I am not speaking from a place of insecurity when I say that I didn't exactly hit the DNA jackpot.
This girl did, but obviously I'm mature enough not to hate her for it:
We all know our DNA determines every single characteristic of our physical selves. Or at least I do now (I took astronony in high school so I could get by without taking anatomy; it was really great, because we got to watch the movie "Contact" with Jodie Foster five times in one semester). Let's say I'm doing a little catch-up research on deoxyribonuc...you know what? Let's just stick with DNA.
All of us hate our ancestors for passing down the physical qualities we're insecure about (except the girl above; her ancestors probably peed liquid gold and tooted glitter). I have Myra knees. Myra was my grandmother, and she was fantastic. But her knees were janky.
More impactful than the physical characteristics that pass down from generation to generation are our mental and emotional tendencies. You know the saying "blood is thicker than water?" Well, I have a new saying: "crazy is thicker than blood, so good luck escaping it."
No offense, Mom and Dad, but there are some seriously jacked up people in our family tree. If what the smart people say is true, that the severity of our issues diminishes with each new generation, then my family members in centuries past had to be CRAY. Like, legitimately.
It's no secret that I struggle with depression. It's a disease I am passionate about shedding light on, in hopes that others might find the courage to address their own demons. That being said, I have to tell you: in my family, I am one of the lucky ones. No, seriously. The more I learn about my lineage, the more depression seems like one of the long sticks.
My great-aunt Tilley might've drawn the short stick. By the time she was in her later years, she was getting kicked out of nursing homes left and right for her crazy. I'll never forget the story of the night she wrapped her roommate's head in toilet paper.
Yes, you read that right.
The staff came rushing to her room because a smoke detector triggered, and they were worried there was a fire.
It was just great-aunt Tilley, smoking a (forbidden) cig, standing next to her roommate, whose head she had wrapped in toilet paper. Why? I think the question she'd be asking would be, "Why not?"
I come from a long line of...er...how do I say this nicely...habit people. That's what we call them in my family. Habitmen. Habitgirls. Habitpeople. Medical professionals might classify them as OCD, but we call them habitpeople so they don't feel as badly about themselves.
The habits are endless. One family member (hint: his name rhymes with fad) feels the need to completely clean the kitchen sink with a paper towel before he can start washing the dirty dishes that are piled next to it. Makes total sense, right? After he's done cleaning said sink, he takes the paper towel, folds it in half and in half again, and lays it right over the lip of the sink. It's his dish-cleaning security blanket.
I have family members that will fight to the death over the correct spelling and/or definition of a word. One time, one of these people (hint: her name rhymes with nom) used the word "dirigible" when describing a certain aircraft. Ummmm...what? Is that even a word? Yes, apparently it is. However, is it a word anyone should USE? Me thinks not.
It's easy to laugh about our quirks (and even easier to laugh about other people's quirks), but I realize that mental illness is often no laughing matter. I encourage people to talk about it, to share their struggles, and to try and find things to giggle at through the process, because often we're faced with the choice to either laugh or cry. Crying makes us look less like that girl up top because our eyes get all puffy, so I say, if for nothing else, choose laughter.
I recently learned that a family member not too far removed was once hospitalized for the mental illness he struggled with all his life. He lived most of his existence in a very dark place.
Another battled depression so dark it threatened his relationships and almost stole his joy.
Yet another deals with chronic health issues, many of which were a gift from her own mother and beyond.
Yeah, it's safe to say that most of us probably didn't hit the DNA jackpot.
We're kind of a mess, aren't we? Mankind is a broken people. When sin entered the world, so did some gnarly DNA mutations, and we haven't been the same since. It often seems like there's no light at the end of the tunnel of hopelessness, that we're bound to be caught up in the cycle of crazy forever.
Fully God and fully man. A mix of heavenly perfection and squirrely human DNA. Son of Man, son of Mary, brother to many. Savior of all mankind.
Have you ever stopped to wonder why Jesus was born of a virgin? He's God's son, after all - God didn't need a teenage girl in order to produce Jesus with skin on. He could've simply spoken, and POOF, Jesus would have appeared in the right place at the right time. Why would God go to such great lengths to bring Jesus into this broken world as a helpless baby?
I think it's because WE need Jesus to be human.
Yes, we've heard it said that God loved us so much that He sent His only Son to die a gruesome death on our behalf, effectively saving all of mankind from our sin by being our blood sacrifice and ultimately conquering death three days later. Yes, many of us buy into this truth, and we praise God for His sacrifice. Jesus was able to pay the price for you and me because He was holy and unblemished -- He was fully God.
Jesus as God took care of our redemption.
Jesus as man opens the door to an intimate relationship.
We can trust in Christ and believe God for our salvation, and we can regard God with a holy reverence. It's important that we do that.
However, the moment Jesus became man and put on our flesh, the door was opened to a relationship. A comraderie, even.
It's hard to be friends with someone when you feel like there's no way they could possibly understand you. It's hard to be vulnerable about personal sin with someone when that person has never experienced temptation. It's hard to believe someone could understand your depression or grief if they've never cried their own tears. It's hard to share your fears with someone if they've never been anxious.
A relationship is based on mutual acceptance and understanding. When we accept Jesus, He's already accepted us. And while we can't understand all of the intricacies of who God is, we can come to Him with our human frailties, knowing that, through the life and humanness of Jesus, He can understand us.
And even as He was made up of DNA from the line of David, the chief of sinners who God still referred to as a man after His heart, Jesus remained without sin. That's what separates Him from the rest of us. When we're tempted to sin, we often give in. He spent 40 days and nights in the wilderness being tempted by Satan himself, and even then He didn't succumb to temptation. He remained holy, heavenly, Godly.
But because of that olive-toned, middle-eastern skin, the skin that occasionally got sunburnt and turned black and blue when his brothers punched him a little too hard in the arm, we know that He gets us.
He really does get us.
When we're feeling discouraged because a bunch of people with broken DNA are turning the world into a hot mess (that bunch of people includes you and me), we have hope.
Hope in the Son of God, who gave Himself for us. REDEMPTION.
And hope in the Son of Man, who understands our afflictions. RELATIONSHIP.
The best news is that one day, when God conquers sin and death once and for all, we'll get to experience life without sin. Without family tendencies. Without depression or bipolar disorder or cancer or lupus. Our DNA will be perfected and will become like that of Jesus - without flaw.
Until then, I'm just counting my blessings and praising the Lord that I'm not at the point of wrapping my husband's head in toilet paper in the middle of the night.