Traditions Of The Fathers
Normally speaking, we inherit the physical traits of our parents. It’s not too difficult to match a child with a parent from physical similarities. I was at a basketball game in Reno and I saw this black kid walking by; I had never seen him before. I said, “That must be the son of Gregory McNeal. I really didn’t have to ask, but I did anyway. I was so sure, that I approached him and asked about his father Gregory. He was a little surprised as we had never met.
We are also connected by our DNA. Not only does our physical appearance connect us to our parents, but also our genetic blueprint. We may inherit a physical weakness that has been in the family for generations. There is also dysfunction that is passed down from one generation to another as well; alcoholism, sexual abuse, emotional and mental weakness. We also inherit many dysfunctions through learned behavior. One of these is the blueprint of personality. My two best friends are Mark and Dennis; Mark was big and burley and could be somewhat gruff, like his dad, Bill. Dennis looked more like his mother, Barbara, and even resembled her in personality. Both had traits of each parent. We all have the choice of which learned behavior we decide to emulate and which ones we decide to eliminate.
I will now address a blueprint called, the traditions of the fathers. This type of blueprint is one of learned behavior. At birth, we are like a brand new computer. We can’t do much except, eat, sleep, cry and fill our diaper. Each day of our new life, we are being programmed. Our computer is pretty well programmed by age three. Not to oversimplify, but unknowingly, our parents download all their stuff into our computer. They had tons of info, good and bad, downloaded from their parents. In the many downloads coming from previous generations, viruses and much false information are also transferred to our genetic computer. Some of the downloads made our genetic computer dysfunctional. Things just didn’t seem to work for us. Career, relationships, marriage, and a host of other things just never seemed to work easy for us. When the overload came, we may have just shut down.
So when we have struggles in our daily lives, we process the solution from the resources we have in our already programmed computer. Case in point, I know scores of newlyweds who begin their journey to bliss and happiness only to give up when it’s not fun anymore. I also know a family with a total of 8 member, the parents included who had eleven divorces. The learned behavior of divorce was a pattern that was passed down from one generation to the next for well over a century. The last successful marriage in this blood line was from the mid eighteen hundreds.
I knew a lady who had many struggles; her way of dealing with stress and depression was to crash in bed for days at a time. Not surprisingly, her daughters, when stresses came into their lives, followed the same pattern as their mother and crashed in bed for extended periods of time.
My brother lives near several farms of Amish. He told of something that he observed about the Amish children. He said, there would be next door a whole bunch of Amish children playing on the playground. He told me that you could barely hear them. They were playing and laughing and having a good time, but they weren’t yelling and screaming like public school kids. He said that the Amish are soft spoken; therefore, their children follow that pattern. One of the vital keys to finding peace and contentment in act two, is to remove the undesirable things inherited from past generations; keep the good and pass that good on to the next generation. This is a process, usually a lengthy process, of discovery. I would say again that the pain of discovery and change may be more intense than the pain of abuse.
Author’s note: One of the mind sets that delay healing is the false belief that, “I can handle this alone.” This is a lie. God has never intended us to go it alone. Those who suffer under this deception remain in the stuck position. God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” Early in our marriage, I was taught a principle from the heavens that brought about a lifeline that saved our marriage from destruction. I had many character flaws. These flaws lead into diverse temptations. The still small voice that Elijah spoke about, in 1 Kings, Chapter 19, told me this, “Jim, if you keep these things from your wife, you will lose your family one day.”
With the help of my wife and the Lord, over time I was able to receive the help and healing to put away many inherited, learned behaviors that would have destroyed my family. Over the years, I have known many a man who suffered with the same addictions that I did, and mistakenly thought they could handle it themselves. They lost their families in every case. Without the help and support of a wonderful wife, I would have suffered the same fate. There is something empowering in humbling oneself and confessing that the burden is too heavy to bear alone. When we reach this point, then God's enabling power reaches for us.
One more thought on destructive patterns. I know a man who has a wimpy father. He also has a very naggy mother. His dad cheated on his mother their whole married life. His dad couldn’t hold a job for more than a year. The family moved dozens of times. You could see the pattern repeat itself over and over. The dad would be really excited with his new job for awhile. Slowly, he would complain about his boss. The complaining increased until his job became unbearable. He has created an illusion that brought about a desperate need to change jobs.
This pattern became his reality. Until the day he died, he couldn’t see the pattern. Although his son chose not to inherit the learned behavior of the father as it related to womanizing, the son moved his family twenty to thirty times. The son left great jobs and moved his family time after time across the county, always looking for greener pastures. Each new job was so exciting for a short while. The son had a particulary difficult time working for strong men. His comfort zone of working for dominant women was a pattern learned from his dominant mother. It was interesting to watch this pattern repeat itself over the years.
The phrase, “traditions of the fathers, is meant to highlight the junk passing from one generation to the next, not the good stuff. The traditions of the fathers keep us locked in the cycle of dysfunction and misery. Oftentimes, the traditions of the fathers prevent us from receiving the fullness that our Heavenly Father desires us to receive. In ancient times the children of Israel were taught to live the Law of Moses, to prepare their minds and hearts for the coming of Jesus Christ. But they rejected the Law and instead, gave heed to the traditions of the fathers and believed not the gospel of Jesus Christ and became unholy. The unholy traditions of our fathers must be rejected, rooted out and destroyed, lest we turn again to them and turn away from the healing power of our God.