Years ago, I recall creating a Family Crest/Coat of Arms as a school project. Hearing classmates share their family history--heritage, ancestry, traditions, etc. was very fascinating. As each of us presented our Family Crest before the class, the sense of individual family pride was evident.
Truth be told, most of us celebrate some aspect of our genealogy. We are fascinated, albeit, curious about our family history. Perhaps this is why we solicit the help of ancestry websites and programs to trace our lineage. But, what do we do when there are things that have occurred in our families of origin that we wish to forget? Are they ever really forgotten? How are future generations impacted by family pact to remain silent?
Someone once shared with me the story of a family that had lost a female loved one at young age (early 30s). For years, the family indicated that the cause of the young woman's death was pneumonia. Years later it was revealed that this young woman had actually been murdered by her boyfriend. It's a painfully, tragic true story. And guess what? This family is not alone.
For many families, there's a fixed rule to "protect" the family and maintain secrets at all costs. Why? Is it due to guilt, shame, embarrassment, hurt, pain? Whatever the reason secrets can be harmful because they haunt and torment. When we harbor family secrets we are perpetuating a legacy of generational bondage, hiding, and avoidance that becomes cyclical. Through our emotional bondage, hiding, and avoidance we teach the next generation unhealthy patterns and ways of coping.
But, there is good news! Cyclical/generational bondage can be broken we talk about the secrets. When secrets are exposed, they lose their energy and power over our lives. The weight of darkness and oppression is lifted. We leave a posterity of freedom from the bondage of family secrets for future generations when we make a decision to yank the covers off the darkness that has cloaked the family line.
You may be thinking, This sounds scary and threatening. Or, I don't think this will go over well with my family. Well, I can agree with you on those thoughts. Every family has its own culture, language, and style of relating. They are the ingredients that make each family unique. These components also make families/family dynamics tricky and difficult to navigate at times. Therefore, we want to approach the area of family secrets prayerfully and with great prudence, discretion, care, and wisdom. The object is not to wound, hurt, or bruise anyone--but rather offer an opportunity for the family unit to experience liberty, health, and wholeness. Psalm 133 assures us that this is possible to achieve, and when we experience this aspect of health and resilience we move into a new level of familial blessings.
If this subject resonates with you, may I encourage you before moving forward to solicit the counsel of your pastor, clergy member, counselor, or therapist. Be prayerful. Inquire of God. Seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Family is God's idea; and within each family is the capacity to love and be loved well.