Random Blog Clay Feet: December 20, 2008
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Saturday, December 20, 2008


I am starting to sense that I need to align myself differently with the legacy of my father than I have done thus far. Up to this point I have generally seen his combativeness, his meddling in other people's spiritual lives and his critical relationship toward the church as things for me to totally avoid. As a result of all these faults that to me were so obvious in his life I have found it difficult to perceive clearly many of his true strengths of character, things in his life that were worth emulating and admiring. I am not saying that I don't think there are any there, I am just saying that it is hard for me to see them clearly from my close proximity as one wounded by many of his mistakes.

I have spent many years very slowly and sometimes painfully working through a process of healing from much of the damage caused in my life by my dad's mistakes. I don't believe that it is wrong to say that, for an important part of my own healing has been to finally admit that many of the things that happened to me were in fact wrong, hurtful and not in line with God's ways. My perception of God was severely distorted by my dad's mistaken ideas about Him that were so prevalent when he was growing up. When I finally could see those faulty beliefs in the light of truth and identify them as part of the causes of the deep wounds in my heart, then my heart could begin to come back to life, to be willing to take the risk of coming back into the light very tentatively and consider functioning as a heart is supposed to function in relationship with others.

For this healing to continue and deepen, my willingness to identify the real causes of the lies embedded in me like slivers and burrs buried deep in my flesh has been a critical and necessary element. I realize that there is still much more internal healing that needs to happen as more memories are uncovered and more pain is exposed to the light of grace and the real truth about God. But now I am sensing that it may be time to move into a more advanced phase of my healing and to begin to see even more truth about my dad that will have a different kind of maturing effect in my life. It is time to begin to move beyond seeing clearly the faults of my dad and without ignoring those or hiding from them again, it is time to add a knowledge and awareness of the other aspects of his example that are worth appreciating, are worth emulating, the unique character traits that were important and that have been passed on to me as God-ordained gifts from my family heritage.

God designed the human mind to function under the “rules” or principles of family-type relationships. And even though sin has largely wreaked havoc in this area as Satan has sought to obliterate every trace of God's original purpose for family governance of His people, the hard-wiring is still in place within every human and the plan of salvation is God's way of reviving these ancient paths in the brain and to awaken them to be used for their original purpose once again. The more we understand the true purpose and design of family relationships, the more unity we are going to see among God's people and the more effectiveness and power of the gospel will be displayed in the lives of His children who will reflect His character of perfect love to an amazed watching world.

I am starting to feel conviction that it is time for me to become more aware of the noble traits of character that kept my father going for so many years even though his early years were filled with trouble, pain and weaknesses. I need to have the stories of his life reviewed and re-analyzed from a new perspective so that the parts of my father that reside inside of myself can know how to act properly and be utilized to accomplish what God intended for them. For those who are trying to follow God in obedience, each generation receives the opportunity to build on the past generation and to take the work of character development much farther than the last. If I am willing to be honest and fully aware of how my dad failed to follow God's ways, even though that was done in ignorance, but to also become fully aware of how my dad developed character that was in line with God's ways that may have made him a non-conformist with others around him, then I can be prepared to know both what to avoid in my own experience and just as importantly know what to leverage to my advantage and to God's glory.

I have been alerted in the past few weeks to little things about what I remember of my dad that I previously thought were things to avoid at all costs but are actually things that partially need to be strengthened. Though especially in his later years his strengths became more and more perverted due to the pervasive bitterness that was taking over his soul and spirit, the underlying strengths of character that served him very well in earlier years are still worth emulating. And since I have been invested through the principle of inherited family tendencies with many of the character assets of my parents, I need to learn how to sort through all these various legacies from them and make use of the ones that are worth keeping and learn to leverage them more astutely for my own growth. If I do this properly, I think that there may be immense inner power available that I am currently very unaware of lying latent inside of me like a trunk full of treasures gathering dust and undiscovered in an attic.

I don't feel competent to identify completely all that is good or bad from my dad's past, but I do know that God can be trusted to guide me through this sorting process to discard that which is harmful and to incorporate and strengthen that which is needed in my own experience and character. What I am coming to realize is that in trying to reject the faults of my father I can unintentionally also throw out some of the things of great value in my haste to unload the pain from my past. Now that I have been freed of much of the pain of my past and feel more secure in the arms of my real Father in heaven, I feel Him urging me to go back and reconsider some of my previous evaluations and to take back into my life the things that He shows me are really worth keeping and incorporate them into my own life.

