Growing up wasn’t a fun time for me; and I’m sure a lot of you feel the same way. Although I loved both my dad and mom, there are traits about both of them that I’ve worked hard to not be like.
My dad was very quiet and introverted, so through the years I’ve tried to not let those qualities become too closely ingrained within me. Sometimes it’s hard though, because I really love to be alone in the quietness of my house. Reading a book or doing a jigsaw puzzle is relaxing to me. I don’t care to always be around people.
But I know God doesn’t want me to live that way all the time. The Bible says we are not to neglect having fellowship with other Christians (Hebrews 10:25). And we are also not to close ourselves off from being around those who don’t believe in Jesus either. We are to bear fruit for Him (John 15:8); spreading the good news of His love (Mark 16:15).
My mom? Well, she always wanted to be the center of attention. Whenever she was around others she would turn into the life of the party. She wanted to be liked and respected. She wanted people to say nice things about her.
For me? When I’m in a group of people, I usually try and make people laugh and feel comfortable around me. A lot of times I’ll do or say something goofy – just like my mom would. But it’s a struggle, because sometimes I suddenly find my nervousness threatening to take over. I feel like I really don’t fit in with everyone else.
Then I wonder – did mom ever feel like that? Did she act the way she did around people because she often felt she wasn’t good enough?
But the bottom line is that God oversaw each and every aspect of my childhood and personality; and He designed me to His precise specifications before I even entered this world (Psalm 139:13). He chose my parents for me, and because of that their genetics have been interwoven into my being.
However that doesn’t mean that I’m supposed to use that as an excuse to not grow and change those things which are unpleasing to my Heavenly Father! I love this passage in Romans 8:28-30 (NLT):
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.
That’s what it’s all about. Yes, we all have our parents’ genetics, but once we surrender to Jesus’ saving love, His desire is to shape and form us more and more into the image of Himself.
But He will not force His ways on us! He didn’t create us to be like robots – He gave us freewill.
As I wrote this, King David’s son Absalom came to mind. Absalom’s life was riddled with the good, bad and ugly. You can see much of his father David in him. I’m sure he also had many traits of his mother Maacah, although not much about her is stated in Scripture.
Just like David, Absalom was a handsome young man (1 Samuel 16:12, 2 Samuel 14:25), and all of Israel loved him. He had charisma, you might say. People would gather and flock around him. As a matter of fact, 2 Samuel 15:6 says Absalom “stole the hearts of the people.”
The same thing was said of his father David, who the Israelites sang and danced over after he killed their wicked giant enemy Goliath (1 Samuel 18:5-7).
However, unfortunately Absalom was also like his father at times when he wanted his way, rather than God’s way.
Such as the time when his brother Ammon raped his daughter Tamar, and then discarded her like dirt (2 Samuel 13:1-14). Absalom felt Ammon should have been punished severely (can’t say I blame him); but when after 2 years no action had been taken, he decided to have Ammon killed (2 Samuel 13:23-29).
His father David also resorted to murder, after he sinned by sleeping with Bathsheba, the wife of one of his trusted soldiers, Uriah. Bathsheba ended up pregnant, and David tried all sorts of trickery to fool Uriah into going home to sleep with his wife right after he found out. When his plans failed, David ordered his army commander Joab to have him killed by placing Uriah on the front lines during battle (2 Samuel 11:1-17).
But here’s where we see the similarities end. Because when King David was confronted by God’s prophet Nathan of his sin, he repented (2 Samuel 12:1-13). He turned back to his Father, and was forgiven.
As far as Absalom? Even though we can certainly feel for him when he felt justice was never served for Tamar’s rape, we never see that he went before Father God in repentance. Instead he planned a rebellion against his father David, threatening his life, as well as his kingdom (2 Samuel 15:1-12).
The final outcome? Absalom died a grisly death (2 Samuel 18:1-15).
I guess what I’m trying to say to wrap this up is that we all have choices to make. The main choice is whether we want to follow God wholeheartedly like King David (that doesn’t mean he was perfect); or harbor unforgiveness and bitterness in our hearts like Absalom, letting it eat away at us like a worm eats away an apple, turning it into rotten fruit.
Often through the years when I’ve messed up I’ve found it easy to blame my actions on my dad or mom. After all, I’m their daughter! I would never have done that otherwise, right? Sure…
But that’s not what God says to do, is it?
Our Heavenly Father has uniquely and specifically designed all of us with certain traits of our parents, but also with special gifts (Psalm 139) to be used in our work for Him. And, His desire is to use all of these things together in order to reach others.
Because of my earthly father’s traits of tending to be more of a loner, I can often recognize others who struggle when in a crowd of people. Sometimes they’ll go stand in a corner, just waiting for an opportunity to escape back into the confines of their special quiet place. When possible, I’ll go and introduce myself and chat with them for a few minutes. Because I understand where they may be coming from.
And then I also often can certainly understand those who want to be the life of the party. The loud ones – the ones who draw attention to themselves. Why? Because I’ve been there. I also know that sometimes they act the way they do because they have such fear that they’ll not be loved or accepted unless they make themselves noticed.
What about you? Are you one of those who are quick to say you’re an alcoholic because your parents were? Or that you’re mean and condescending to your spouse or kids because that’s the way you were brought up? Are you just paying back others evil-for-evil because you feel they wronged you, like Absalom did?
Or are you kneeling before the Lord asking him to help you when you’re confronted with your behavior like King David did? Are you choosing to repent and ask for forgiveness?
Let’s face it – life is hard, and it’s definitely getting harder every day. Everyone does what’s right in their own eyes, but we’re not fooling our Lord (Proverbs 26:2).
My prayer? May we who call Jesus Christ our Savior start living more faithful lives. Like it says in Joshua 24:15: “For me and my house, I desire to serve the Lord.”