The Family Tree
Do you ever dwell on the past to help you attain your goals in the future?
I didn’t think that to be a particularly life-altering question. I went to Google and was looking for a quote that might capture my sentiments to some extent about it, but all I could find were trite cliches like, “You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one,” or, “Life isn’t meant to be traveled backwards.”
These quotes leave much to be desired. No matter what kind of family you were born into, they shaped who you became to some extent. Whether your experience was good or bad, your life history plays a part in who you are today.
My husband says I have my mother’s paranoia and my father’s obsessive, compulsive tendencies. My husband has his father’s problem with a lack of communication. Does it mean that we are the same? No, but it does mean that our parents affect who we are today.
We both came out of strong, Christian families. I know that is not the case for everyone. My grandfather was an abuser and an alcoholic. My father was nothing like his father, and for this I am thankful, but it did shape who my father was. Because he saw the pain his father caused, he went the opposite direction. God shaped him to be a man completely unlike his dad, but my grandfather’s sins still shaped my father nonetheless.
The ability to look backward is important in every area of life. We learn from our history. We learn from those who have gone before us. We learn from mistakes made, but we also learn from traditions, stories, skills, and faith in practice handed down from those who went before us. We need this, but we often do not know we need it.
The Lone Wolf
I am a very self-centered person, and I live in a very self-centered society. I often complain about the common lack of respect for authority among youths, but that has infiltrated my own thought process as well. Our generation feels like we can do it better, like we don’t need antiquated thoughts on the matter at hand. We will forge our own paths.
Time and again I have seen how this pattern of behavior in myself and those around me has only hurt us. History is something to learn from. We can try to re-write it to fit our own agendas or erase our mistakes, but there is no good that can come from it.
How does all this apply to marriage and family?
I saw a post up on Facebook once … “What is the #1 piece of advice that you would give a new mom?” Everyone pretty much across the board said don’t listen to anyone else, just trust your instincts. This advice is ill conceived, but it is the perfect display of the point I am getting at.
Often we walk into the great wide world of marriage and family all on our own. Maybe you didn’t have a mom who taught you how to be a wife and mother. Maybe as a husband, you didn’t have a good example of what a husband and father should be. That doesn’t mean you are free to forge your own way, however.
We all have things that were not modeled properly for us. Even parents who left a great example had areas of weakness. Some of those areas of weakness we recognize; some of them we do not. Some of those weaknesses we emulate; some we work hard to avoid.
The beauty of community is that our examples are not limited to our immediate family. The church is a family. By design, the church is built up of different kinds of people with different kinds of strengths and weaknesses. God has given us each gifts that are helpful to the church, and He has given others strengths that can help us where we are lacking.
If we are wise, we will not exclusively look back and learn from our own past, we will seek out the collective lessons learned from the history of everyone in our community.
What is Biblical Marriage?
In our highly individualized society where everything is about making yourself happy first and doing for others second, the art of Biblical marriage has been lost.
Marriage is not primarily for your happiness or the happiness of your husband. Marriage was established by God to be a display of Christ’s sacrificial love for the Church. The husband is meant to sacrificially love his wife, and the wife is meant to sacrificially serve her husband. We have a marred, sin-filled view of this beautiful picture here on earth, but it is and can be a beautiful picture all the same.
The secret to happiness in marriage and family is to seek Christ, to be more like Him! In a society that is constantly looking forward for improvement, by paving their own way, as Christians we ought to be looking backward to grow going forward.
If we are traveling unfamiliar roads, does it make more sense for us to trust our instincts to guide us, or to trust the directions of those who have already successfully navigated their way through?
Contrary to popular belief, we don’t need to personally make the mistake in order to learn from it. We can learn from others’ mistakes and from others’ successes. If we refuse to learn from those whom God has placed around us, we only win ourselves more heartache.
May we learn to walk forward by first considering the footsteps of those who have gone before us in marriage, in family, and in all of life.
What is the number one piece of advice you have received from another wife that you think other wives would benefit from?
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Lindsey is owner and author at The Road to 31. She is a homeschooling mom of many with a passion for her faith and her family. The Road to 31 is her journey of sanctification toward becoming the Proverbs 31 woman. She enjoys writing on topics of faith, motherhood, homemaking, and alternative living.