Break Free From Your Father’s Past – 9 Ways

by | Legacy

The Life-Long Pursuit of Becoming a Godly Man

 
Are you unable to break free from your father’s past? Have you observed certain behaviors within yourself that occasionally mirror those of your dad? Irrespective of his identity or actions, it’s important to recognize that through your faith in Christ, you possess the strength to free yourself from this cycle and create a life that is more fulfilling for both you and your family.
 
I grew up with an alcoholic father. Even after his passing 36 years ago, I still face challenges every day that directly relate to his addiction.  Recently I read an article about the Characteristics of Adult Children of Alcoholics, which provided great personal insight into many of the challenges I have faced.
 
This article suggests that children of alcoholics view the world and react to normal life situations differently than people who grew up in a more stable environment.  I identify this as learned behavior and it’s an accurate description of many of the challenges I have endured.
 
I grew up watching my father’s alcoholic behavior create a world of chaos for my mother, siblings, and even extended family members.  Thankfully, those experiences led me to accept Christ as my Savior in my high school years and have directly influenced my life, including decisions and behavior ever since.
 
Although I don’t struggle with alcoholism, I can exhibit many of my dad’s traits, as are listed in the article above.  But I have learned by deepening my relationship with Christ and facing those negative emotions head-on, that it is possible to fight and overcome these learned behaviors.
 
To that end, below are nine effective steps that I have been using for many years to prevent from getting pulled down the same path as my dad:
 

#1 – Accept Christ as Your Savior

Accepting Christ allows a man to break free from the crippling effects of his family history, not to mention every other challenge in life.  It grants him the opportunity to step in a new direction – one guided by God’s forgiveness, love, and grace.  It doesn’t mean that all problems will quickly disappear. However, it does mean he can begin to find strength, hope, and a renewed purpose as he navigates the difficulties that he faces, always knowing that Christ is by his side.  By surrendering his life to Christ, a man invites the transformative power that only He can provide, which leads us toward a life that is far different from the negative patterns of our fathers.
 
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. – Revelation 3:20

 

#2 – Deepen Your Relationship

Whether you recently accepted Christ as your Savior yesterday or have been a believer for many years, deciding to deepen your relationship is essential to building and seeing improvements in your life and the amount of joy you experience.  Deepening your relationship with Christ means reading the Bible and praying daily.
 
As you invest time to read and understand His word, you will better understand the challenges you faced as a child and God’s call for your life.  The more you read God’s word, the better you will learn to hear His voice.  At the bottom of the post are several good articles that describe the value of listening to GOD.
 
“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” – Psalm 119:105

 

#3 – Find a Mentor

Finding a Christian mentor can provide significant advantages, preventing you from repeating your father’s mistakes and positively transforming many other aspects of your life.  Building a close relationship with a Christian mentor offers a safe place to freely discuss even the most personal topics without fearing judgment.
 
A Christian mentor will be a role model, demonstrating the values and principles and inspiring you to walk more closely with God.  A mentor’s presence in your life and consistent guidance will be instrumental in shaping your character, helping you develop important life skills, nurturing your personal growth, and, most importantly, leading you to walk more closely to God.
 
I recently asked an older gentleman to be my mentor.   I had wanted a mentor for several years, but the opportunity never developed until last year.  For the first time, possibly in my entire life, I have someone willing to listen, a man who prays for me, and a man who is willing to challenge me to walk more closely with Christ.  Thank you, Win!
 
“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” – Read Proverbs 13 

 

#4 – Join a Christian Men’s Group

Becoming part of a Christian men’s group can have a powerful impact on your life.  Joining a small group or a men’s ministry allows you to build deep relationships with other men who share your beliefs. These groups provide a safe space to discuss your faith and personal challenges with others who understand and support you.
 
Involvement in a men’s group also offers accountability, similar to a mentor.  The group members help one another stay on track and make good choices.  It’s like having a team of friends who are there for you no matter what.  Like in the movie “The Band of Brothers,” you can create lifelong friendships that support and encourage you, regardless of your situation.
 
