Remember those who went before

It’s Narcissist Friday!

My wife is a genealogist. She loves to find connections between us and people of the past. Because of her work, we know something of the names and lives of a large number of the people who went before us. When we add the historical record to our lineage, our appreciation of our ancestors only grows.

Our ancestors struggled in ways we may never fully understand. Some of them worked hard and long hours just to feed their family. Most of them were poor by today’s standards and just barely making it by the standards of their own day.

Although we were studying our family histories long before the television series “Roots” was presented, the story that Alex Haley wrote was an encouragement to us. Our story has not been the same as his, of course. But his appreciation for his ancestors and their struggle touched our hearts.

One of my ancestors was burned at the stake for his faith. Now, that’s a pretty extreme example, but several had to leave their homes to avoid war or starvation. Others went to war and lost limbs or even their lives. Yes, they were survivors for a while at least, but their survival was a challenge.

Part of the reason this is important is because the narcissists and others want to separate us from the support structure God has built into our lives. The stronger our family ties, the less power the abuser has over us. Even the knowledge and appreciation we feel toward those who struggled before us is a threat to the abuser.

So, the abuser will mock our ancestry and belittle our family. He/she has little appreciation for parents or grandparents or anyone else who contributed to the situation today. So, neither should you. The narcissist should be enough for you, I guess.

Instead, you build strength in your heart when you are grateful for those who lived before. And think about how many people contributed to your life in that way. You had four grandparents but eight great-grandparents and sixteen great-great-grandparents. The farther back you go, the more there are. All of them had some contribution.

Yes, they had their problems. Some of them failed in life. They failed to love their children. Some of them were cruel or abusive themselves. But not all. In fact, by far not most. Most of your ancestors were good people who tried to do right. They struggled with life just like you do.

Remembering and appreciating them makes you stronger. Even if you don’t know their names, you know they were there. They contributed to your life. Give thanks to God for them.

You honor your ancestors, and all those who contributed to your life, when you seek to follow Jesus with a whole heart. When you rest in His power and His love, you bring healing to yourself and to the family you have today. Even those ancestors who were not good, who hurt their families and others, are honored by your kindness and faith.

One thing the Lord planted firmly into the hearts and culture of the Jews was this appreciation for those who went before. The stories of the Old Testament teach us and lift us up, but they are just family stories passed down through the generations. Many Jews even today know which tribe they represent and a good deal about their ancestry. It puts their lives into perspective, gives them hope, and reminds them of the activity of God in and through His people.

1 Comment

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One response to “Remember those who went before

  1. Steve Tompkins

    What a great perspective! I never thought of it this way…thanks!

    “You honor your ancestors…when you seek to follow Jesus with a whole heart.” Amen!

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