Skip to main content

How Both Rejection and Reenforcement of the Past Affects the Present


It is remarkable how great of an impact a person's childhood has on their adulthood.

More than we realize, our expectations and reactions are shaped not on what is reasonable and right, but on how we grew up and how we have chosen, either consciously or subconsciously, to allow that growing up to form and inform our adulthood.  Wow, that's a mouthful.  Let me explain.

I grew up in a house on a pretty tight budget; for most of my life I lived in a single income home.  My dad worked hard driving a semi while my mom worked hard taking of my three siblings and I.  Because of this, I ate lots of leftovers, reused things most people throw away, and didn't take many trips or family vacations.  That wasn't bad, it was just my normal.  But now as an adult I have to chose what my new normal will be.  I have to decide if I will continue to eat leftovers, reuse as much as possible, or go on vacations.  

In thinking about this there are two ways I have found myself responding to these choices.  

One way to respond is to reject the past.  I can throw out all those behaviors and attitudes that I grew up with.  My thinking is like this.  I can leave all the lights on in the house all day if I want, and if I want to heat the whole neighborhood by leaving the doors open, well by golly I am an adult and I can!    

A second way to respond is to reenforce the past.  I can grab hold tightly to everything and work hard to push the past into the future.  When I do this my behavior looks like this.  I tell my kids to put away their clothes baskets every Saturday because when I was a kid I put my clothes basket away every Saturday (I doubt I did this exact thing, but you get the point)!

Rejecting and reenforcing the past creates all kinds of difficulty in a marriage.  

Two people, from completely different backgrounds, and with completely different experiences and baggage and expectations, are now force to chose what to reject and reenforce, in the context of their relationship.  This is really tough!  My spouse my not like what I choose to reenforce.  I may agree with what my spouse wants to reject.  Neither spouse, at least at firsts, understands or empathizes with the reasons for the other person's behavior.

The first step to resolving this difficulty is to recognize that my behavior is probably not as "right" as I think it is.  It takes humility to honestly assess attitudes and actions in determining if they are as appropriate and necessary as they initially seem to be.  Many people die on the alter of rejection and reinforcement instead of doing the hard work of understanding another person and being selfless enough to set aside personal preferences for the sake of the relationship.
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

5 Reasons I Won't Let My Kids Wear Clothes with Skulls on Them

Yesterday I threw out a poll question on my Facebook and Twitter pages.  The poll question asked, "Should Christians wear attire with skulls on it?"  I received some great comments from people with a variety of opinions.  You can read the comments on my timeline from 8/8/13.

My opinion is that Christians should not wear clothes with skulls on them.

I don't have one specific Bible verse that I can use to prove my point.  Jesus never said, "Thou shalt not wear clothes with skulls."  I do however think there are number of conclusions that can be drawn from Scripture that support my opinion.

1.  Jesus does care about the clothes we wear.
I don't believe God's people are free to wear whatever they want.  From the Old Testament all the way through the New Testament you can find Biblical language related to clothes.  There are laws in Leviticus about clothes.  God instructed the OT priests on what to wear don't believe God's people are free to wear wh…

How Stephanie and I Celebrated 15 Years of Marriage

Yesterday Stephanie and I celebrated 15 years of marriage! 
To kick off the festivities, on Wednesday afternoon Stephanie bought a new car from Harry Browns in Faribault. She said good goodbye to the minivan and bought a 2014 Dodge Journey. She picked out a great new vehicle and her dad Ralph channeled his inner New Yorker to haggle us a great price.
We started the day Thursday driving to St. Peter to pick up Isabelle from the "Gustie" Basketball and Leadership camp. She spent 4 days there learning, practicing and having a blast. We celebrated together as a family with some Godfather's Pizza!
After getting back to Northfield I dropped the kids off at some friend's houses so Stephanie and I could be alone together. Having great friends who help with the kids is such a blessing. 
Stephanie had the idea that we should get tattoos together. She didn't have to work hard to convince me! After asking for recommendations on Facebook we decided to check out  Guns and Nee…

Lessons from Mt Everest

It would be great is life was all fun and easy and exciting like glissading down a mountain side.  However life is actually much more like climbing up the mountain.  It is difficult, painful, dangerous and exhilarating all wrapped up into one.
Last Sunday I preached at a church in Northfield and I shared some thoughts about this.  I compared lessons I've learned studying mountain climbing to lessons I've learned living life.  Here are the five things I talked about, along with some accompanying Bible verses.
1. You have to have a goal and you have to work hard towards achieving it, sometimes for a long time ---> Jer 29:10-14  2. You have to expect setbacks (injury, weather, enemies, catastrophe) and roll with them ----> 2 Cor 4:8-10  3. You have to push yourself beyond what you thought possible ----> Phil 4:13  4. In most cases, you need others to help you (guides, logistics, cheerleaders, friends, expedition leader) ----> Heb 10:15   5. You have to acknowledg…