OFTEN today we read that a destructive or negative lifestyle has been going on for generations in families. Somehow the cycle must be broken in order for individuals and families to be permanently free of such problems as alcoholism, domestic violence, child abuse, drug addiction. Can we as individuals do anything to strengthen and heal the family unit?
When drug and alcohol problems surfaced in our family, I found myself asking: How can I help? Are our children and grandchildren helpless victims of these tendencies because members of previous generations have suffered from them? The lifestyle and behavior of several family members were disrupting family relationships and causing much anguish and concern. Similar addiction problems in the previous generation hadn't been confronted or corrected. I yearned to find a way to break the cycle now.
As a student of the Bible, I knew the answers would come through prayer. So I prayed! The Bible tells us that God made man is His image and likeness. I reasoned that this perfect likeness of God--you, me, and everyone--can't include addiction or anything ungodlike. The Bible also has something to say on the subject of heredity. In the book of Ezekiel, God asks: ''What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge? As I live, saith the Lord God, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel. Behold, all souls are mine'' (18:24). I reasoned that we could rely on the Bible promise and claim our freedom from any supposedly inherited propensity to evil. God's law is always supreme and can be trusted. Because God is our Father, I could insist on this heritage of dominion not only for my family but for all the world's families, thus helping to break the cycle of irresponsible thinking and behavior for all mankind.
I also found enlightenment in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. There the Discoverer of Christian Science points out: ''Heredity is not a law. The remote cause or belief of disease is not dangerous because of its priority and the connection of past mortal thoughts with present. The predisposing cause and the exciting cause are mental'' (p. 178). These concepts comforted and calmed me. I was able to replace fearful and anxious thoughts with the grateful recognition that this problem had surfaced only to be healed. My children and grandchildren could only feel the influence of God's law and His plan in their lives.
I kept on praying and began to see changes. Denial that there was a problem was replaced by a desire for help. One of the family members chose to participate in a drug rehabilitation program. The other relied entirely on Christian Science treatment through prayer. Both individuals, however, acknowledge that it was prayer that brought the healing. Deceitful, unreliable behavior was discarded in favor of honesty and responsibility. Forgiveness replaced anger and alienation, and broken family relationships were healed and strengthened. There was a return to the spiritual values that had been learned at an early age in the Christian Science Sunday School. The desire for drugs and alcohol disappeared, and the whole family rejoiced. Our family learned never to give up on a loved one and saw that persistent prayer does heal. These healings took place a number of years ago and have been permanent. The problems have not cropped up in our family again.
In her book The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, Mrs. Eddy writes: ''The cycle of good obliterates the epicycle of evil'' (p. 270). All of us are enfolded in God's cycle of good and have God-given authority to claim this goodness for ourselves and our families. A hymn in the Christian Science Hymnal (No. 135) reminds us that God is the source of all good:
Since Thou, my God and Father,
Dost claim me as Thine own,
I richly shall inherit
All good, from Thee alone.
A negative cycle can be broken, and prayer shows us the way.