Who Do You Act Like?

So let me ask you . . . who do you act like?  Whose mannerisms have you picked up?  Who taught you to deal with problems that way?  Where did you gain your parenting style?  Who taught you how to express love? Whose marriage do you desire to emulate? For most of us, our childhood years have left many indelible impressions on our life. They have written on the story of who we are.  Some of us had an incredible childhood and some of us had a difficult childhood.  Either way, those experiences have left their mark and they contributed to who we have become.  Do you ever say something and then think, “That sounded just like my mother.”?  I certainly do.  Sometimes I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror and I am making a facial expression just like her.  Many of the things that excited her – excite me.  What frustrated her – frustrates me.  Then there is my dad.  He too, has greatly influenced my life.  I am like him in many, many ways. I am tough like him and have his business sense.  Although, I cringed every time he said, “Because I said so”, guess what – you got it – I said it to my children over and over again.

I am so blessed that my parents are incredible people.  I truly had a wonderful childhood.  Maybe you didn’t.  And I am so sorry for that.  But here are two things I know…1. Good or Bad – our parents greatly influence who we are. 2. God can use every circumstance for our good.  Romans 8:28 tells us “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purposes.” Whether they did right by you or whether they did wrong by you – you have been impacted.  Here are some ways my parents impacted their children.  My mom spent many early morning hours in her recliner with her robe on and Bible in her lap – studying God’s word.  My dad sat at the table every Sunday morning and wrote out the tithe check for church.  They took us to church on Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night. They are committed to each other – they are one.  They love unconditionally.  They are great servants – being there for family and friends. They are very relational and have always had a lot of friends. They are hard workers.  They have always been entrepreneurs.  They are fun and love to go and do things. They are both a bit sarcastic. (oops!) My dad was a strict parent. He is sweet– but at times could be harsh. My mom was/is a perfectionist. As I read that list – there are so many of those attributes that are evident in my life today – the good and the not so good.  While I am a lot like them, I will never be just like either of them.  What about you?  Can you see the results of who your parents are on your life?  What about your children? What have they picked up from you? Do they act just like you?

Well, God is so good.  Even if you read the above paragraph and thought, I wish those were my parents. Even if you hope and pray you are nothing like your parents.  Even if there are characteristics you wish you had not passed onto your children, there is hope.  As your heavenly Father, God created you in His image.  And while we will never be just like Him, we can take on the characteristics of Him.  By building our relationship with the One He sent to die for us, Jesus and growing in His word every day we can learn to live out the fruits of the Spirit in our life.   Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Quite a list, huh?  Yes, please! We would love to take on those attributes in our life and to pass them on to our children.  But how do we do that?

First of all, we must do a self-examination and truly ask ourselves, “Who do I act like?”  If the answer is not “I act like someone full of the Spirit” then we need to work hard to change.  We need to start to act like our Heavenly Father and we can do that through the promptings of the Holy Spirit.  The more time we devote to our relationship with Jesus, the clearer those promptings will become. We need more time in God’s word, don’t we?

Next, we need to allow our life to produce the fruits described in Galatians.  Sometimes those fruits are in contrast to what we were taught as a child.  Maybe you were taught that love was performance based.  If you did good – then you received some love.  Maybe you lived in a dysfunctional household and became accustomed to chaos. Maybe peace is uncomfortable to you. Self-control? What is that?  We don’t have to have had any experience in these areas.  We just need to accept God’s word as truth and believe that He has instilled these fruits in us through the Holy Spirit.  We just need to bear them in our life.  Accept that we are to love unconditionally – just as Christ loves us.  We are to count it all Joy – believing that God will use everything we go through for good.  We are to have peace – resting in the peace that passes all understanding because God is with us.  We are to be patient – waiting on the Lord.  We are to be kind – esteeming others better than ourselves. We are to be good – doing good and honoring God in all we do.  We are to be faithful – trusting God and walking in that faith.  We are to be gentle – letting go of all anger, malice and wrath.  We are to exhibit self-control – giving control of our self to God.

And then we need to live those fruits out in a way that our children’s lives and all those around us are greatly influenced.  We can do that by loving and accepting others – just the way they are.  We can express joy – putting Jesus first in our life, others next and yourself last. We can exhibit peace and be a safe place for others to come – not reacting – but lovingly responding to others.  We can be kind – offering a kind word and being careful to lift others up and never tear them down.  We can just be “good people”. That is probably southern slang – but growing up I often heard “they are good people”.  What a great way to have your family to be described.  We can live out faithfulness.  Others are watching us.  When a crisis arises – our faith or lack of is on display.  Are you full of worry or full of faith? Gentleness –  this is hard to describe.  After researching this, it means to be humble and polite.  It means to have a quite restrain toward others.  It takes great strength to be gentle.  And we need to exhibit self-control – controlling our words, controlling our actions and controlling our thoughts.  We need to make our life less about me and more about the One who created me.

Let’s all work hard! The next time someone asks, “Who do you act like?  Let’s smile and shrug our shoulders – but in our heart know that it is only by God’s grace and our commitment to Him that we are growing to be more and more like our heavenly Father every day.

Let me know what you think.  Comment and share.