“Oh my goodness, I have become my dad!” The thought made me crack up. It became clear that as I had focused on the task at hand, I was hungry, distracted and not enthused. I grabbed a handful of pistachios and sat down with determination to get the thoughts out of my mind and into words. That was when it I got the picture of my dad sitting at his computer with a bowl of pistachios next to him, intently hulling, eating and typing. Yep, I had become my dad in yet another way.
Has that ever happened to you? Please tell me that I am not the only one! Whether it was you dad, mom, grandparent or auntie, those familial traits come through at the strangest times. And they are often unexpected. Hopefully, like me, you were able to laugh at yourself when it happened.
Sometimes it is not such a light and silly situation when we see or hear ourselves mimicking our parents, right? Like when we swore we would never say certain things to our kids because they made us furious when we were young? Or when seeing familial weaknesses in ourselves frustrates us? “Why can’t I do better?” Those times can even leave us teetering on the brink of resentment or in a pool of bad memories thinking of drowning ourselves in bitterness.
Times like these call for drastic measures. Before you jump into that murky pool of bitterness that will taint your future and spread to those around you, please consider:
We are forgiven. God offers forgiveness for every crazy and rebellious thing that we have ever done. And that forgiveness is forever. He will never again bring up what we did so poorly: choices, words, actions or vengeance. Therefore, we can and should consider forgiving ourselves. It is inevitable that we are going to continue doing things that disappoint us and those around us. How much of that do we want to carry, and how long do we intend to keep giving ourselves lashes for what we have done poorly? Let’s be like our Father, God, and forgive ourselves as He has already forgiven us.
Giving some grace to our parents. While it is true that some have had truly evil parents, most things that bother us about being like our parents are because we think we should be better than they were. That may sound good and noble, but is it not true that we are all stuck in the human condition, doing the best that we can in a web of constant situations? I remember the day when it became clear that having three children under 5 years old was incredibly taxing. And I was married and had a good support system. I reflected that on my mother-in-law and suddenly had more grace for her because she had three children under 4 and was a single mom. You see, we don’t need to cover over all of the bad, just make some room with grace for the truth.
Encouraging ourselves! Yes, use words – even speaking out loud – and speak some truth to ourselves about things that we have worked at, seen improvement in and even stopped doing. Sometimes it seems that we move on too fast when we have had a victory over a bad habit or selfish motive. We don’t take time to celebrate that something bad, dark or harmful in us has died. God encourages us by leading us in the paths of righteousness. Think about that for a minute. He does not leave us wandering around because we did something wrong. No, He waits for us to look at Him and once again He calls out the way that we have been made right in His eyes. He leads us in that way. Be like Papa God and speak the truth about yourself.
Having love for who we are right now. God loves us completely no matter where we are in life. Let’s not to be confused and think that if we stop a bad habit that God will love us more. Or conversely, that if we start doing something wrong that God will love us less. Unconditional love does not change. If God is loving us today, can we give ourselves the same honor? Let’s be more like our Father and be loving to ourselves right now, how we are, today.
And hey, about those crazy things that irritate us because they remind us of how we are like our parents? How about if we let God show us how to work on those? He is the creator of the universe. He is orderly and all He does lacks chaos. It is pretty much guaranteed that we would all like to avoid chaos; so let’s ask our heavenly Father to help us move to a better place, one little step at a time.
And Dad, I’m really glad that I learned to laugh at myself from you…and that you learned to laugh at yourself from you mom. There are so many good things that we get from our parents!