The Broken Generational Curse
Could there be a curse on my family? Was I destined for the same lifestyle as my uncles? My uncles came from Guatemala. All claimed to be Catholics, but indulged in a life of sex, drugs and violence. Their parents, also from Guatemala, were part of a family with six brothers and six sisters. All grew up united with a seal that could not be broken. The great grandmother was the center of the household. After her husband died, she raised the 12 on her own, and they never lacked the necessities. Five sisters, including my grandmother, decided to migrate to the U.S. with their children when my father was 15.
They all lived in a three-unit complex. The life that the children knew during those times was one of unity and bondage. The life in the complex consisted of alcohol and cigarettes throughout the week. With the mothers gone during the day, working in a factory, and no fathers around, the boys grew up the only way they knew—drinking, fighting on the streets and having sex. This was what it meant to be a man. Growing up, I heard these whispers at family gatherings: “To be a man, stick up for yourself, stick to your family, and have many women before you get married.” The pride of life had been in the family for as long as one could stare down my family tree.
My mother would fight against this darkness and call out the evil patterns of thought and speech, yet, every weekend, my father took me to the family gatherings. My uncles and Dad’s cousins would chatter about the most profane things. Pride was the source of unity and manifesto. Prideful testimonies of fights, sleeping with prostitutes, adultery, and even shootings would be shared.
As I listened to all this, pride took its seat on the throne of my soul and I would delight in such conversations. In fact, many times I convinced my drunken uncles to retell stories of their lives, just for the sake of satisfying my pride in the family tree. I remember many occasions when my cousins and I (ages 7-12) would jokingly say that when we grew up, we would protect one another and sleep with prostitutes so we could carry on the legendary nobility of the family.
Oh Lord! My heart was so far from Thee! No sign of hope! No sign of a Messiah near! Only grace would draw God to me! For my heart desired lust and pride all the days of my youth!
This sort of thinking dominated my youth even though it conflicted with my mother’s teachings and my conscience. I knew it was wrong but carrying the baton of pride brought meaning and unity to what my dad and uncles did. One look at my adolescence and you probably only suspect this generational curse to carry on.
Who could ever overcome this generational curse? Who could ever break the bondage of tradition? The only means to transformation in this family would require the change of man entirely! How could you change the men with such wicked desires? These men drowned in the romance of lust and pride. There was a grip in the desires of these men. Round and round they went, the same motion continued. Never could one imagine such a curse broken. Yet, it was our Lord who said,
What seems impossible for man is possible for God! — Luke 18:27
Youthful Passions. As a teenager, anger, emptiness, a sense of meaninglessness, as well as longing overwhelmed my soul. Teachers recommended I see a counselor. The counselor recommended I see a psychologist. The psychologist recommended I see a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist diagnosed me with manic depression and ADHD. I took 4.5 pills per day. This brought temporary comfort. Not the pills, but the thought that I could blame my darkness on something outside of myself. My passions and longing to fill this void made me do everything possible just to discover who I was meant to be. I was entangled with many sins, but lust burned in my heart. I had found immediate pleasure and temporary escape, and always had a girlfriend. But they couldn’t fill my void, and the relationships ended quickly.
Depression was the dominating emotion in my life, but I never sought to be around happy people. I found them somewhat annoying. I wrote dark poetry to express my sentiment, which only served to make me dive deeper into my state of depression. The times when even depression seemed elusive, I would put on a headset and use music to bring me back to a depressive state. Depression became my identity. Life was dark and meaningless. It was only a matter of getting by with the best experiences possible before death would swallow me up.
I jumped at every job opportunity that came my way hoping to hit the jackpot and find my true identity. I worked in retail, volunteered at a hospital, volunteered at a legal immigration office, was a warehouse worker, a painter and salesman. I never kept a job for more than six months. I would do well, but it never truly satisfied me. I remember many uncles and family members bullying me for never being able to keep a job. I was the laughingstock for many friends.
In 2013, I came across an Al Pacino biography. Apparently, Pacino had reached a low point and could never find what he wanted to do with his life. He then devoted his time to acting and found his escape and identity there. Within a month, I had luggage and an airplane ticket in hand and was headed to Stella Studios, an acting school in New York City. I figured I would try acting and hide my identity behind the characters. Three weeks later I quit and began working as a painter in Trenton, New Jersey. There I was introduced to more drinking, another girlfriend and cocaine. Within two months, I realized I was headed down the wrong path. I picked up the phone. I called my parents and headed back home two days later.
