John Mayer recorded a song that’s getting a lot of airplay these days. It instantly became one of my all-time favorites. Not only is the melody one of those haunting, relentless pieces, but also the lyrics are stark and piercing. The song is entitled, In the Blood.
I think it hit me as hard as it did because it asks a question I’ve heard people agonize over many times. Furthermore, it combines elements of life in which I have (at various stages) spent a lot of time studying.
Making up my Mind
When I was in college, my primary field was secondary education with majors in biology and social studies. Even my college professors shook their heads and chuckled when they saw the combination of those two areas of study. They’re not exactly kissing cousins (academically speaking). I guess I always had a hard time making up my mind.
I ended up in pastoral ministry—a third, seemingly unrelated field. Spirituality and biology are sometimes at odds with each other. I guess you could say my education was well rounded.
In the Blood probably hit me hard, because it asks a question that pits genetics squarely against the social sciences (not to mention spirituality). The question Mayer asks is simply this. Am I genetically doomed to be like my Mom and Dad, or can I overcome their worst traits to be something better? People have struggled with that one forever.
I can remember growing up thinking, “I’m not going to be like that.” “That” was usually something I saw in my family I didn’t like. Frankly, some of those things were character traits I worked hard over the years to avoid or eliminate. I think Mayer is asking if that kind of change is even possible.
I’m not going to attempt a plunge into all the social aspects of why we become who we are. I will say this, however. There are days I look in the mirror and see my Father, and I don’t simply mean his physical characteristics. I see the things of him that have become a part of me—some desirable, some not so much.
Overcoming the Blood
There are times I say things and hear my Mother speaking. It’s a bit eerie and somewhat uncanny. These things are ingrained, but can they be overcome if that’s our desire?
People wrestle with this all the time. If our parents were alcoholics, are we destined to be the same? If we come from a broken home, should we avoid marriage in our own lives? On and on it goes.
I certainly don’t have all the answers. One thing I have found, however, is I can be changed from the inside out. I can overcome many genetic and/or social maladies that lie within me. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans about a spiritual renewal of the mind—a transformation (Romans 12:1-2).
The answer to Mayer’s question is, “Yes, John. It can be washed out in the water—the cleansing waters of Christ Jesus. Dive in!”