It’s ugly back there… who deserves the blame? Part 1 (of 4)

1 Aug

Let me first start this post by saying I have always been a person that loathes others who blame everyone and everything for their past choices.  Listening to them ramble on about how “my parents never did this” and “my teachers never did that” and “in our town this was the environment” left me thinking silently, “Oh, so all of these factors were holding a gun to your head making you behave a certain way?”

That was until I read a devotional a few years back and it tore down and challenged some of my judgements in this area.  Let me explain, because I did not totally flip-flop on this stance.

The people from our past and the circumstances from our past, do bear a load of responsibility in what we know, how we respond, who we become, and where we turn for answers.

From the moment we are born, we’re impressionable little pieces of clay.  And the first molding that will take place is given by the parents (or care givers.) And what they say and do and also do not say or do all play an incredible role in the molding of another human life. So lets call them # 1.

1.) Parents:

If the parents are forgiving, the child will understand forgiveness and be able to show forgiveness.

If the parents hold grudges, the child will have a list of enemies.

If the parents fly off the handle when faced with disappointment, the child will build the same habit.

If the parents find joy in all situations, the child will look for positives in all circumstances.

If the parents are violent, the child will misunderstand how to handle anger.

If the parents say I love you, the children will also say it and be comfortable with the term.

If the parents are uninvolved in certain areas of the child’s life, the child will struggle to understand what areas receive love from the parent(s) and battle a balance to achieve it.

If the parents serve other people with their time and talents, the child will be quick to help when they notice a need.

If the parents are lazy, the child will have a poor work ethic.

And so on and so on and so on.

Parents play such an important role in helping develop all aspects of the child physically, mentally, and spiritually. Certainly kids can learn new habits if the parents developed poor ones (like alcoholism, anger issues, money problems) but it takes intention and is not the natural flow of life.

I want to share some personal aspects of my own realization in this area, so mom & dad if you read this, please know that I love you,  and that I have already made a pretty hefty list of mistakes myself and do not in any way think you were bad parents or would I trade you for the world! I’m thankful for the parents you have been to me, and I trust that all humans fail to be perfect.

Growing up in a house with 7 kids (though most of them were graduating and getting married when I was in grade school and high school) there was a lot of divided attention.   There had to be.  How can you possibly pour into all your children when you have so many? Looking back, there are a few things that I can see contributed to why I acted the way I did and made some of the choices that I did.

My dad worked his tail off.  Let me tell you, I have NEVER met a man with stronger work ethic than my dad.  He provided by working physical labor for all of us above and beyond just our needs.  That being said, junior high and high school sports were played at 4:00 & 5:00 when I was in school.  That is still during the work day.  What is a dad to do?  He always made it to one game during every season.  I always understood why and I was never angry about that at all.  When I married my husband and he told me his dad was at every game he ever played from little league on up, except for one; I told him about our situation and still felt like our situation was totally justified.

And one day, that changed.  I was thinking back and realizing that while I still don’t know that my dad could have done it any different… that still left an impression on me.  I wasn’t able to connect with my dad through sports, even though I really loved them.  He never came to watch, and he didn’t ask about them later. What did we have in common? Anything? How could I get his attention? I certainly couldn’t wrestle or play football… sports he loved.

I have fond memories of laying on the floor as a little girl in front of this wall heater unit at “the old house” and my dad running his fingers through my really long hair, until I cut it because I slept with silly putty. Anyway, as EVERY DAD OUT THERE can relate, as your little girl grows up, it is a REALLY hard thing to find the balance of appropriate yet necessary hugging, kissing, touching and in general loving, especially with words.  I don’t remember my dad saying “I love you” much or “you’re so beautiful.”  In fact, I think we’ve said “I love you” more since I’ve been married, than we did when I was in junior high and high school.

I share these two realities from my past to say, I have faced issues of insecurity, self-doubt, connection and attention not only while dating in younger years but even in my marriage.  I still believe I have a GREAT dad!!  But I can now see how some of the circumstances in our relationship as I was growing up, did indeed have an impact of my choices, feelings and emotional well-being.

My parents always took me to church, but the depth of a relationship with Christ stopped there.  We never prayed together as a family (except before meals) and we never did any Bible reading together.  By the time I was in high school, my parents relationships with the Lord had grown immensely and I remember leaving for school while they were reading their Bibles at the counter.  But by that point, I was less of an impressionable pile of clay, and still, their study was personal and not in a family setting.

It makes more sense to me now that my relationship with Christ modeled a shallow one-sided understanding of faith. A relationship with Christ in which you actually studied His Word and sought Him for direction, which I was never taught to do at home, was not how I walked out my faith.  Instead, a relationship where I lived with self-indulgence and then took my sins and had them washed away when I messed up, was a more accurate fit. There was always time to have a more “holy” walk later on in life.

By the time I was in junior high and high school, my mom had reached a new level of growth her faith, and was more busy than ever in new ministries and just the community in general.  She was the henry county woman of the year one year!! What an accomplishment!! Again, I’ll say because there were seven of us kids, by the time I was older, my mom had been parenting for almost 30 years.  That is a REALLY long time!  I’m sure she longed for an empty-nest stage.  Heck, I have 4 and I’ve only been doing this for just over 7 years and I already talk about the joy that will one day over take my soul when I can pick up and go do ministry where ever and when ever I want, and come home to a clean house and talk to my husband with silence in the home…. aaahhhh.

But given this truth, there was not a lot of personal relationship development between us.  There wasn’t time. We went shopping every year for school clothes and out to eat and those are my favorite memories with my mom.  But we didn’t really talk about stuff.  I assumed no one talked to their mother.  I certainly wasn’t taking any of my problems to her.

I really started to struggle with attention and identity issues.  What got me attention for being me?  Who did I even want to be? Where could I go that made something I did stand out? Was I pretty? How could I prove that? How could I hurry up and grow up and have a life of my own?

And in this season, a mountain of bad habits, wrong crowds, poor decisions, deception, and a nasty ugly list I’d rather not dive all the way into today, started being a bigger and bigger part of my life.

There are other issues that just don’t need to be named.  But I sorted through them all as I let my mind acknowledge that this area contributed to the molded image I was becoming.

Practical Application:

I’ll get there…. but I have two more parts of this “blame game” before it’ll all come together.  Stick with me… I really believe you won’t want to miss this series. Especially because one section alone will not give you the accurate picture of where I’m going with this!!

((And as always, feel free to share your thoughts, experiences and situations in the comments section below!))

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