My Messy Upbringing

I come from a good, Christian family. My dad was a pastor and my mom was a devoted wife, mom and home-maker. 
I think if I had to sum up our family in one word it would be commitment. But sometimes my family was committed to the wrong ways of dealing with lifeeven though it might have been dressed up in a perfectly religious robe to the outside world! 
I truly wish that I could say that the word describing my family was “love,” but that wasn’t the case. Don’t get me wrong. We loved each other—it just wasn’t always the priority. And it wasn’t always openly or lavishly demonstrated or spoken.
I guess another word that would describe my family was “dysfunctional.” Thankfully, physical and sexual abuse was not present, but there were times when emotional abuse was. I’m not revealing these facts to blame my parents. They were human and came from much more dysfunctional families than I had, so I appreciate the improvements they made in our family.
The reason I bring all this up is to bring attention to the plain and simple fact that our family of origin really imprints our lives and marriages—sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. I know that I have brought many good qualities into my adulthood and marriage that was a by-product of my parent’s good parenting. But I also know that I have brought just as many, if not more, bad habits and attitudes into marriage.
For me, I tend to be like my parents, not showing love or affection near as much as I should. I have a tendency to be like my mother and criticize when I should find a way to affirm. And I have a tendency to fear intimacy and bury my head in work like my father.
What are the messy tendencies you’ve brought from your childhood?
What are the fears or mistaken beliefs you still return to that tend to mess with your marriage?
I’d really love to know! And I think others would love to know too. If you’re nervous about putting your identity out there, simply comment anonymously. But either way, I promise to pray for you that you would overcome the messes of the past. And maybe you can pray for me too, okay? Then we can claim this verse together –
“Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.” –James 5:16 (MSG)
* Disclaimer – I am not saying that I am a victim of my parent’s upbringing. I take full responsibility for my adult choices that sometimes include messy tendencies and sins. I’m just saying, like my father used to say, “The nut doesn’t fall far from the tree.”


  1. Thanks for posting. I am fortunate to have a true partner in working through the stuff of life in my husband. We have both brought to the table insecurities, bad habits, shame, and unrealistic expectations. I am so encouraged that we have come to the place in our marriage of fourteen years where we actually communicate and empathize with one another. I am concerned more with what I am impressing on my children: the habit of making excuses for myself and others, body image issues, manipulation, disorganization, negative self talk….and THAT’s only the stuff I realize!(and will admit in writing)
    Praying for you Beth!

  2. Thanks for sharing, Kimberly. I am so grateful for your bold authenticity! And I definitely will pray for you. I’m glad I’m not on this journey toward healing alone!