“You look just like your mother!”old family photo

I don’t see it. I really don’t.

My mother’s blond and fair. I’m brunette and olive-skinned. She’s 5’4”. I’m 5’9”. Her eyes are hazel, mine are brown.

But there’s one trait I bear unmistakably. I’m co-dependent, too.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my mom. She’s one of the most generous people I know. She has literally given me the shirt off her back (although it really didn’t fit ‘cause she’s a size 4 and I’m an 8). When she comes to visit, she cleans my house so thoroughly I could eat off the kitchen floor. And she’s the coolest 70+ woman I know, especially when she arrives at my house on her Ducati (that’s a mongo street bike).

But why, O why did I have to inherit my control issues from her?

We all inherit “stuff” from our family. I’ve never had much interest in doing the Kelly genealogy (my maiden name) since my mother came right from the “old country” (Estonia) and my grandmother on my Dad’s side did too (Czechoslovakia), so I can’t proudly trace my roots back to Thomas Jefferson, John Locke, or Thomas Paine (famous writers all). I don’t know anything about who I came from.

Sometimes ignorance is bliss because without knowledge of my family history, I have nobody to be ashamed of or embarrassed about, nor do I have anyone I have to live up to.

So imagine my surprise as I read through Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew 1 and saw who—or better, what—his family was.  Solomon was a sexual addict and a bigamist (he had more than 700 wives and 300 concubines). David was an adulterer and murderer (he slept with Bathsheba and had her husband killed). Rehab was a prostitute. Jacob was a master con-artist (he deceived his father for his brother’s birthright and then systematically pilfered from his uncle). Judah sold his brother into slavery and had an incestuous relationship with his daughter-in-law.

How’d you like those ancestors? It’s amazing Jesus turned out as well as he did.

Which gives me hope–and should give anyone hope–if they have skeletons in their family closet.  Our family’s weaknesses and generational sins do not have to enslave us or define us. They do not have to dictate our choices or lifestyles. They do not have to predict the outcome of our life.

Who we become is up to us and us alone.

Now to be fair, Solomon wrote Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon. David was called a man after God’s own heart. Rehab repented, married, and had Boaz, King David’s grandfather. Jacob was the father of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. And Judah superseded his three older brothers to inherit the first-born rights of future kings, David and Solomon among them.

So I guess we get the good with the bad. But you better believe I’m going to fight every single day of my life to give my kids the memories of a mom who refused to let sin rule her and who walked in my other Father’s footsteps.

What family characteristics have you had to overcome?