He was raised in a violent alcoholic home. Alcoholism could be traced back through several generations of the dad’s German heritage. His mother was devoutly Catholic, the product of a rich Irish heritage. She made sure the kids were in church every Sunday. Religion was thought to be foundational for the family to navigate through a home life plagued by alcoholism exacerbated by post-traumatic stress from World War II.
Religion proved inadequate when there was not a healthy marriage relationship to reference in the home. Yet the history of family relationships that were strong enough to survive immigration across the Atlantic, World War I, the Great Depression and World War II suggested there was more to this family than simply the home he grew up in.
This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. – Romans 3:22-24. There was confusion in the early church and potential for a rift between the Jews and Gentiles. Jesus sent Paul to share his story of transformation from a religious zealot that persecuted Christians to a faithful follower of Him. Paul shared his story in the context of the greater Story, the good news of Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, the Word become flesh.
It is easy to point fingers at a parent’s shortcomings. It is not easy to study the history of a family, or the history of a nation for that matter, with the understanding that there may be some seemingly bad characters in the past. Dr. Wilfred McClay, author of Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story writes, “Historical consciousness is to civilized society what memory is to individual identity. Without memory, without the stories by which our memories are carried forward, we cannot say who, or what, we are. Without them, our life and thought dissolve into a meaningless, unrelated rush of events. Without them, we cannot do the most human of things: we cannot learn, use language, pass on knowledge, raise children, establish rules of conduct, engage in science, or dwell harmoniously in society. Without them we cannot govern ourselves.”
Historical consciousness provides the opportunity to build on the positives and minimize the negatives of history. For the young man, early exposure to religion was a positive that opened the door to a relationship with Jesus the Christ later in life. The alcoholism was a negative from previous generations that was minimized through sensitivity, intentionality and the grace of Christ.
Know your story and pass it on in the context of the greater Story, Jesus the Christ.
Prayer guide: Lord, thank You for Your story, the Bible. From the first Adam to the second Adam - Jesus, to the disciples, to Paul, to Jude, You provide rich examples of faithfulness and of falling short. Too often I dwell on the falling short part instead of learning from shortfalls, listening to You and moving forward. Forgive me. Help me maintain a healthy perspective, an historical consciousness that glorifies You. I accept responsibility to become the man, husband and father You call me to be, that the next generation needs. Amen.
A faithful father shares his story in the context of the greater Story, Jesus the Christ.