My father taught me many things. His teachings had been handed down from generation to generation. I learned what he taught whether I wanted to or not. If the circle remains unbroken, my sons will follow my example and so will their sons.
This is some of what my father taught me:
- complimenting and praising the efforts of others is not necessary.
- no effort on the part of others is good enough.
- to be critical.
- my ways, my ideas, my opinions, my understandings are superior to others' and if they are not in agreement with mine they are stupid.
- to set my expectations of others so high that they would be assured of failure and then I learned how to criticise and condemn them for failing me.
- how to belittle the efforts and decisions of others.
- how not to forgive and how not to extend grace.
My father confirmed for me what he was teaching because when I tried to broach this subject, he very soon thereafter disowned and disinherited me.
When I began to become more self-aware I believed that these were "Chinese" traits. After meeting with, hearing and observing many men I've come to believe it's a curse that afflicts many (most?) men because it has more to do with our flesh nature than our ethnicity. My wife and sons suffered under my example and I'm praying that my efforts to reverse the damage will bear fruit.
What I want to explore here is what I call "the other side of grace." I've found that because I was not "encouraged" in my youth, I never learned to "encourage." I'm uncomfortable with both encouraging and receiving encouragement. Because I did not grow up around someone who could laugh at his own mistakes, I'm uncomfortable with laughing at my own and being around someone who can. Because I did not experience grace from my father, I'm uncomfortable both extending grace and receiving grace. This can be a real hindrance for a professed Believer!
Part of "the other side of grace" is the ability to accept compliments and praise from others graciously. What I learned was how to ignore or downplay or actually contradict the compliments and praise of others. This I tried to pass off innocuously as "modesty." But, what I've come to realize is that under the guise of "modesty" I have truly been ungracious. Worse yet, I've done this in public to my own wife. She has tried to compliment me and praise my efforts to others and I have contradicted her to her face and in front of others. She then rightly felt that her opinions were devalued and was embarrassed and humiliated. I'm trying to learn to be gracious and simply say "Thank you. I appreciate that."
I don't know if this phenomenon is just me... Does this ring a bell with you?
Your ally in the pursuit of Christlikeness, Kim
PS - Part of my quest for spiritual maturity, having identified these deficiencies in my character, has been to move away from placing blame and self-pity. Instead, I'm moving forward to repair what I've broken and taking care to build-up instead of breaking down.