Sunday’s sermon on our emotional toolbox really focused on the importance of setting a good example for others. We have the opportunity to shape “younger” Christians by our actions, whether that be children in our own family or even new Christians in a church family.
Likewise, it is also worth considering our own skillset we inherited from our upbringing. Mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, a neighbor, or an older sibling certainly shaped us. We picked up on behaviors and actions and incorporated them into our personal life. If someone lacked the influence of close family during youth, chances are they will “pick up” and follow the example set forth by TV shows, music, celebrities, schoolmates, local leaders, and so on.
I briefly touched on how our “toolboxes” are frequently missing items or are outright broken. Here are just a few examples of severely broken upbringings and fortunate outcomes…
A missionary to Ukraine once shared a story with me about how he ministered to a young boy who had witnessed his mother kill his abusive father. The mother abandoned the boy afterwards. The boy was incredibly traumatized by what had happened and ran away to live inside a sewer. The missionary was able to bring the young boy to a shelter and receive much-needed counseling and healthcare.
A young man in the prison ministry I help out with shared that his “toolbox” for fatherhood was incredibly broken. Growing up, his father would come home from work, drink an entire pack of beer, and make the young boy and his brother fist fight for his entertainment until one of them passed out unconscious. Fortunately, this young man saw how his upbringing scarred him, and eagerly sought the healing of God.
Another young man in the prison ministry was raised by a white supremacist cult in rural Arkansas. They claimed to be Christian, but in addition to intense racism were also extensively involved in trafficking drugs and guns. He even had a relative who was imprisoned for murdering a hispanic man. “I feel like my mind is so messed up,” he told me one, “Everything I do, I keep thinking about the past and how my family was so hateful. I don’t know what to do.” Fortunately, this young man was actively involved in the program and realized he needed to overcome the continual hate and violence he experienced as a child.
I share these stories to emphasize this simple truth of faith: If you are broken, you need to look to Christ for the fix. Jesus provides a way to overcome victimhood and claim your identity in God’s kingdom. Terrible pasts can certainly weigh on us. But Jesus offers a way out. As the graphic above notes from Hebrews, we need to have our eyes fixed on Jesus.
It doesn’t matter what you past consisted of. If you had a horrendous childhood, Jesus offers you healing right now. If a parent or relative has ever abused you, Jesus offers you comfort right now. If anyone has ever let you down in your past and it negatively affected your future, Jesus offers you hope right now.
Jesus can fix you, regardless of how broken you feel, whatever you struggle with, or even your past. Our “toolboxes” may be broken or lacking in certain areas, but Jesus offers the incredible opportunity to be repaired, mended, and made whole.