Tell me… should we accept the opinions of our parents and older role models as infallible truisms to follow without interjecting thought or question? Or should we take their advice as having sincere intent, with room to own them as our own, modified through personal interpretation and with an eye towards the immediate generation we have to raise next? Are we to follow in traditions that have lost all its original sense of meaning and purpose through blind acceptance over generations who refused to value their identity? Or should we pave the paths to our own truths and our way of doing things in light of what we think is right?
We were all raised a certain way.. but there comes a point in every person’s life where they begin to question the values that were placed as guideposts for their upbringing, wondering if they were truly veritable standards for living “right.” and in some homes and societies, this kind of thinking was taboo, and to even think of questioning anything, especially the faith in a household, is to be considered blasphemous thinking. It’s this fear of exploring what things really mean on an individual level, what truth we really feel in our soul, that leaves us resenting what we’ve been taught all along as we grew up. before we had a chance to form an opinion, we are told that the thumb is or isn’t a finger, that dirt is dirty, that all drugs are bad and that’s why they’re illegal. and we live our lives with a specific mindset we’ve been instructed to believe…
that is, until you grow up and eventually learn to form your own opinions, influenced by hearing of other values that people were brought up with. you begin to notice that they’re different from your family’s moral blueprints. slowly you realize that there are other religions, other beliefs, other opinions. you find out that some take baths later than you, some are allowed to play outside after dark, some girls can sleep over at boys’ houses, and some can watch television past midnight.. and inside you wonder why they get to do the things you can’t, and when you make a fuss, all you’re told is that you are a Smith they are not; she is a Gonzales and you are not. you are told not to question how you were raised, and you should accept our modus operandi until you’re old enough to get out of the house and start your own family.
and so, some of us just wait till the day we’re free to fly the coop to start our own lives the way we want to live it, all the while resenting the “oppression” of freedom we felt growing up. we were denied the right to question the system outright, and so the bitterness we kept inside eroded the bottle we harbored it in, sometimes erasing any hope for our curious nature to be constructive on any level. in short, we refused from ourselves our growth, and this denial has jeopardized our future to see anything positive about our past.. and so we forge our own path without clear direction, eager to take back what we never had.. and ironically, this pursuit of growth usually tends to be very destructive in the end, as we will be more confused than ever, seeing that both roads have lead to absolutely nowhere.
the good thing about this scenario is that finally, as some of us begin picking up the pieces of our broken efforts, we begin to question again. and this time, we’ll most likely be brave enough to ask the right questions. it’ll be stuff like, “why did i have so many boundaries growing up?”, or “why couldn’t I hang out with so-and-so?”, or even, “why the hell did I go out with him?”
our parents really are very proud to see us grow, but imagine how they feel when they see us developing in a way contradictory to the values we were raised with. kids are smart enough to know what pleases their parents and what doesn’t, and often they’re surprisingly good at hiding the bad stuff.. at least for a while. what we as growing individuals need to realize, though, is that what you feel your parents may think is bad may not necessarily be the case. this is a double-sided statement, because either you may be wrong, or perhaps they may be wrong — the values you have will determine who’s right to you. for example, you’re wrong to think that dropping out of high school was a good decision. however, your parents are wrong to think that you will never be as successful as they’d hoped because of that choice.
you may change for the better or for the worse. but to not change at all, i think, is the absolute worst thing you can do as a growing individual, for you will never see nor experience the need to improve yourself. even if you change in a negative light, at least there’s a hope that eventually you’ll learn your lesson and establish a need to correct yourself. but to do nothing is to eliminate that need for individual progress, and that’s not very good at all. we all need to strive to be better people.
and when it comes to your faith, you especially cannot be stagnant. when we are young, we tend to adopt the faith of our parents, believing in what they believe in. but eventually, we can imitate their faith no longer, and we need to do some growing spiritually in order to survive our ever-increasing exposure to the world. for this reason, we absolutely must test, and we absolutely must question what we’re being told is right. this is not considered blasphemy, but is a biblically encouraged method of discerning the potential truths you hear (2 Cor. 13:5, 1 Pet. 1:7, 1 John 4:1). the more questions you ask, the more answers you will find, of which you ought to compare with your beliefs. the more you test, the more true your beliefs are likely to be if they pass, and you will have a firmer faith in defending them. it’s for this reason that i believe that faith is very personal, and we need to be open with other viewpoints to really confirm the truth of our own. so compare beliefs, compare values, learn from each other, and above all, test and question everything, especially this entire note. disagree with it by all means, but at least be open.
of course this means at some point, our values will differ slightly from what we were raised with. and if that’s the case, then congratulations! you are no longer piggybacking on the faith of your parents, but are defining what makes your faith important to you, and how snugly it fits with your own, unique soul. what you believe has now grown into what you truly believe. no longer do you have the values of your parents, even though they may be exactly the same, for they now belong to you, and you alone. your journey is no longer an effortless piggyback ride, but now an intense yet satisfying walk that complements all the parts of who you are.
for me, i’ve realized that i’ve come full circle in this entire journey of growth so far, from growing up obeying my parents, wishing to rebel, rebelling, then coming back home to realize and appreciate why the boundaries where there in the first place. but i’ve grown and internalized these experiences, and i’m thankful for the lessons and their outcomes.
i hope that everyone continues to learn, and continues to never deny their need to do so. you can totally end up valuing something completely different, or wind up believing the exact same thing you did before, but the important thing is to take the journey to affirm everything you know to be true. but even then, the journey never stops, and they can be multiple. so don’t stop growing, and keep living life.