Unfinished Business

A man’s foes will be those of his own household.

Matthew 10:36

Pam came into my office with the look of a martyr. She hadn’t bothered to fix herself up, and her overall demeanor showed me she didn’t want to be there; her pastor had referred her. Pam told me a story she had repeated to many others before me. She talked about her alcoholic husband, Joe, and the abuse she had received all of her married life.

As we talked, it became clear that both Pam and Joe were trying to complete unfinished business passed on by their parents. Pam’s unconscious message from her mom had been, “Pam, I can’t change  my alcoholic husband, but you marry a similar man and heal him.” Joe’s message from his alcoholic dad had also been subconsciously received as, “Carry on, son; try to be a success-even if you have to be an alcoholic.

Pam and Joe had done a great of job of receiving those messages, but they were not doing a very good job of carrying them out.  Pam certainly was not healing her husband! Through therapy, however, Pam came to realize that the only person she could change was herself. As she gradually stopped responding to her mother’s message, Joe was forced to look at his own unfinished business.  He is now on his way to recovery through an Alcoholics Anonymous program.

Prayer:  Lord, help me live my life under your guidance instead of spending all my energy trying to complete my parent’s unfinished business.


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