For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. Romans 7:15
The transformed life is an illusive battle. We have an idea about who we want to be, but often we give over to the very thing we don’t want to be. Like the old cartoon with an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other, there’s a battle to overcome. I find myself often asking, “Who’s really in charge here?” If I’m honest with myself, there are more than a few influences that embed themselves in my mind and sow the seeds of who I am and what I think about.
So the question for today is, “Who, or What is influencing you?”
The research I’ve done concerning teenage behavior is of some value to us all. For sure, when we’re growing through adolescence we work through the questions of Who am I? Who do I want to be? And how do I get there? But much of my experience shows, most of us don’t find a place of arrival. We don’t actually have a definitive time in life where we say, This is who I am and this is what I’m going to be about. It’s often a constant place of being, instead of a destination.
Probably the most influential pressure on who we are comes from our family.
We grow up in a certain household with certain values and we slowly become more and more like what we know is comfortable and normal. The other day I was counseling a newly married couple. They were in some conflict, and they needed someone to be a third-party to help them see whatever the conflict was keeping them from living in peace and harmony. So I started like I normally do…”I love you both, so I’m here for you to find a resolutions. Why don’t we start with the problem.”
They hemmed and hawed over what they felt like they were arguing about, and the lady said, “For instance: When I go change the toilet paper in the bathroom I put it on the holder so the paper rolls under. Then I come back and He’s changed it. SEE.” As if I was supposed to agree with her and really get on the husband.
REALLY? I thought to myself. This whole thing is about a bathroom issue?
Of course there was more to the story, but at the essence of what they were fighting about was the WAY they did life growing up.
His dad came home from a long day’s work and expected that dinner would be served.
She was working all day too, and felt like they should share some of the home responsibilities.
He thought being together was watching the nightly news before bed.
She wanted to spend quality time together talking about the day.
All of these expectations were built on a foundation of both their families. His dad acted one way, and her dad lived life another.
Much of our actions are a direct result of what we think is normal without taking into account someone else might do life a different way.
We have thoughts like, “Well of course they should do this…” and then when they don’t play the situation out like we expect, FRUSTRATION.
Before we can live in a life of transformation, we need to be attentive to the places where our family has influenced our thinking.
Family isn’t bad.
As a matter of fact, your family situation growing up helped you be the person you are today.
However; our family history sets the stage for all the ways we think as we grow in life.
I spend a lot of time with people talking about “Family Baggage.” You know, it’s the stuff we walk through life carrying like a suitcase we drag through an airport. I travel a lot, and when I walk the long hallways at some of the World’s Biggest airports, I notice the size and shape of people’s luggage they haul from airplane to airplane.
I catch myself sometimes wondering, “What in the world did they pack in that thing?” Some bags are large, and some are small. Some are all decorated up, and others are plain black. Some roll, and some have to be carried. Everyone hauls a different bag through life.
When we think about the luggage we carry from moment to moment in life, I think it’s good practice to take a long look at the proverbial family luggage we’re hauling.
Some of the stuff in my own family bag is full of fond memories and value lessons.
Some of it, I packed.
And some of the stuff in my bag is not healthy. Things like the time I didn’t feel listened to, or the times I was left to figure out my own problems.
Some of it was packed for me.
Some of it is good.
And Some of it is not so good.
When we start recognizing the bag we’re carrying, and open up that luggage to take inventory of what we’re carrying, we can begin to understand why we act the way we do. We can be aware of our fears, our pains, our needs, and see clearly some of the most important values we hold.
And then…Guess What….
At some point in life, we have the freedom to dump that luggage out and start sifting through the things we want to carry with us, and leave the rest behind.
If you are carrying pain and hurt from a mother or a father, there comes a time to look at that baggage and decide what it will take to live free of that pain.
If you’re carrying the fear that you won’t measure up, or feel the lonely feeling that you didn’t belong, there’s a time when you have to place your value somewhere else.
And you know what?
If you find those little times of success and satisfaction handed down to you from your family, HOLD ON TO THOSE. The Bible says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Philippians 4:8.
Even when we think on our family, the transformed life is one that holds on to the good, and finds the needed rest from the things that are bad.
So let’s start together.
Take some inventory of your family luggage today, and let’s start focusing on the good things. When we train our minds to stop lending itself to the negative, and hone in on the positive, some of the other thoughts and actions we don’t like in our life will begin to fade away.