It is sort of like sorting through the tools in a garage filled with all sorts of junk, collections from many years and strange things that I am not completely familiar with myself. I actually helped do this very thing with my adopted daughter a few years ago. After her dad died we began to sort through her large garage and shed that was packed to the rafters with all sorts of things: tools, lumber, car parts, parts for nearly anything imaginable as well as antiques, furniture and lots and lots of junk. She knew almost nothing about the usefulness or value of many of these things and was very afraid she would discard something of value. But at the same time she felt suffocated living in a house overflowing with things she knew she would never likely use herself.

It took us several years of sorting, negotiating, waiting for memories to subside and emotional releasing for us working together to reduce the huge inventory of stuff in that house. She came to depend on me to give her guidance as to the identity of many of the things she was totally unfamiliar with in order to decide what to do with it. I myself had to be very cautious and disinterested in my assistance even though I was doing most of the actual work of sorting, rearranging and deciding what was worth keeping or selling and what should just be hauled away. I had to be very careful under the circumstances not to ask for anything for myself even though there were some tools I could have used from this huge stash of inherited stuff. There were boxes and boxes of various tools and many things that I could have used in the work that I do. But because of my unique relationship with her and because of her extreme sensitivity about everything under her control, I learned to just keep my desires to myself and just give her my opinions about whether or not she should keep each item and what she might possibly do with it if she did not want it.

It is starting to feel a little bit this way in looking back on my own pile of character traits passed on from my ancestors to me. I am not wise enough to always know what is valuable and what should be tossed out or burned. Because of my lack of perspective or experience I have to depend on outside advice and guidance to learn what I need to get healing for and what I need to learn to keep and even utilize for my own life. For there are many very valuable tools from the past that if I learned how to use them properly could save me a great deal of expense and time trying to recreate them for myself through hard experiences. I likely will find that I don't have to necessarily go out and reinvent the wheel so to speak when I already have a number of them sitting around in my inner garage. I just need to learn how to use them properly and trust in God to teach me how to implement them better than how my parents used them.

One thing in particular in my dad's life that has caused me mixed emotions was his boldness in “standing up for truth” in the face of any and all opposition. On the surface this looks like a no-brainer for religiously-inclined people. The cliché sounds very noble, but behind the scenes I experienced pain of embarrassment and also saw how his boldness was often not exercised in love and true compassion. What I have observed over the years, not only with my own father but with many like him, is that this attitude of boldness is used as a religious excuse for judging and condemning others while claiming to be a defender of truth. Because of the abuse of this God-given gift of boldness, I have tended to lean very strongly in the other direction most of my life. Since a very young age I have tended to be somewhat timid and sensitive to not offending others unnecessarily. That has ended up producing in my life a very strange mixture of both of these elements that is not necessarily a good outcome. I have often been both aggressive and hurtful while at the same time being very fearful and withdrawn. It is something like having the worst of both my dad and my own character flaws mixed in together.

I now realize that the real problem that caused my dad's strengths to become misdirected and hurtful many times was his misunderstandings about the real meaning of most of the religious words and concepts taught in the Bible and the church. He certainly knew the standard ideas of religion and had a very strong grasp on doctrines and theological facts, but like most of us he had almost no true experiential knowledge of the spirit side of truth and had very few encounters with real love. Thus his experience was very lop-sided and he became more and more unbalanced as he got into his later years.

But his legacy has caused me to be almost paranoid about this tool of boldness. As a result I have tended to gravitate more toward avoidance of confrontation which I still believe is better than the damaging outbursts that caused my father so many problems. But God is wanting to teach me how to be bold in His way and for His glory instead of for my agenda and opinions like my dad did. Because God has spent years retraining me as to the real meaning of many of the religious words and concepts of His kingdom, I am far better positioned to utilize the element of boldness in ways that could honor God's reputation instead of damaging it like my dad too often did.

I am not saying that my dad ever intended to hurt God's reputation. That was the last thing he wanted to do. But because of his partial ignorance about the real character of God, and because he had so little real unconditional love shown to him, and because his heart was so deeply damaged and unhealed from his early experiences in life, he spent nearly all his life trying to do religion the best way he could figure out. But the outcome was that he used many of God's tools entrusted to him in ways that were not always the best for God's family or for his own.

But I have the wonderful advantage of being able to see all of this in much greater perspective than he ever could. I have the ability to see both what to avoid as well as what he had that laid a better foundation for me than what he started with. And it is this latter area that I am now realizing that I am lacking in knowledge of at this point. It is his strengths that I need to become more familiar with and it is my privilege to learn how to use the tools passed on to me in ways that will honor and strengthen the work of God in other people's hearts instead of using them abusively in ways that tear apart the work of God in hearts. And as I do this, the legacy and efforts of my own dad over his years of trial and error will be used by God to not just honor God but will greatly improve and enhance the reputation of my own father.