Over the past twenty years, I have benefited from becoming involved in numerous men’s groups.  I’m currently involved in several groups, and I’m having regular conversations with multiple men who genuinely care about my personal growth and development.  It’s a wonderful experience to be able to help other men, too, as it gives my life a meaningful purpose.
 
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17

 

#5 – Improve Your Knowledge

Regardless of the trauma, it’s still trauma.  Many men struggle all their lives without understanding what’s keeping them from a successful life and/or walking with Christ.  In my situation, I was blessed with knowing exactly what my father’s issue was – alcoholism.  I saw his drunken behavior in action on multiple occasions.  Knowing this, I had (and still have) something to fight against.  As John Eldredge’s book “Wild at Heart” says, a man needs a “Battle to Fight.” To overcome the challenges of your youth, you must invest the time to learn as much as you can about the issues you face, no matter how difficult. This effort may require counseling to uncover the underlying issues of your past.
 
“The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavorable. Favorable conditions never come.”  – C.S. Lewis

 

#6 – Learn to Forgive

Learning to forgive your father and practicing grace are both important. Forgiveness is the key to overcoming your challenges. Jesus can guide you in forgiving your father and even forgiving yourself, which will help you let go of any resentment or hatred you may carrying. These negative feelings can often lead to repeating the same harmful behaviors.
 
Accepting that your father is flawed can be difficult but crucial. It allows you to accept your imperfections as well. When you embrace this acceptance, your life will change for the better. Letting go of resentment and finding forgiveness within yourself opens the door to personal growth, healing, and a brighter future.
 
“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable in others because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” – C.S. Lewis

 

#7 – Don’t Be a Victim

With Christ, you have the power to improve your life, the lives of your family, and others around you.  It all starts with making a decision, sometimes every day, to live in a way that leaves a positive legacy for your family.  It’s not just about how you feel but about your choices.  It’s choosing to reflect Christ’s behavior in everything you do.  A “victim mindset” can lead to many issues including:
  • Negative Mental Health Outcomes
  • Negative Medical Outcomes
  • Low Self-Esteem
  • Difficulties in Relationships With Others
  • Feeling Unsatisfied With Life
  • Limited Personal Growth and Achievements
 
But you don’t have to let these issues define you.  Seek out support from other men and look for resources to help you embrace a mindset of gratitude and peace that only God can offer. Doing so can create a better life for yourself and those around you.
 
You can choose your life’s direction.  You can be consumed with how others may have treated you in the past, or you can decide to focus on the needs of others and make a difference.
 
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

 

#8 – Identify and Build Your Christ-Centered Purpose

I don’t believe that a man “finds” his purpose.  It’s not something you stumble upon without effort – you must build it! That does not mean that you are left to your own abilities because God has instilled a plan for your life. Yet, you must do the groundwork to build it.
 
To be successful, you will need to invest the time to understand better the type of man you are, to identify your strengths and weakness, to get input from friends and/or mentors who know you well, and most importantly, it will require that you invest time in prayer and bible study. It’s also important to understand that building your Christ-centered purpose is subjective and non-linear.  In other words, there is no one-size-fits-all answer, and the time required will vary greatly. 
 
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” – Proverbs 16:3

 

#9 – Be Intentional in Your Desire to Change

Deciding to move forward and stop feeling bad is a decision that you must make if you want to see a change in your life.  I see so many men who are stuck.  They know they’re stuck but are unwilling to invest the time to identify the issues and MAKE THE NECESSARY CHANGES accurately.  This is a developed skill; a coach can help you through this process more quickly.  Below are several topics that will help you to become more intentional in your effort to change:
  • Set clear and specific goals
  • Identify what motivates and keeps you focused 
  • Measure and track your results
 
Make a tree good, and its fruit will be good. Make a tree bad, and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.” – Matthew 12:33
 
By following these Christ-centered steps, you can break free from the cycle of your past and embrace a fulfilling life aligned with God’s purpose for you. Remember, you can create a positive and lasting impact on yourself, your family, and those around you. May God’s guidance lead you toward a better tomorrow.
 

Your Father’s Past – Additional Resources:

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