Here in the Syracuse area it is not uncommon to come across people you know. This is especially true around Christmas time when everyone and their mother is shopping. The mall is a common-ground locale where you see people you haven’t seen in awhile or should have called back and didn’t. It’s always funny when you see someone, reminisce, and tell them to tell so-and-so hello for you. Then as you walk away you realize you are walking in the same direction to the same store. I always get a kick out of that. Anyhow.
There have been multiple times when I have run into someone that either I knew and they didn’t necessarily remember me or there was someone with them that didn’t know me. I can’t even recall how many times I have introduced myself or been introduced by someone else and then the recognition comes. It typically doesn’t come with the first name, Scott, but is usually followed after my last name, Emery. “Oh yeah, you’re Pastor Emery’s son.” And there you have it. Emery is the signal in people’s recollection of not who I am exactly, but rather, who my dad is. He has done a wedding, funeral, counseling, coffee, or some other life moment that recalls a time when he influenced them.Entering into others’ life moments, especially those of transition (wedding, funeral, birth, etc.), are the times when our lives meld with others.
Being identified with one’s father, and by extension one’s family, is something that is ancient. The ancient Hebrews were patrilineal in that they traced their lines through their fathers. When you read Old and New Testament passages, which list the typically “boring” and oft-skipped over genealogies, you are reading the heritages of families. Fathers, sons, and grandsons were all located and remembered by the acts, beliefs, and traditions of their forebears. Being part of a particular family carried with it the honor, respect, or, conversely, infamy and disgrace.
Besides the family line carrying forth the family name, having kids is a prime way of ensuring the future has your good looks. This never really occurred to me until we had our daughter. Although she is still little, a lot of those who have seen her says she looks like me. This goes to show that regardless of the sex, my good looks surpass all gender characterizations (kidding).
As a father I have also begun to see how my child imitates my wife and I. She definitely has her own personality, but she copies us in many ways. The limited vocabulary she has sounds like ours. Her tone, hand-motions, and intent, although not known to her, is a mimicry of us. This can be scary when we step back and realize that we have done or said something that isn’t very positive. However, it can also be great. This is very evident when we see her grab her baby doll and comfort it, feed it, cuddle it and do the things we do with her. The mimicry then becomes a joy in that we get a small glimpse into how she seems to perceive us. Again, she doesn’t realize it, but she is doing to her “child” what we do with her, our child.
And isn’t this the beautiful fright of parenthood? Every person has their own personality and characteristics, faults and brightspots, and yet there is something in the way we love and don’t love that affects us. Our daughter copies both of these in us and it is evident.
Thankfully, we have the perfect Father whom we can mimic and by doing so know that we are blessing others. As John said, “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God.” (3 John 1:11). He also said, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8). Notice the family language of being “born of God” results in knowing God and loving others. God loves us and therefore we can love others.
I guess the question that comes to mind is who are you mimicking? Just as my daughter mimics us, I mimicked my parents. We all mimic someone or something. Do you love well so that those around you do the same thing? I pray you do.