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Passed on or Learned

So Jesus answered them, “I tell you the truth: the Son can do nothing on his own; he does only what he sees his Father doing. What the Father does, the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. He will show him even greater things to do than this, and you will all be amazed.” ‭‭John‬ ‭5‬:‭19‬-‭20‬ ‭

Reading this, I know that just as Jesus looked to the Father for what He did so I am to look to His example and the Father for my instructions. Holy Spirit lives within me and can guide me in all things of the Lord. Today though, my mind went to how the supplies in the natural. Possibly because I've had a few conversations this week about genetics versus environment.

I do believe that our body holds on to trauma. That trauma can be passed through our DNA. It has been showing that while DNA is not altered it can be activated or deactivated by traumatic events. The information is emerging but epigenetics is a fast growing field of study.

However, I also believe that many behaviors are learned. This scripture goes to show that Jesus only did what He saw the Father do. Children do what they see their parents or others in their environment do. Could there be a genetic component? Yes, but that can be harder to separate out because we are in our environment and learning from it constantly.

Some responses from children are a mirror image of an adult they see behaving in a particular way. For example, a parent throws a fit of anger and the child throws a fit of anger. A parent says something, that is soon repeated by a toddler who doesn't know the meaning of it.

As parents most of us have probably experienced a child repeating what we have said, often in the most inopportune time. Like when my daughter was about ten and visited me at work. She stood in my boss's door and said "Mom she seems nice. She isn't a ****." Unfortunately she was only repeating what I said. Although her comment was innocent, she was old enough to know what that word meant. I couldn't play off the word as a accident, she was mirroring what she heard. Lesson learned!

Other times, children respond to their environment as a way of self-protection. It doesn't have to be an abusive environment for this to happen. A parent might want to see their child try harder, but the child internalizes comments and feels perfection is the only way to get approval. The parent could have said something very innocent like "This report card looks great! What can you do to get this C to a B next time?" The child may only hear "You should have at least a B." If a C really was the child's best effort, the child may feel inadequate. The child may begin to push themselves beyond what is healthy to get the expected B. They may develop an internal dialogue of "In order to be okay, I have to push myself to meet others expectations." This message grows every time a similar message is heard that causes them to feel rejected or not good enough. This creates an unhealth pattern of behavior.

People develop from an early age an internal dialogue to make sense of the world around them. They also develop coping skills at an early age to try to protect themselves and other people that they love. These messages and coping skills often get reinforced, even through there is no validity to message behind them.

For example, many people experience problems with sleep. They explore the root, it can often come from childhood and the messages of self protection. It can be a traumatic event, but it doesn't have to be. I often give the example of a child living with the alcoholic. They may feel they have to stay awake until the parent of the drinks gets home safely. They may also feel the need to make sure that the other parent, their siblings, or themselves are safe if the alcoholic parent has a temper. It could also be just a parent working at a night shift and a child wanting to get a kiss goodnight.

The problem for both of these situations is that we take this childhood habit developed as a response of our environment and we carry it throughout our lifetime. Even after our environment changes, if we don't examine the behavior, it may continue even though we want to sleep through the night. That internal dialogue still plays on auto repeat.

The behavior might even be reinforced unknowingly when the working parent gets home with a snack, story, snuggle or special one on one time. None of this is bad in and of itself. It does reinforces the insomnia. It also can be reinforced with negative patterns if a parent is abused and the child needs to step in to protect the other parent, sibling or self. It reinforces what the child learns from their environment I want to or must stay awake."

When we bring God into the picture and let Him reveal to us the things we learned from our environment, we can see what no longer serves us. We can look to Him as our example as we relearn a different way to respond. He can show us greater things. He brings healing to the areas where we have been stuck for years or even decades. We will be amazed at the healing that He can bring when we look to Him.

Lord, thank You for being an example that I can learn from. As I watch and imitate You, I see amazing things. Thank you for those things You are revealing to me that I have picked up that are not from You. Thank You for showing me I don't have to keep responding in the same way or following someone else's example. I don't have to be bound by generational trauma that is active in my DNA because I am a new creation in Christ. Help me to walk in the healing power of Christ and help me to teach others to do the same. In Christ holy name I pray. Amen.

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