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Relatively Speaking

Posted by Mark Winebrenner on Feb 10, 2020 3:06:18 PM
Mark Winebrenner


Relatively Speaking

Mark Twain once quipped that he spent a large sum of money to trace his family tree and then spent twice as much trying to keep his ancestry secret!


Can anyone relate to Mr. Twain? Would you like to keep some if not all your ancestry a secret? Well, good luck with that!


I thought I would just come out swinging this month by suggesting that if any of your parents or siblings get on your nerves, it may be because you see some of yourself in them. Just keeping it real.


When I get aggravated with them, I wonder how often I act the same way. If I recognize a similar behavior or attitude in me, I freak out a little. Why?  Because if your spouse starts a sentence with “you are just like your…(fill in the relative), it is usually negative. By the way, it is never, I mean ever, a safe discussion.


Guys, if you want a very lively and animated conversation with your sweetheart and find the couch comfortable, the next time she does or says something you find irritating which also makes you think of her mother, tell her!


Obviously, we are like our family in many ways. For most of us, we have spent more time with family than anyone else. Over many years, a part of them has been poured into us. Our relatives are a gigantic mirror for us but I only want to reflect the good character qualities. That is a tricky proposition given that we are all deeply flawed and when we are with family, we get AND GIVE it all, both good and bad. No one has had more influence into our lives than family. 


And here is a sobering thought: you are the average sum of the company you keep.  The real question is: do you lower or raise the average in your family?


I love my father. He is now in his 80’s and when I consider the entirety of my dad and his life, in some ways I hope I am like him and in other ways I hope I am not. The same can be said of my mom, siblings and just about every close relationship. My guess is you feel the same way.


It softens my heart when I hear children say that they want to grow up to be like their dad, or mom or that they want to marry mommy or daddy. For most of us, at one time in our lives mom and dad were our heroes. To become a good man, husband and father, if all I had to do was trust my dad completely in all areas of life and then just model him in everything I do, life would be much simpler. If parents were always perfect role models, families would be so much stronger. Yet, this is impossible as we are all deeply flawed.


God knows our hearts. He knows the heart of every member of your family. He knows who has been hurtful and who has been hurt. He knows how our family has passed on both helpful and harmful heritage. He knows which families build you up and which tear you down.


The Lord said, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” (Jeremiah 1:5)


Because He knows us so well, God provides a perfect model, built on His love and grace toward us. Though it is true that I do not want to be exactly like my parents, I do, however, want to be exactly like my Heavenly Father. He is a good Father. When we accept His Son Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we become sons and daughters of God.


Then something amazing happens: “And because we are His children, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts prompting us to call out “Abba, Father.” (Galatians 4:6)


The Spirit of Jesus in us! Changing our hearts to begin to see God as our Heavenly Father. He is the One Who gently and lovingly transforms us into His image so that we reflect His character. This happens supernaturally as we spend time with Him, in His Word and prayer. Talking to Him and listening. He enjoys time with us. He is never too busy. He is always available and He cares about everything in our lives.


All we need to do is trust Him.


Tell Him about the pain family has caused or the pain you have caused in your family. Then allow Him to be the Father He desires to be to you. Spend time with Him. If you do, I promise you, you will raise the average, relatively speaking.