Within a couple of months, I was living in a townhouse, with a cousin and two old friends. There I discovered that partaking in sin together only made it easier to live a rebellious lifestyle. My life was still enslaved to the same dark rituals. No matter the amount of strength I mustered to take on the right path, I would wander off to a lifestyle dominated by my youthful passions.
By now, I was working as a CNA (in private care), but still did not feel my life had meaning. One night I was in my bedroom feeling alone. The last words I heard from my psychiatrist was, “Your goal is to just try and get by in life.” The fact that even the psychiatrist had given up on me brought me to a dark place. Women no longer brought me a feeling of escape. The prescription pills had never filled the void. I was falling into a dark place.
At the time, my mother and dad were separated. They both met with me and begged me to get my life together. I remember my echoing scream back, “I “’t know what I want! Nothing satisfies me!” They responded, “Just find something and stick to it.” I was not okay with that response. Conformity only brought more fear of living a meaningless life.
My soul was empty. I knew I was in darkness, and the more my thoughts came, the darker they got. The more my actions pressed forward, the more I abided in darkness. There was no
escape for me. Suicidal thoughts roamed my mind daily. The only thing that prevented that act was the thought of certain hell. For some reason, I knew I would go to hell if I died. The moment I flooded my hand with pills and the thoughts enraged my mind, my conscience screamed, “Hell is certain for you!” I yelled at God knowing he was bringing the fear of hell. I never heard an answer back. I was alone and blind, with no escape. I was bound to the chains of darkness.
Lord, there was a day I walked against you. I walked as your enemy. Yet, as an enemy no joy was found. As an enemy, pains of hunger and thirst cried forth daily. Never did I seek remedy in you but sought remedy in every corner of darkness. Lord, I have come to learn darkness never draws near to the light, but it is the Light that draws near and overcomes darkness.
The Day of Salvation Is Near
I sat in my room, jobless for three months. My parents were paying my rent. I was tired of going out. I was tired of the same routine. I was slipping through the cracks of life like quicksand. Then came A Facebook invitation from a woman to join a family gathering. Well, women were my weakness . . . so I went. Little did I know this woman was a Christian. We went for a walk to the park. As my mind roamed with lust filled thoughts, she sat me down and asked to pray for me. She laid her hand on me and spoke to the Lord of Lords on my behalf.
Little did I know that prayer moves the Almighty. Little did I know the Almighty was filled with grace for a wretch like me.
I watched as she closed her eyes and prayed. Nothing felt different. I thanked her and carried on with my worldly discussion. At the end of it all, she invited me to a youth group that Friday. I decided to attend out of the mere desire to get to know her better.
When I walked into this youth group, I saw God’s children worshipping him with their hands high, and my soul cringed with irritation and anger for such affection and praise. I heard the message preached. I remembered nothing. I left and drove back home.
I walked into my townhouse and went to shower. Suddenly, the weight of my burdens brought me to my knees. I felt the burden rush in a weight unbearable. I looked to God and confessed the burdens of my soul. I confessed the wretched man that I was. I cried out loud with a loud voice to help me because I could no longer live this way anymore. It was then I felt an overwhelming lift off my shoulders. I had a strong sense of his presence. I could sense God was indeed listening to me. I sat for hours and prayed continuously and wept continuously.
This continued for several weeks. I was overwhelmed with the nourishment of His presence. Prayer was the only means I knew to speak with God. I also began to attend church—the transformation in my character was rapid. The emptiness was indeed gone. The side effects of that void began to drift away. The pill-taking immediately stopped, and I didn’t experience withdrawals. I remember one specific moment when I put on the headphones to listen to music that usually would depress me (as I often did), and it didn’t happen. I began to understand I was no longer the same person I was.
I had tried everything in life, finally to discover that nothing compares to Christ.
It was only Christ that saw me there,
It was only Christ that drew so near,
It was only Christ that met me there,
It was only Christ that saved me there,
It is only Christ that draws me in,
It is only Christ that keeps me here,
It is only Christ that I live for,
For it is only Christ my Savior and My Lord!
Within several months after Luis trusted Christ, his mother and sister came to Christ and in that time period his entire family (all 40 family members) got to hear the gospel for the first time.
He is now called to be a full-time minister. Praise be to God!
Luis and his wife, Rebecca, became members of College Church a year ago this month. Luis serves on the Evangelism Committee.