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Breaking the Power of the Past

"One time, Jesus entered a house, and the crowds began to gather again. Soon he and his disciples couldn't even find time to eat. When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him away. 'He's out of his mind,' they said." (Mark 3:20-21, NLT)

This week we're continuing our sermon series on "Focusing Our Lives," where we're looking at becoming more emotionally healthy. Last week we focused on the importance of looking beneath the surface of our emotions to move from awareness to understanding. What we fail to acknowledge in us controls us and may even destroy us.

This week our focus moves toward breaking the power of the past. Everybody has a family of origin and other influencers who impacted our development. Where we come from, or more literally, "who" we come from, plays a significant role in the persons we become. For some of us, the developmental foundation provided by our family and early influencers was mainly positive. Unfortunately, others struggle with emotional challenges whose origins lie in their childhood's unhealthy relational and behavioral patterns. James Hollis, a Jungian analyst, describes these as primary "woundings" that continue to play out in our later relationships.

Recognition of these less-than-positive factors in our childhood is not to play the victim or even serve as a cause to blame others for our unhealthy behaviors. Instead, understanding our inherited experiences gives us power over them to make the necessary changes that will lead to a better life. I frequently remind myself that my parents did the best they could at the time, and I am grateful for their impact on me. Just as they both positively and negatively influenced me, their parents influenced their development. Even though their parents did the best they could, they weren't perfect either. I hope I have been a better parent to my children, not because I reject my parents, but because I want to add value and experience to what they taught me.

In the scripture passage above from Mark 3, Jesus' family was concerned about the danger he was in, resulting from the high-profile ministry that pitted him against the religious establishment. Putting himself "out there" as a spiritual leader probably felt flashy and out of character for someone from Nazareth. After all, can anything good come from Nazareth? It was their concern that Jesus was endangering himself (and possibly them, too!) if he were to attract the attention of the overly controlling religious leaders, or worse yet, the Roman authorities. I can imagine his brothers saying, "Who does he think he is, challenging the religious leaders? Has he gone mad?!!!"

Jesus knew the potential negative impact of the influences of his upbringing, and that awareness allowed him to self-differentiate from his past and be his own person. Self-differentiation is the challenge for all of us as we sort through the influences that have shaped us and carve out a life for ourselves that is the life God intends for us to live. To do so, we don't have to reject the past; we merely need to understand it.

Join us this Sunday as we explore ways to break the power of our pasts and move toward healthier living.

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