These three sweet girls, my great nieces, recently had dinner with me and spent an evening listening to family stories. It seems the James side of the family has not done a very good job of talking about our early years. I was happy to comply, but in all honesty, it is difficult to know where to even begin. Although we grew up in Mayberry, Andy and Aunt Bee were not part of the family picture. Life was wonderful, but also complicated and sometimes not so pretty. We are all intricate combinations of our past experiences, our genetic pool, and the environment we find ourselves placed in. One thing is for certain, every story is different, because of the eyes we gaze through. My perception of our growing up years can be completely different from my brothers. Though we certainly agree upon a great deal, we also saw things from our own personal vantage point and how those things affected us.
One of the girls, during the evening's discussion, said, "I want to know the dirt." If you want dirt, you need to watch daytime television! I laughed at her and told her part of the dirt involves me and I have no intention of telling on myself. I shared with my niece before they came over, if you think I am telling them more than they need to know, please give me the high sign. The question becomes what is history that might be helpful and what is too much. I think it is very helpful to understand why we all act and react the way we do, and some information can be extremely helpful. Some of what I could share, can be vital information as they make life decisions. I have been very careful to not try to repeat generational sins. Alcoholism runs in the family, so we all need to be careful with alcohol consumption. Our need for order runs through the family. Understanding who is an extrovert and who is an introvert is important to consider when observing our interaction with others. The more information we have, the better we are able to understand ourselves.
When you combine this intricacy with the fact that we are the products of two sets of genes, it only gets more and more complicated. My siblings and I have marked familial traits, but also are very different based upon the many years since we lived together as children. Each of us has lived very similar lives, yet also greatly different lives. We have been influenced by our spouses, their families, our careers, and the friends we have chosen. Those early years are extremely important, but they are not the entire story.
SO, where am I going? I have thought a lot about "The Dirt". Perhaps I am wrong, but I strongly suspect we all get a little dirty along the way. It's what we do after the mud bath that is important. I believe we get a very clear picture of what we do with the knowledge of the dirt from The Word--over and over. David is a perfect example. Though he was a man after God's own heart, he certainly wallowed around in the mud from time to time. We read he always suffered the consequences, but he also repented, and turned from his sin. We can't take back our sin, but we can scrub away the dirt by repenting. No need to stay dirty, and we can once again become clean. Use the information and learn from it, but get out of the pit and try again.
Yep, there's a little dirt in most families, but we love them all the same. It's important to know the family history, but it is not a scapegoat for our behavior. When you mess up, name it and claim it, repent and turn from it. Leave the dirt of yesterday in the past, and walk into tomorrow with the sure hope of the good plans He has for you. We are part of our families, but we are more important His adopted child.