Finding one's self
(Who am I)

(The following is an adaptation of remarks made as a senior member at a recent family reunion. ecp)

Often, when people get involved in deviant behaviour, seem directionless or manifest other symptoms of troubled lives, we hear the remark, “He/she just needs to find himself/herself?” The person is not lost but rather is confused or unsure of his/her place in the family, community, nation, world. Where do I fit in? What do I stand for? It involves being lost in the sense of needing to decide/determine/find one’s place among the diverse world-views and value systems of a pluralistic society.

A very real part of who I am has to do with FAMILY. That is to say that family usually has much to do with one’s world-view, value system and life-style. WHO ARE WE?

To begin with, in a general sense, all are a part of God’s family. We are His children, His creation. We are daily recipients of His loving care. He provides what is needed to sustain our lives as well as the example and direction that enables us to live “full” lives (Jno.10:10).

Unfortunately, there are those who outright disown this relationship. Others just fail to cultivate or recognize it. God is our father and ideally this defines us – enables us to find ourselves and thus to know who we are and where we stand – our value system and life-style.

In a more particular sense, we are children of [mutual ancestor] whose name many of us bear and who provided us with example and, hopefully, direction. Once again, some might go so far as to deny or reject the relationship and influence while others tend to ignore or neglect to cultivate it. Most of us, however, acknowledge and even take pride in the relationship and accept it as a real part of who we are.

Ideally our forebears are worthy of recognition and their example and instruction defines who we are and influences our life-style and value system which is thus passed down from generation to generation. In our family many generations have been people of faith, defined by a desire to know and do God’s will. Bible study and church attendance have been characteristic along with honesty and a strong work ethic. Many of us, like our forebears, met and married as a result of associations in Bible Schools or churches.

We are a part of this heritage and it will be a part of who we are and what we stand for unless we have either disowned the relationship or are neglecting its significance and influence.

I remember and was impressed by my parent’s dedication to work on the farm. It seemed to take precedence over all else except church. When there were church services or gospel meetings we somehow managed to get some time away from the work. We would sometimes walk seven miles to attend such meetings and walk back home afterwards. Family traits that we were taught include faithfulness, honesty, dependability, hard work and independence.

We were moulded by our parents and this is an ongoing process. Those of you who are parents must face the fact that you have heavy responsibilities in this process. What are you “passing on”? Yes, you are expected to provide food, clothing and shelter. That part usually “comes naturally”. The greater burden on you is the preparation of your children for life by passing on values. Too often, this part tends to be neglected or poorly done.

When God chose Abraham to be the father of His chosen people, He said, “For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.” (Gen.18:19).

As Moses led Abraham’s descendents and passed God’s instructions on to them, he wrote, “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. ... Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (Deut.6:6-9).

Both parents must be involved. Timothy’s “sincere faith” “first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice” (II Tim.1:5). Fathers are instructed to bring their children “up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Eph.6:4). It is most unfortunate when parents do not work together in this task.

This system breaks down when neglect occurs – when parents fail to assume their responsibility and/or when children reject or rebel against parental teaching and influence.

We are sometimes saddened to observe a downward generational process that goes something like the following. Great-grandpa had the Bible in heart and life, grandfather had it in his head, father on his shelf and son in the attic. May this not be the situation in our families.

WHO ARE WE? We are children of God and descendents of godly ancestors.

Eugene C. Perry

Published in The Old Paths Archive