Last night I watched the movie Everything Must Go. On a scale of 1-10, I’d give it about a 7. It’s good if you’re bored, but if you want to see a good movie, I’d watch something else. However, there was something that stirred up a few emotions last night.
If you don’t want me to spoil the movie, browse away now.
It’s centered around a man named Nick Halsey, a prominent business man for a major corporation who has made a lot of money for himself. He has a beautiful home with a beautiful lawn and a really nice car. But, like his father, he’s an alcoholic. The story opens up with him losing his job and his wife because of his alcoholism.
At one point in the movie – near the turning point – he watches an old film strip from when he was younger. He sees himself playing as a kid, riding his bike, and enjoying life with his mother. When the camera cuts to his father, there’s a beer can in his hand and he’s flipping off his wife. Nick sees himself making that hand gesture.
I’ve often heard the phrase, “Like father, like son,” and then I’ve seen quite a few cases amongst several people I know where this is true. I think there is even scientific evidence of this trait and, if I’m not mistaken, it’s called “genetic predispositions.” The way I’ve understood this is that one is genetically inclined to be like one’s parents – i.e. Nick Halsey being the alcoholic just like his father was.
This disturbed me a little last night because when I think of what my father did – or rather, didn’t – I get scared that I might do the same. In case you don’t know my story, my biological father bailed before I was born. On my birth certificate where it says “Father,” there are only a couple asterisks. No name. If the phrase, “Like father, like son,” holds true, then it means I might bail on my son before he’s born. And that absolutely terrifies me.
Last night I thought of all the other things that my father was: promiscuous, addicted to drugs, and probably a convict. And once one factor triggered my fear, all the other factors amplified it. I suddenly found myself slightly believing that I’ll fall not far from the tree of my biological dad and probably wind up homeless with a long string of one-night stands. I know it’s stupid now, but I believed it for a moment.
Key words: for a moment.
As per usual, I immediately dove into prayer. Crying, sniffling, and stuttering, I asked God for comfort – for His comfort. I did this for about 20 minutes or so and then turned off my light to go to bed. As soon as I laid my head down, I realized something. I realized why these fears are causing a lot of emotional pain for me; because they’re being purged from me.
I don’t mean to say God’s torturing me; I mean to say He’s removing the filth from me. Part of that filth is the fear of failure passed down to me from my father. If the genetic predisposition thing is true, God is re-writing mine. Essentially, by following Christ, I’m breaking the mold – not just of my biological father, but of humanity itself. My father was driven towards sex, drugs, and alcohol to burry his pain. But I’m turning to Christ for healing from that pain.
I wrote all of these thoughts down as quickly as I could so I could write this blog today. When I was done, I started to feel a little hope. And then a Scripture came to mind:
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world,” – John 16:33
Jesus promises us this life will be excruciatingly painful and challenging (pun intended), but He also promises us that through Him, we’re freed from the sinful cycles of this world. We don’t have to turn to drugs, sex, commodities, alcohol, or money to numb the pain; it’s been crucified with Christ at His cross. We are now free – not only from hell and condemnation, but from ourselves and our genetic predispositions as humans.
Even though the movie wasn’t that great, it really brought to light things God has been teaching me all along. I, like Nick Halsey, can choose not to be like my father and to break those genetic codes. But unlike Nick Halsey, if I choose the cross of Christ every single day of my life – I will have peace within myself. It isn’t a peace that I had to fight for; it’s a peace that I simply needed to let in. God is knocking at the doors of our hearts not to place a bunch of rules and commandments over us; but to give us His peace – His peace that He knows we desperately need.
“Like Father, like Son” remains true… but becomes the greatest truth when God is our Father. In Christ, He is giving us His genetic predispositions. There is nothing greater than that.
“The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart,” – Proverbs 17:3 (NIV)