“My parents did not go to college, why should I?” “Look at my father, he’s an alcoholic. I am sure I will become one too.” “My family has a history of depression. I will never escape it. It will always follow me.” “My mom cannot seem to keep a guy. She sleeps around. She’s always dependent. This is life and this is what I should expect.”
In college I took two entry level psych cases. There was my mandatory general intro to psych class and then for funsies I took a social psych class. They were both really interesting and I learned a lot about myself and my fellow humans. One of the ideas we discussed in both classes was the nature verse nurture argument. What this comes down to is that psychologists agree that there are two main things that shape us into the people that we are.
One thing that shapes us is nature. This is the idea that our genetics and our heritage make us into who we are. Our genetics. Our DNA determines if we are male or female, brunette or blonde, brown or blue eyed. It determines the pigmentation of our skin. You know the things that just come to you naturally? Maybe you have just always been good at math or you are great at socializing with people. Maybe you had a knack for playing sports or you started reading at an early age. Whatever it is, it is those things that you just are, not things that you were taught or had to really work at that is your nature.
The other shaping comes from nurture. This is how our parents raised us, rewarded us, and disciplined us. This is how we were taught to interact with the world. I was brought up in a very athletic and active family. I learned at an early age that sports were pretty much a necessity. My husband grew up in more of an academic household. My hubby likes sports, he even played some football and baseball and did one year of track, but he does not have the passion for competition and moving and doing the same way I do. If I go too long without being engaged in some athletic activity I go a little stir crazy. Now this nurture thing goes way beyond being athletic or not. One definition of nurture states that it is “the process of caring for and encouraging the growth or development of someone or something.” For example “the nurture of ethics and integrity.” Our ethics, what is right and what is wrong. What is normal and what is unacceptable. This is all a part of nurture and we start to learn from this at a very early age.
Now, the argument comes in when deciding how much of each goes into making us, us. Is it a 50/50 share or is it more nature than nurture or vise versa? Maybe you grew up in a family that was not your biological family. Maybe your biological parents had anger management problems, but you never knew them as you were taken in by a loving, patient family at a young age. How much of your nature will come through the nurture? This is the argument that is hard to settle. Scientists and Psychologist study adopted children and are particularly excited if they can find siblings, especially twins, which were separated at a young age and raised in different houses.
Your family will shape you. Your genetics help to mold you. But they will never define nor be you. You are so much more than your earthly family or your earthly DNA. Fortunately, we are all adopted by God and his nurturing can overcame anything that tries to shape us here on this earth. Our sinful nature can be overcome by being a part of His loving family and having his perfect nurturing wash over us. Never, ever feel that you cannot be used by God because something along the way has messed you up. Never think that just because your family has some problem, or many problems, that you are now tainted. Take Jephthah for example. His mother was a prostitute and he was shunned by his father’s family because of his origins. God saw him as his own child, one to be loved and cherished. God still used Jepthah for a great purpose. We can all be mighty warriors.
Judges 11 – NIV
“Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty warrior. His father was Gilead; his mother was a prostitute. 2 Gilead’s wife also bore him sons, and when they were grown up, they drove Jephthah away. “You are not going to get any inheritance in our family,” they said, “because you are the son of another woman.” 3 So Jephthah fled from his brothers and settled in the land of Tob, where a gang of scoundrels gathered around him and followed him.
4 Some time later, when the Ammonites were fighting against Israel,5 the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob.6 “Come,” they said, “be our commander, so we can fight the Ammonites.”
7 Jephthah said to them, “Didn’t you hate me and drive me from my father’s house? Why do you come to me now, when you’re in trouble?”
8 The elders of Gilead said to him, “Nevertheless, we are turning to you now; come with us to fight the Ammonites, and you will be head over all of us who live in Gilead.”
9 Jephthah answered, “Suppose you take me back to fight the Ammonites and the Lord gives them to me—will I really be your head?”
10 The elders of Gilead replied, “The Lord is our witness; we will certainly do as you say.” 11 So Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and commander over them. And he repeated all his words before the Lord in Mizpah.
. . . 29 Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jephthah.
. . . 32 Then Jephthah went over to fight the Ammonites, and the Lord gave them into his hands.