Looking at the patterns of identity we’ve learned from our father
Most often, when we define ourselves, we think of our material successes as if our inherent worth is measured by the amount of money we have. If we find our identity in many external things – what we own, what people think of us, who we aspire to be like – then our true identity is stolen from us.
Our attitude to such things usually comes from our father, who was typically the primary breadwinner. We mainly got our identity from him; the way he saw us became the way we see ourselves. We picked up his patterns of relating to money when we were very young and impressionable.
We sometimes allow feelings to dictate the choices we make, so end up repeating familiar patterns, like those of our father. Allowing ‘good’ or ‘bad’ feelings to dictate means we cut down the choices we make in life. The question we need to ask is, ‘Do we really want to change, to live more fully and in a more integrated way?’ It will take moving through new feelings that are not familiar to us, which will feel uncomfortable at first.
How do we make choices? Do we shut off the different, the novel, because it’s not ‘our style’? Or do we welcome the risk of moving into uncharted spaces? If we’re just repeating our pattern, what we say or do, we are usually in a stuck pattern and not open to all that we could be and all that life has to offer us.
When we imagine expressing a deep inner desire to our father, we can still hear his familiar voice telling us how he’d approach this. Although it feels like good advice, this pattern within limits our freedom to choose
The world we live in today is totally different to the one our parents grew up in and had to cope with. To use a race analogy, we need to take their baton and run our own race. We’re being invited to ‘Go!’ but our feelings and lack of self-trust pull us back. Our real self calls us on, but we choose to disregard it and to stay on the block.
When God made us, He placed in us deep desires that only we can attain, things that energise and enliven us. He understands us far deeper than our earthly fathers ever could and wants to give us the desires of our hearts. He sees what lights us up. He wants us to be fully alive, free to risk more and to reach heights that we (and our parents) never thought possible.