Okay, here’s the scoop: I’m sitting in my in-laws home in Michigan watching our kids and their cousins, and I’d swear we were the parents of five kids not four. What do I mean? Simply this – my brother-in-laws son Micah could pass for our daughter Breanna’s twin brother! They act alike, look alike, respond alike…they are a lot alike! A LOT! Both have a bent towards the artistic and creative, both play multiple instruments, and both like to sing, to name a few similarities. It was far more than just the physical traits; the similarities were noticeable even below the surface (way below the surface).
As I was watching them talk and laugh, I was overwhelmed, in both good and not-so-good ways. Genes seem to pass on more than color, height, personality, and structure. They seem to pass on tendencies. Bents. Preferences. Subconscious ways and manners. I may not be scientifically correct or biologically accurate, but what I saw in Breanna and Micah was uncanny. It was cool to see our “family tree” show up like that. Oh, the joy of gene power!
Sure, I know there is the environmental factor when it comes to immediate families (i.e., we pick up the habits of others because we’re with them a lot), but these two spend very little time together in the course of a year. Yet, they were strikingly connected. Genetically twin-like in way more ways than the physical. I remember nudging Julie while they were interacting, and we both just chuckled. Actually, we laughed. Then we raised our eyebrows, knowing exactly what the other meant: we’ve passed on some other things, too! Yikes!
That was the not-so-cool second when we both felt the weight of gene power. I may not can explain it, and I may not like it all the time, but my good and not-so-good traits, seen and unseen tendencies, inner and outer responses, well, there’s a rope tied to them, and one end is somehow strapped to my kids. Maybe not forever and maybe not too tightly. But far more than the physical is being passed on, know what I mean? Wow! That’s a load to wrap your arms around.
Sometimes there’s things I don’t want to pass on. Ever felt like that? When you know how much you struggle, how quick you are to run the wrong way, how prone you are to evil, how far you went before God rescued you…whew, I don’t want to pass on those appetites. Tendencies. Habits.
Yet, I do want to pass on so much. The heritage of my and Julie’s parents. The legacy of God’s work throughout generations. Our passion for family and God’s kingdom. Our love for one another and the value of a forever commitment. I want those things to keep going and going and going and going. Like an Energizer Bunny gene trait that never stops.
Can I have one (the good) without the other (the not-so-good)? Pleeaasseee? For some reason I don’t think gene power discriminates or dissects; it just distributes. My job, I guess, is to help my kids know how to handle that rope. When to cut it, when to hold on, when to leave a little slack.
But even gene power has some irony, for one day one of my kids will see one of their kids acting like their grandparents, and they’ll have the same thought — “That’s uncanny.” And when that happens, Julie and I will laugh again. Only this time louder.