Many kids remember the times when we tried on a parent’s clothes, stepped into their shoes, or tried to do something to mimic the actions of a parent. Ever wonder why we do that? Of course, we all can easily say that it’s because we learn first by watching what those around us do, and at first that usually means our families.
In an article written by PsychCentral, written and published by Rick Nauert, PhD in 2019 stated that “scientists ‘have been finding this odd effect where children will copy everything that they see an adult demonstrate to them, even if there are clear or obvious reasons why those actions would be irrelevant,’ says psychologist Mark Nielsen, of the University of Queensland in Australia. ‘It’s something that we know that other primates don’t do.’ If a chimpanzee is shown an irrelevant action, they won’t copy it — they’ll skip right to the action that makes something happen.” Their findings, thus far, have found this to be true only in the Western part of our world.
Most people know or sense that the natural innateness of our desire to copy adults at those young stages of life are normal, but depending on what is imprinted on us, some or all of it can most definitely be detrimental to us. Fortunately for the human race, we also have free will, and as we learn other aspects of what may be right or wrong, we are able to change and not continue the mistakes or downright evil things we may have witnessed in our growing up years. Perspective is everything.
It has been proven that a growth mindset can change so much of who we are. As defined in Psychology Today, “A growth mindset is simply the belief that our basic abilities can be developed and improved through dedication and hard work. It’s not so much that this belief is some kind of magic. It’s just that without a growth mindset, we don’t exert the required effort and so we remain perpetually stuck. But with a growth mindset, we can break through the stuck-ness and achieve the results we desire, whether that be at work, in our relationships, or in other aspects of our lives.” So, there’s hope! We don’t have to remain fixed on what was modeled for us, unless what was modeled for us, is something that we choose to continue.
As a teacher, I have seen both sides of this modeling or pushing away from what was taught by parents, which is part of the maturation process. So, when preparing for this blog post and with permission from a former client of mine to share a photo of her child for illustrative purposes, here’s the backstory of its inclusion.
My photography business was hired to shoot a wedding from start to finish, and I was capturing moments with the bride and the bridal party at the early stages. At one point, the flower girl and daughter of the bride wanted to try on her mother’s wedding dress. I discussed it with the bride that if we made sure to not damage anything, it would make for a wonderful memory and photo in the years to come.
So without much knowledge of what a marital relationship is like or the process involved leading up to it, this sweet girl just knew she wanted to be as happy as her mother when she gets older. Clearly, this is a wonderful moment and a good reason to want to replicate, in her own way, what her mother would soon be experiencing on this important day of their lives.
As any human, this young girl will become an adult who may resemble her mother in many ways, but she is also very likely to choose certain aspects of her life that are very different from what she once learned and thought.
As a follower of Jesus Christ, I believe this part is purposely put inside all of us to learn by what we see and hear and then choosing to hold onto or to change some or all of it. That comes from our very Creator. As the Bible tells us right from the first chapter, “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” – Genesis 1:27 NLT
Every human being that has ever lived, is living or will live is made in this way. It is why we have so much in common. At the same time, we also differ from one another in very amazing ways. Our differences are also part of God. We were never meant to be some sort of clones of one another or robots without individualism. So it stands to figure that our differences combined help us to better see who He really is and who He is in us.
Likewise, as many children grow and learn, we often feel a deep connection and even a sameness with our parental figures. We sense from early on that where we come from strongly impacts who we are. It is why it’s important to choose what we hold onto and what we choose to change from what we learned as we get older, for our beliefs and actions are huge parts of the adult versions of who we are to the world.
In 1 Corinthians 12:14-27 say, “Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, ‘I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,’ that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, ‘I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,’ would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you.’ The head can’t say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you.’ In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.”
It seems clear that we were never made to be carbon copies of any other human beings, but to treasure one another for our differences, support one another and to bring about change within ourselves to become more like the fullness of Christ, together. To this day, we are as little kids, putting on our parents’ clothes to see if they fit, while also knowing that some day they very well could.
Why not spend time understanding who God really is, whether you are already a follower of Christ or you don’t believe He even exists, and see for yourself? We are called to love one another and we can all learn more about our Creator and about who we should be.
When it comes down to it, 1 John 2:7 says it best: “Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment for you; rather it is an old one you have had from the very beginning. This old commandment—to love one another—is the same message you heard before.”
Regardless of your personal beliefs, love is something that we can all wear and wear it well.
In becoming better versions of who we are meant to be, it will impact the lives of those around us as Hebrews 10:24 says, “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.” Knowing that we learn from what we see, hear and do even as we get older, we can continue to grow into the clothing we were always meant to some day wear for ourselves. Likewise, just like we get rid of clothing that no longer fits us or we never should have worn in the first place, the right fit means everything.
As you saw the photo above, you may have noticed that while I wear this shirt to proclaim a very important statement, the shirt doesn’t completely fit exactly right. We must remember that we will always be flawed, but we still have room to change and be a part of the solutions needed in our world. To live our purpose. Just because we are not perfect and just because we may not fully have arrived to who we should be yet, doesn’t mean we can’t try.
May we always remember that we are each a piece of a beautiful mosaic, each with our tiny parts which when put together show the whole picture. Let’s value one another as members of humanity who together can do so much good for ourselves and for this world.
We have one life to live, and like it or not, our lives are all a part of history.
What part of the past will you choose to no longer “wear”?
What do you want your life to say?
In the grander scheme, what do you want the future to replicate from us?
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