Which put life into perspective.
Such things make you think really hard about reality and how you put into practice the faith of Christ.
A Family Affair
One of the huge blessings in my life the past two years has been taking a week off following Christmas to visit with my parents and go hunting with my dad. Prior to last year, it had almost been 10 years since I'd taken the time to hunt with my father, and after last year's trip, I decided to make it a yearly occurrence.
There is something wholesome about the relationships you foster with your parents and grandparents, especially as you get older. After wading through the early years, the torturous teens, and the know it all college years, a person finally gets to the point where he or she truly realizes the wisdom one's parents and other relatives have. I personally am enjoying the time I get to soak in their wisdom and listen to their stories--and realize just how much I am a product of their teaching and rearing.
This was really rammed home once again as my dad and I talked about our teenage years. I personally didn't do much of the party scene whenever I was in high school. Didn't drink. Didn't do drugs. Didn't sleep around. No judgment on my peers who did--there really wasn't much at all to do in the town in which I grew up. That scene just wasn't for me.
I found out that my dad was very much the same way. He didn't engage in much of that activity while growing up either. And it even went further.
Confession time: I have never been too good with reading those little hints members of the opposite sex send my way. I don't pick up on flirtatious cues. I don't notice such things--at all. In order for a gal to get my attention, she's got to literally smack me up beside the head (read: be so obvious about her intentions, I can't miss it). My wife was pretty obvious when we started dating, and look where we ended up. :-)
Found out my dad was exactly the same way. "Sometimes a week or so would go by and then I'd realize, 'Gee, I missed an opportunity to go parking and make out.'"
The apple didn't fall very far from the tree.
Intriguing, to say the least.
But it goes further. Lots further.
In my talks with my grandfather (mom's dad), I found out some very intriguing things as well. Grandpa, in his years of pastoring, was happiest when serving rural congregations. He gardened, hunted, collected rocks and Native American relics (two out of three ain't bad). He also had quite the disdain for gathering at "clergy conferences" (see deaneries). He was stubborn and hard headed about his beliefs and uncompromising when it came to his understanding of the Gospel. (Good Lord, reincarnation happens before death!!!)
But it goes further. Lots further.
I found out once from my grandmother (dad's mom) that my grandfather (dad's dad) hoped at least one of his grandchildren would become a pastor. The lot apparently fell on me. Is it any wonder several very formative faith stories include this family member?
My dad is also very, very spiritual. He and the Lord speak regularly. He told me the Lord said I would be a pastor one day.
In my opinion, one could look at these things in a couple of different ways:
1. Everything was completely planned out and I have absolutely no control over who I am and what I have become. Everything is completely determined and free will is absent. I am simply doing what others along the way decided I would do. I am nothing more than a robot simply acting out commands programed into me by family, genetics, with a touch of God mixed in.
2. The influence of one's family cannot be ignored. It shapes us tremendously, and it equips us in a certain fashion. At some point, we have the ability to realize just how influential our families have been, and we have the choice to continue in that vein or change. We have the ability to see and then say, "This is where I want to stay and who I want to be." And when it comes to the faith we had passed down to us, we can say, "Yes, this is right." or "No, this is not where I want to be."
At some point, I believe every person must come to "know thyself." Every person must become self aware in the sense that he or she realizes why he or she does the things done. Every person must delve into asking "Why do I do the things I do?" Such knowledge helps a person make better decisions; control impulses; and handle problems through thought instead of simple reaction.
We learn most of our ways of handling things in our families. But eventually, we must make them our own. Family affairs are just the beginning. In life and in faith.