[Wellness Wednesday] What you pass down to your children is not as set in stone as you may think

A new song was recently released by Kari Jobe (2020), stating: 

May His favor be upon you 
And a thousand generations 
And your family and your children 
And their children, and their children 

In hearing this, you may wonder how this can be true when you feel that you are stuck in a pattern of depression, or past trauma that has haunted you, your parents, and your grandparents for many years. However, God has promised us more, and science has proved, through Epigenetics, that His promise is true, and that YOU can change your genetics, so much that the effects are then passed down to your children, and their children, and their children—to a thousand generations. 

Epigenetics is the study of the environment in which one lives, the behaviors of the individual, and how both affect genetics and gene expression (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2020). For example, in 1971, Vivian Rakoff conducted a study on children of Holocaust survivors and their mental wellbeing. The results showed severe psychiatric symptoms as if the children themselves had endured the trauma of being enslaved. How could children of Holocaust survivors have signs of being in the Holocaust themselves? Epigenetics tells us that the surviving parents unintentionally passed down their trauma through their actions and reactions. This could be in the form of the parents’ difficult past, nonverbal interactions with the child, or perhaps the child was used as a place for the surviving parent to unload its past hurt. Unfortunately, in this situation, this caused changes within the child. We learn that strands of DNA are not changed, but a chemical compound is added to the gene itself, thus changing what is passed down (Psychology Today, n.d.). This new gene expression leaves a lasting impact that changes the being of who that child is and will become (Yehuda & Lehrner, 2018).  

It is important for individuals to seek out help and guidance so that their problems do not become their children’s. How does this help those suffering from intergenerational trauma and hurt? If gene expression can leave a lasting negative impact, then the opposite is also true. Thankfully, if individuals are able to change their actions and reactions, then they also change the way in which genetics are passed down to their children and to their children. This is such a beautiful picture of how generational chains can be broken and lives restored.  

As Christians, we understand what John 10:10 tells us, that the thief comes into the lives of believers and tries to steal our joy, kill our spirit, and destroy any hope of a future. However, Christ has come to earth to give us a full life in Him. When individuals work through darkness and hurt and change the course of their life, they are changing the life of their children and grandchildren for generations to come.  

Take time for yourself during each season of life. Spend time in God’s Word and focus on how to navigate troubling times so that you too can experience His favor upon you and your family for a thousand generations. 

Bibles, C. (2006). Holy bible (1st ed). Crossway Bibles. 

Jobe, K. B., Brown, C., Elevation Worship, Carnes, C., & Furtick, S. (2020). The blessing [Album]. Recording Industry Association of America. 

Psychology Today. (n.d.) Epigenetics. Retrieved May 17, 2022, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/epigenetics 

Yehuda, R., & Lehrner, A. (2018). Intergenerational transmission of trauma effects: putative role of epigenetic mechanisms. World psychiatry: official journal of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA), 17(3), 243–257. https://doi.org/10.1002/wps.20568 

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This article was written by Heather Kroll, LAC, with Living Well Counseling’s Texarkana office.  For an appointment with her please call 501-729-0777.  Statewide appointments can be made at 877-455-8554. Living Well Counseling is a ministry of Arkansas Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries.

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  1. This article is such a blessing and reminds us that in Christ we are a new creation, the old is gone as we see in 2 Cor 5:17. Thank God He brings His Spirit and sometimes great people into our lives to help us through our struggles.

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