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No Longer a Victim

Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valor, and he was the son of a harlot…

Judges 11:1 KJV

Within the world of psychology there is an age-old debate regarding the place that nature plays in our development as human beings versus the impact that proper nurturing has in the crucial stages in our lives. In other words, are we the product of our heredity or does our early childhood experiences and circumstances throughout life dictate our journey? Unfortunately, it is often presented as an either-or proposition, and I think that’s unfortunate. I do believe both have impact, but there is a third crucial element of the equation that these heady folks don’t factor into their reckoning. Our choices in life ultimately decide our destiny.

There is little doubt that our ancestors are indelibly etched into our DNA. We can easily see our face in the face of our great grandfather or grandmother. Those old pictures are like looking into a mirror. The similarities go far beyond appearances. The internal grit and gristle of our lives have been passed down to us from the people who went before us in our bloodline. One of my ancestors was a Puritan preacher who, with his own hands, built a church in the wilderness of Connecticut in the 1600s. I think of that when I’m working on my ‘projects’ at the church. Maybe not the same thing but close enough to make me smile.

It is also undeniable that what we encounter in life changes us. Whether you were raised in a home that resembled the Little House on the Prairie or Nightmare on Elm Street, either experience impacted you. You don’t get kicked in the mouth without losing a few teeth nor do you have a warm blanket wrapped around you without feeling comforted.

Man’s ability to choose his attitude and his path determines his destiny. We were not created by God to be subservient to the circumstances of life nor our DNA. Neither the blows of life nor family lines are the deciding factor in our lives because we are responsible for neither. We are responsible for the choices we make.

In the Old Testament there was a Judge in Israel by the name of Jephthah. His mother was a prostitute and his brothers, who happened to have been born legitimately, kicked him out of the house for the shame he brought them. Talk about a great start in life. And yet, Jephthah refused to be defined by those two early blows. He rose to be a mighty Judge of God’s people ultimately delivering them from their enemies.

Never allow people or circumstances to define you. The voices of the critics’ sound like a mighty roar in comparison to the quiet voice of God. That horrible thing that happened years ago looms large in our minds. We can rise above both by setting our eyes on the God who can do great things in our lives. Never forget your past but never allow it to define you. Our relationship with Jesus Christ defines us.


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