I’ve been thinking about family lately…not really surprising since I’m in the “family way” I suppose. 😉 Genetics and family history and nature vs. nurture….all normal thoughts for a pregnant woman. But I feel like I got a “Bam!” kind of epiphany last night so I thought I’d share.
I would say that every human being either bases their thoughts about themselves at least somewhat on the fabric that makes up their recent family history, or wonders about it if they don’t know their biological family. Little Jimmy is a whiz at math because Great-Uncle Floyd was a genius, things like that. I’ve been known to say that two of the world’s most stubborn and short-tempered people got together and had me, and so it’s hardly my fault that I’m …rather…stubborn! And maybe even short-tempered…at times? 🙂 Of course, there’s all sorts of familial or clan pride even with the most tenuous relation (St. Pat’s day anyone?) and sometimes familial shame…like when I found out that one of my grandmothers was a child abuser. But last night I started thinking about two things. First, I am pretty sure that if you look at ANY family, really look (as if you had their personal diaries?), you would find the entire experience of humanity with all its glory and shame within just a few generations. Given that humans rarely even know their great-grandparents’ first names (do we cultivate a short memory or is it simply survival?), it’s hard to prove, but I think it can be safely said that all of us can claim honorable and dishonorable relatives, kind and cruel, stupid and intelligent.
So taking that into consideration, what exactly are we basing our identity on? Really we can all claim the spectrum of humanity. Why choose one thing over another? Pride? Vanity? Fear? Wanting an excuse (like me for my stubborness)? And that brings me to my second thought. Look at Jesus’ famous speech about peace on earth in Matthew 10:34-39 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
Talk about some extreme statements! Not exactly Christmas card PC but that’s what He said. And so we see Jesus here and in other places calling His followers to love and follow Him more than their own family, to turn their backs on their families (in one example) and to follow Him. And I think that this can also be applied to who we are, our self identity. Am I stubborn because my parents were? Turn my back on my family and follow Him. He promises that when we become followers of Him we are transformed into new creatures, the old has passed away, the new has come. He promises that we gain an entire new family, the family of God, the bride of Christ, and we become His brother or sister! I am to find my identity solely in who I am…in CHRIST! Not in my abusive grandmother or stubborn father or greedy grandfather or in anyone else. In Him Alone.
Last night as I was thinking about all these things, I also started thinking about genetics. Because I am such a concrete, science-y sort of person. And it also occurred to me that my unique genetic code, my DNA, has implications far wider than I had ever thought. We know that even two completely identical people, as in twins, can be very different (which I think is handily solved by acknowledging the existence of the human soul), but we also know that our DNA has to be inherited directly from our ancestors. Every single one of them. So I would NOT be the person I am if EVERY SINGLE ANCESTOR of mine had not been exactly who they were, when they were (and somehow more mind-blowing for me, I wouldn’t be who I am if unless the exact egg and exact sperm from my parents united at exactly the right time!). And combining this thought with what the Bible says, that God knew us before He made anything, and you get my “Bam!” moment. To have planned me, God had to have planned every. single. person. in the whole entire history of humanity. It was like I was looking at a Christmas tree, as if an ant on the trunk, seeing one or two strands of light …and all of a sudden the ENTIRE tree just turned on and sparkled! ALL of humanity was planned by Him completely in every detail before time began! There are no “accidents” no “mistakes” no “surprises.” No marriages that shouldn’t have happened. Even miscarried children, whose eyes never see the light, were planned by God.
Can we say awesome?
Psa 139:13-16 “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”