October 11, 2017
I have counseled a lot people over the years and have observed a common pattern among many of them: People typically become like the person they most despise. Alcoholics for instance, are commonly raised by alcoholic parents. At some point in the counseling session, there’s nearly always a statement like, “I swore I would never be like the person who abused me, but I have become just like them.” I know this struggle well myself.
Our past can become a prison that perpetuates the bondage of those who hurt us in the first place. Somehow we unintentionally reproduce that same destructive culture in ourselves and in those around us. There are a few common ways that this happens in us. One of the ways we tether ourselves to the past is by reacting to those who abused us and spending our lives trying not to be like them.
I Became Like My Stepfathers
In spite of struggling not to be like my stepfathers through most of my early life, I started becoming an angry man just like them.
During my early twenties I managed an automotive repair shop. My temper was already growing out of control. I remember one of those times distinctly. A customer came in to pick up his car, but we were running late and it wasn’t finished. He had somewhere he needed to be so he was a little upset. He kept coming into the shop and asking if we were done. The third time he came in, I got so mad that I grabbed a two-foot long wrench and threw it all the way across the shop at him. It was a good thing that he ducked because it barely missed his head.
We Become What We Imagine
I was becoming the very person I despised. One day I was reading the Old Testament and began to receive insight about my struggle through the story of Jacob and his father-in-law. Jacob married into a family that gave him some of his own medicine. He worked for his father-in-law, Laban, for seven years so that he could marry Laban’s daughter Rachel. When he woke up on the honeymoon morning, Leah was in his bed. Laban had neglected to tell him that their family tradition dictated that the oldest daughter marry first. He finagled another seven years of work out of Jacob with this trick because Jacob still wanted Rachel. Thankfully he got her on credit! He received her a week later and then paid for her in small monthly installments over the next seven years.
After 14 years of mistrust and dishonesty, Jacob was ready to leave. He told his father-in-law to give him what was his so he could go his own way. Laban was no fool. He knew that Jacob was making him a fortune. Laban told Jacob to name his wage and stay with him. Jacob knew that no matter what his wages were, his father-in-law would find some way to cheat him out of it. He said, “You have changed my wage ten times!” Jacob told Laban that he would work for all the spotted and speckled sheep and goats. These animals would become his wage. They struck a deal.
What’s In Your Watering Trough?
I am sure that Laban thought that he got to Jacob again as there were probably very few spotted and speckled among the flocks. But the story takes on the most unusual twist. Jacob carved branches, exposing the white beneath the bark. He then put the branches in front of the watering troughs whenever the best of the sheep were drinking and mating there. This resulted in the strongest sheep and goats giving birth to spotted and speckled offspring. Before long, Jacob became rich because his flocks prospered while Laban’s flocks were feeble.
As I pondered this unusual passage, it dawned on me that this was not a lesson in agriculture! God was demonstrating how we, His sheep, reproduce. The watering hole is a place of reflection, which means both gazing at something and meditating on it. Meditation involves our imagination. If we feed our imagination with thoughts of what we don’t want to become and drink from the well of regret, we reproduce that very thing in ourselves. It doesn’t matter what we want to reproduce. It’s only important what we imagine while we are thinking and drinking at the watering hole of our imagination.
The Importance of Your Imagination
Proverbs says, “For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7). Our imagination is a very powerful part of our being. Everything that has ever been built, made, painted, or developed began in someone’s imagination. We tend to reproduce what we feast our thoughts upon.
What I am realizing about many of us is that we spend much of our lives reacting to what we don’t want to be instead of responding to the call of God on our lives. We waste a lot of energy trying not to be something. In order to not be something I have to keep it in front of me so that I can avoid it. The crazy thing is that I reproduce what I imagine. If I see what I don’t want to be, just envisioning it causes me to reproduce it. This explains why so many people grow up mistreating their children in the same way that their parents abused them. They promised themselves that they would never become like their folks, but they became just like them.
Meditate On The Vision
We break out of this prison by responding to the call of God on our lives and meditating on His vision for us. The word meditation is related to the word medicine. In a positive sense, meditation means to think in such a way as to make oneself healthy. We become the person that He has called us to be when we meditate on the things of God and dream His dreams. The Psalmist wrote, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). Bill Johnson has a creative definition of desire. He breaks it down into two parts: “de” meaning “of,” and “sire” meaning “to father.” When we delight ourselves in God, instead of hanging out in our past, He becomes the father, the sire, of our dreams. Is it easy for you to focus on the call God has on your life instead of on your past? How do you do that? I’d love to hear your insights in the comments!
If you’re interested in more on the subject of finding your royal identity in God and working through the pain of your past, I’ve created a curriculum to go along with my book, Supernatural Ways of Royalty. It launches on October 17th, but you can pre-order it now by clicking here. The curriculum box set includes DVD teachings, a paperback book, an interactive manual for participants and a leader’s guide! It’s great for working through as a small group!
Topics: All TopicsFreedomIdentity