“Therefore, say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Will you defile yourselves after the manner of your fathers and play the harlot after their detestable things?”’”
Some time ago, I received news that shook my concept of who and what I am. I will not go into details, as I do not think it appropriate for so public a medium, but this news altered everything it touched. And it touched a rather impressive amount of my life. Learning about the past can have that effect.
This morning’s verse feels like a challenge to me; a gauntlet thrown down and waiting for me to take it up. This verse asks, in essence, whether I — or anyone, really — am going to repeat the wrongs of those gone before; whether I will make the same wrongs — for they are not mistakes if I know them to be wrong — knowing full well the consequences and ramifications of that choice. Knowing the sins that have led to discipline and judgment; knowing the wrongs of those gone before me, I must choose for myself.
The modern Western world has a tendency to blame parents or caregivers for the way in which a person turns out. We have become so steeped in psychology and psychiatry that we ignore free will. Certainly, parents and caregivers have a part to play in how a person turns out, but there comes a moment when the challenge issued by today’s verse is issued into every life: Decide whether or not you will repeat the wrongs of those before you.
I do not want to minimize the difficulty in overcoming behaviors that have been instilled and reinforced by poor upbringing, but we each have our own will and we each make our own choices — even (perhaps especially) those who make no choices at all. We each choose whether or not we will transgress like our fathers.
This feels like a continuation of yesterday’s line of thinking — each and every soul, individually, belongs to God. That being true, each and every soul must individually decide whether or not to offer him- or her-self back to the God Who made them. But this is also an elaboration on yesterday’s thought. Will we walk in the ways of our fathers or in the way of our Heavenly Father? The choice, always, is our own.
While that may seem daunting and overwhelming to some, I am almost ready to shed tears of relief, knowing that the path walked by those gone before need not be my own. I have heard so much about how my actions are prescribed that I come very near believing it. But it simply is not true. I am the helmsman of my own life and I determine which star I follow. The challenge is for me to be different; to chart my own course and not fall into the ruts cut by those who have gone before me.
All that is left for me is to say: Challenge accepted.