I remember my first psychology class in college. On one occasion, our instructor started the class by saying, “By the time an individual reaches six months of age, their adult personality is already formed.” That statement shocked me, and the instructor may have been exaggerating, but since then I have learned that those early formative years do have a strong influence on our adult personality.
As an example, I once knew a man named George. (That’s not his real name. I am using the name George to protect his identity.) George was one of the most intelligent people I have ever met. He was a brilliant engineer, but he had a very unpleasant personality. He did not like crowds. He did not like people who “invaded” his personal space. He was very intolerant of anyone who, in his words, was incompetent. His often told me that, “Incompetent people fascinate me. They don’t even recognize their own incompetence. They think they are doing a wonderful job.” Consequently, he was very difficult to work with. But if you left him alone, he was very creative, he did a beautiful job, and he took great pride in his work.
George and I had a rough start in our working relationship. It took me a while to learn George’s limitations and how to work with him. But over time we became good friends and we worked together for many years.
I learned that George had a very difficult childhood. He was born into a home with alcoholic parents. He was forced to sleep on a screened in porch. That porch became his bedroom, both in summer and winter. At the age of sixteen, George walked away from home and never looked back. I once asked him if he had any siblings. He said “Yes”. I asked how many. He said, “The usual number.” I asked if his mother or father or any of his siblings were still alive. He said, “I have no idea.”
The prophet Jeremiah said, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. Before you were born I dedicated you.” (Jeremiah 1:4-5)
Rick Warren, the author of “The Purpose Driven Life” said, “You are not an accident. … Your birth was no mistake or mishap, and your life is no fluke of nature. Your parents may not have planned you, but God did. He was not at all surprised by your birth. In fact, he expected it.”
Each and every one of us are not that much different than my friend, George. We have all had many experiences in life. Some of those experiences have been good ones and some have been bad. Those experiences may have had a strong influence on our individual and unique adult personality, but those circumstances that we have had in life do not define who we are.
We are a child of God, who formed us in our mother’s womb. Our creator God knew us and dedicated us before we were even born. Each and every one of us is incredibly beautiful and precious in the eyes of our Heavenly Father. And every one of us has been put on this earth for a specific purpose.
Every one of us can say that, “There has never been anyone like me before and there will never be anyone exactly like me ever again. I am unique. God has equipped me with my own specific set of talents and gifts. I am beautifully and marvelously made, and I have a mission to fulfill in life that only I can do. The events in my life may have helped shape my adult personality, but I am not what the world has tried to make me. I have overcome the world. I am a child of God and I have a God-given mission in life that only I can do.”
Psychologists all agree that our adult feelings of inferiority, insecurity, unreasonable fears, anxiety and depression all begin in childhood, and our adult personality may become “severely scarred” by some of those early childhood experiences. We all experience these emotions at one time or another because this is part of the human condition. But we can overcome. After all, we are God’s children.
Remember the words of our Lord and Savior, Jesus. Just prior to His passion and death He told His disciples, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
We too can overcome and become all that God created us to be. “Every day — start your day with faith, and set your mind in the right direction, then go out expecting the favor of God.” (Joel Osteen – “Your Best Life Begins Each Morning”)