February 10, 2011

Family Tree

Picture it - the Mountains of east Tennessee, 1980. 19551936. 1918.  A baby girl is born - shortly there after, her mother dies.  Her father, not knowing how to care for a child, gives his daughter to relatives to raise. 

Some years later, she meets a handsome young man and they marry.  They are blessed with two daughters, but World War II breaks up their family and sends him to Africa.  While serving there, he catches malaria and is shipped back to the States, but not home.  She travels across the country to Washington state to see her love.

Hard to understand I'm sure, but the events of my family tree all those years ago, helped shape me into the woman I am today.  I'm the great granddaughter of an alcoholic and an abandoned orphan. 

When put in that light, I seem really normal don't I?

Let me just get out there that I'm not judging or blaming anyone.  It is, however, helpful for me to be able to dig back and see why my family is the way it is.  (The other side really isn't all that more "normal" either.)  My great-grandmother never had an example how to be a parent.

As a result my grandmother's example was set through trial and error.  Somewhere along the way we began to learn that messing up wasn't an option.  Perfection was demanded.  And because we couldn't be perfect, we were bad. wrong. worthless.  garbage.

What does that have to do with @stickyJesus - file 9: humility?

We thought humility meant putting ourselves down even more.  We didn't understand that "Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.C.S. Lewis" as Michelle points out on today's read along post.

Because we didn't understand that, as we tried to build our self esteem, we did that wrong too.

How do you undo 4 generations worth of faulty thinking?  One baby step at a time.  The number of followers that you see over there >>> has nothing to do with my worth as a person, or even my ability as a writer.  I know I've lost followers here and there, but I can't allow myself to be hurt by it.  Its (probably) not a personal reflection of me.

As I've said every week and will most likely continue saying until the end of the read along, these aren't just principles that can be applied to the Land of Shiny Things (aka the Internet).  Its also something I desperately need to work on in my marriage and my interaction with those around me.

Most of you know that my husband and I are currently remodeling our house.  I've been very unhappy with the slow progression of the work.  Now that its mostly done, I'm unhappy with the result.  All this time (and money) spent for that

My husband is getting frustrated with me because he thinks that I'm impossible to please.  What he doesn't understand, is that perfectionism is a tough battle to fight.  I talked a little about it yesterday, but this whole train of thought was prompted by reading this blog. Which I found because I went to Stuff Christians Like for a laugh.  Because I was frustrated and upset because the remodel job isn't going as I'd like.

Isn't God good?  Even when we aren't asking Him for guidance He's still there pushing us in the direction we need to go.

My first thoughts and frustrations about the house not turning out the way I wanted?  I'll never have anything nice.  Throw all the money in the world at it, and I'll still just be that poor little girl who can't afford what she wants.  I don't deserve anything nice.

So while my hubby thought I was upset at the french fry colored piece of wood in the land of black walnut, it really went much deeper than that.

Then this morning, God led me down another path.  Same topic, different application.  The radio station I listen too was promoting the Hawk Nelson CD Crazy Love and were asking of instances where their listeners demonstrated love that didn't make sense in their lives.  The girl who called in told a story of heart ache, and how she was still working to bless the person who hurt her.

Logging online afterward, God hit me with this blog.  Part of our crazy messed up family tree is taking offense to things that no offense was meant by.  I try to make a game out of it now, to show myself how ridiculous it is.  One example of such behavior is getting served a diet coke (I had ordered regular) and assuming it was because the server thought I was fat and subconsciously wanted to help me out.

If I get that offended by a mistake, think about how hurt I get when someone intentionally harms me.  I have trouble letting go, forgiving.  "Remember that you are dead to these things."  Christ has given me a new life, washed clean of sin.  How can I stay clean if I keep picking up and clutching tightly the sins others have committed against me?

So that person I thought liked me but was really just faking it for their own motives?  Humility is not agreeing with them - that they were right to say bad things about me.  Humility is not fighting back with all my might. 

Humility is knowing they were wrong yet continuing to minister to them with the love of Jesus.  They don't deserve to be treated with that kind of mercy and grace, but then again neither did I.  I'm sure glad God didn't let that stop Him.

Disclosure: Amazon Affiliate links included in this post. If you click through to Amazon from Smart + Strong = Sexy, any purchase you make supports this site.


  1. I don't think being upset because a job that you paid good money for isn't being done to your liking or in a timely manner is being unreasonable. I would be upset by that too. Also, thinking you don't deserve nice things isn't right either, because you do.

    We are certainly shaped by our ancestors, but we are not defined my them.

  2. I love that quote.

    I struggle with perfectionism, too. And I believe focusing on my imperfections is a form of pride. I'm working on that. ;)

    Great post, Brooke!

  3. Isn't it weird how something that happened so long ago can affect our lives to such a degree! It can be hard to break those chains. Thinking of ourselves less is a great start!

  4. Another great post! It's interesting how the things from our pasts - and our parents...does make a difference in our lives. Of course we aren't stuck in those situations.
    Anyway - I really enjoyed reading this.

  5. that quote is awesome. i'm SO saving that, tweeting that, reminding myself of that. and what an incredible post. perfectionism is (obviously) something i've struggled with quite a bit. there are definitely reasons in my family tree as well...but i think i needed that reminder from you today :)

  6. Brooke: You had me from "A baby girl is born." It takes courage to peel back the layers that contribute to a mindset. I think you are right on in beginning to dive deeper into this chapter by starting there. I walk with you in that process and realize so much about my "tude" is baked into my soul.

    I was nodding with your marital frustrations too. My favorite line I toss at my husband: "Asking me to change who I am is like asking me to unbake a cake." I too carry the perfection DNA as related to many children of alcoholics.

    You are RIGHT ON. One step at a time (echoing "one day at a time"). I stand firmly on the belief that we will get there. And, opening up our hearts in such a way, with those on the same path, will only get us there sooner.

    I'm glad this is a discipleship book for you. That's the heart of it and really just a reinforcement of the spiritual disciplines on line, off line or in a hot air balloon!

    Bless you my friend. I'm standing with you.

    And, as my husband also encourages me: "If God can part the Red Sea Toni, I think He can unbake your cake!"

    I'm believing I am dead to the things that go against the ABLENESS of God to work miracles in my personality and self worth.

    Awesome post, Brooke!

  7. Great Post!! Brent and I have had Crazy Love on repeat all night!!

  8. Hi Brooke! I've missed visiting you!

    First of all...what family is ever "normal." I mean really?! So don't worry because you are just as "normal" as everyone else!

    Second, totally understand you about the perfectionism. I've been working on that the past few years and it has made me miserable until recently. I'm reading this book called the "Power of Now" and it's really helped me. Just a suggestion.

    You will conquer this battle with perfectionism though. You are aware of it and you want to change - that's half the battle! Fight on!!

  9. What a terrible thing to have to deal with. Perfectionism. I feel I can never achieve that. So I don't even try : ) I just try to be the best I can be. I know perfect is FAR from my best : ) But you know what? My best is perfect enough!

    Praying for you as you continue to work through your issues Brooke. The 20's are tumultuous years for so many.

  10. Wow, Brooke, this is a very powerful post.... So many of us women live right here. Thank you for sharing from your heart. Hugging you. and thanks for sharing our book here with your readers. Love you much, Lynn

  11. Thanks for linking to me. :) I'm so glad God used my flawed life to minister to you.



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