our local university
where I offer screening, brief intervention, and therapy for patients with
substance abuse problems and as a PRN Crisis Responder for youth ages 17 and
under with a nationally known organization. Although much of my work
occurs in a secular setting, it is my heart’s desire to let Christ shine
through me to touch the hearts of the hurting that He places in my path; I do
not believe that any of them come to me by accident but instead through His
sovereign will. In my spare time I enjoy my grandchildren, my dog, gardening,
scrapbooking, and writing.
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