• Coach Shonda McCray

Stronghold and Relationships

Last week I regurgitated the “Breaking Generational Cycle” entry. This week let’s discuss in short "Stronghold and Relationships". I must have earned an award on this topic. Hunni, I admit to not being the best in my past relationships. My childhood trauma had me jacked up from head to toe... If it wasn't for God and good ole therapy, I wouldn't be able to be this transparent... But enough about me.

Let's take a moment and touch on strongholds and how they can interfere with relationships.

Most of us are familiar with the fact that we come into relationships with baggage. Sometimes our baggage comes from past unhealthy or sinful relationships. Other times it comes from our own bad decisions. Each of these things can create an environment where Satan gains a foothold in our lives, and eventually setting up strongholds that prevent us from becoming the healthy and whole individuals God desires us to be.

But sometimes we forget that Satan can also use our families’ pasts to create strongholds in our lives. How does this happen? Why is it important to deal with these strongholds? And how do we address them?

How Satan Uses our Families to Establish Strongholds

You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments” (Exodus 20:4-6, NKJV).

All of us are influenced by our families, whether for good or bad. But for some of us, the decisions, behaviors, and even practices of our families have caused significant harm. Abuse, neglect, occult worship, the practice of false religions or cults, and dedications to false gods are just some of the ways in which our families have created long-lasting damage.

There are two aspects to the hurt caused by family members who have done these things to us, whether directly or indirectly. One is the psychological effect. And the other is the spiritual effect. And generally, where one effect is felt, the other is present as well.

Psychologically, the effects of abuse, neglect, and other trauma dealt to us by others can be absolutely devastating. And it is not uncommon for a person who has faced significant trauma to find themselves struggling with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other disorders. The trauma of the past bears a heavy weight in our relationships as they cause us to have difficulty with trusting another person or accepting love. The way we respond out of those deep hurts can be difficult for other people to understand or even lead us to inflict pain upon them ourselves.

On the spiritual side, there are a host of things that can be affected. The hurt of the past can deeply affect our relationships with God, and sometimes that relationship seems as if it is on rocky ground. Trusting God, or anyone else can be difficult. But the problems can go much further than that. Behind every abuse or act of neglect and entwined in every practice of worship toward false gods is the work of Satan. Every act of sin is influenced by his work combined with the ungodly desires of humans. And part of his work is using his army of demons to turn the minds of people to follow his ways instead of God’s.

These demons can, and do, infest humans and torment the people around them. And this includes us. The deep wounds we carry from the trauma of our families’ practices and abuses make up the “garbage” demons feed on, and the more there is for them to cling to, the tighter the hold they have on us. It is through this that Satan creates strongholds that hold us captive, driving us away from the God who loves us and putting wedges between us and those we are in relationships with.

We must deal with these strongholds of Satan and find freedom through Christ.

The Importance of Dealing with Strongholds

Why is it important to tackle strongholds in our lives?

Strongholds harm our walk with God. Satan uses the pain, trauma, and influences of the past to keep us from giving our whole hearts to God. We find it hard to trust God, terrifying to open our hearts to Him, and even ashamed by our seeming inability to put our full focus on Him.

Strongholds damage our current human relationships. The negative and sinful influences and hurts dealt by our families can affect the way we understand a healthy relationship to be like. Distrust, an inability to accept love, or even a tendency toward acting in abusive ways toward the person we are dating or married to can destroy that relationship beyond repair.

Strongholds can lead us into unhealthy and sinful behavioral patterns. Trauma and spiritual hurts of the past can influence us to develop unhealthy behaviors, whether those are acting out of lust, becoming abusive or developing co-dependent relationships.

Dealing with Strongholds leads to freedom! 2 Corinthians 3:17 says “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” When we turn our lives over to God and allow His Spirit to fill us, we experience freedom from the sins that entangle us. But that is a process, and one that includes the needs to rid our lives of the chains that hold us down. The result is a set-free life in which we can walk in the liberty, the freedom that God gives us in Christ.

How to Address the Strongholds in Our Lives

How do we rid ourselves of these strongholds?

Ask others to be involved. It is essential to ask other, more mature, believers to join you in addressing them. Ask your pastors, Bible study leaders, and others to go to battle for you in prayer. Find one or two Christian women who can be your mentors - who can hold you accountable in your relationship with God and your future dating or marriage relationships, and who can be your prayer warriors.

Pray. Ask God to free you from the trauma and sinful decisions of your family. Open your heart to Him and ask Him to heal you and make you whole.

Confess. Talk to the Lord and confess any involvement you have had with the sins of your family, especially if you participated in occult practices or worship of false gods. While we will not be judged for our parents’ or grandparents’ sins, we will be held accountable for our own sinful actions (Ezekiel 18:20; Jeremiah 31:29-30).

Get a counselor. Because of the psychological and emotional effects of families in creating strongholds in our lives, it can be very helpful to have a Christian counselor who can walk with you through the pain of the past and give you tools to move forward into wholeness.

Be in the Word. As we rid ourselves of strongholds and the lies Satan uses to keep us captive, we need to replace them with Truth. Romans 12:2 tells us “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” It is in renewing our minds through the truths of God’s Word that we are transformed.

Finally, we must walk in freedom, not turning back to the hurts and pain of the past, but pressing forward into the liberty we have through Christ and the promise of hope we have through His work on the cross. Cling to the promise of Galatians 3:13: Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” We do not need to fear the curses of our families’ pasts because Jesus became a curse for us in our place.

I hope that you've enjoyed this week's journal entry. My goal is to send love and encouragement to you and your household. Wherever you are in your journey, know that you are not alone. God is with you...

Thank you for reading.

© I am Coach Shonda

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