Erosion Of Godly Foundations
In light of the foreboding cultural climate of the early 20th century that we’ve explored, we can’t help but consider factors that may have contributed to the nature of the world we live in today. Natural characteristics such as creativity and vision were subdued by forced compliance. Respect turned into fear. Work ethic became drivenness. Discipline became punishment. Excellence became perfectionism. Attentive became compulsive. Faith became religiosity. The inner fiber that had defined America from its origin was becoming unraveled.
The late 1940s and 1950s saw a marked upswing in church attendance across the country; yet, in retrospect, experienced a steep decline in the “faith” of the average American family. Biblical Christianity, which had once been the cornerstone of our American heritage, had now begun to devolve into merely a stage where adults would bring their families to show others how devout, happy, and successful they were. History show this to be the start of American culture beginning to tolerate the removal of God from many aspects of American life.
It’s not difficult to begin to see the connection between “brokenness” in the souls of men in 1940s post-war America and the cultural and personal responses of every generation since. What is the nature of the shame that has been passed down? How was it communicated through each generation? What traits should we cling to, and what needs to be left in the past? We’ll dig deeply into these, and many similar questions, as the remainder of this book unfolds.
Honor with Honesty
How can we appropriately honor those who have preceded us and served our nation so sacrificially, yet at the same time be objective about the generational impact their emotional brokenness has had on the wellbeing of our souls today?
The Bible records God’s response to the prophet Micah centuries ago, as he posed a very similar question to God: “The Lord has told you what is good, and this is what He requires of you: To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8 NIV).
This passage speaks to the paradox between deserved justice (being honest about how we’ve collectively been hurt) and undeserved mercy (compassion and empathy for those who fought to defend our freedom nearly a century ago). This span can only be bridged, as we read in Micah, by our walking in humility with God, understanding in our hearts that every one of us is deserving of God’s wrath, yet graciously saved by His unending mercy.
Respect for My Elders
Before I explore the nature of the toxic shame that has become propagated – often unknowingly – through the generations of the past hundred years, I must first give honor to those who have come before me. My wonderful parents and grandparents, in their own unique ways, instilled faith, family, character, and purpose into my life. I believe that, if they were still living today, they would be proud of the man, husband, and father I have become, and I would have the chance to tell them how grateful I am for each of them.
An inherent part of living on this planet, however, is our coming to the realization that society isn’t always emotionally healthy, life isn’t always fair, and people aren’t always kind. The more pronounced these realities become, the more wounded and broken our soul will be. Despite my love for my family, my childhood wasn’t without issue, and my family-of-origin was not without its own generational stuff. And it had an effect on me.
In writing this book, I was careful to not imply that my purpose was to criticize or demean my family (or yours) in any way. I love and respect every one of my relatives very much. Concurrently though, I owe it to myself and my own family to explore the lingering effects of shame and brokenness experienced during my childhood. Without that level of honesty, unresolved shame can become a barrier to God turning my broken pieces into a masterpiece. I invite you to do the same: Honor your family. Respect yourself.
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