99.9 % Just Like You
by Angela Breidenbach
In this world, we mere humans love the concrete. We love being able to label ourselves and others to raise or lower opinion. We love being able to say we’re “pure” Irish or Swedish or African. But that’s not the truth, is it? In order for even one of us to be born, two people are involved. Those people share DNA with us that inherited DNA from those before them. People mingled and traveled all through history. People groups were conquered, morphed, and blended into new nations. There is no one that is “pure” anything. Everyone is a mixture of DNA that has been combined through history to create individuals that God sees as very unique and special. Any human being is 99.9% the same as any other human being on the planet regardless of race.
Beware the sense of inappropriate pride intended to build yourself up off ancestral lineage. As an example, I’ve discovered I’m descended from many kings, queens, and a stunning array of nobility. I’m also descended from peasants, poor immigrants, and quite a few scallawags as well as the illegitimate sons and daughters of some of those same noble families. I learned those noble names are both lauded and hated, depending on which side of certain borders their names are mentioned. More than a few times, those nobles were on opposite sides of major wars and religions fighting one another. Looking at history, especially the dark ages, those nobles may have been involved in oppression against the very people they ruled simply because that was the law of the land. In one particular line, the first lord who fought alongside a Scottish king founded a noble clan that later killed a huge amount of another of my ancestral lines trying to stamp out freedom of faith. So, were they truly heroic? Again, which side of the border are you on? I had ancestors on just about every side of those medieval wars. You know what I learned? That man is sinful and wants power. A hero to one people group may be a villain to another.
Some people are finding out their DNA proves an opposite truth. When discovering something unexpected, first take it to prayer. Ask respectfully because the story really belongs to the other person. It’s theirs to share, or not. That story is not something to demand. Be the person who chooses to listen first, holding emotions in check, searching for a way to see through their eyes. Recognize that whether you agree with someone else’s choice, God knew you would exist. God has a plan for you and the loved one. Avoid labeling people as “good” or “bad” based on a choice because that perception may be in error, depending on which side of the situation, just like those ancient wars. The situation may not be simple either. Problems and hurts that led to a specific outcome are usually multifaceted. Avoid simplifying what you may not fully know for a label.
In all the interest in recent DNA testing, what we forget more than anything else is that we are made in the image of God. God created us in His image to belong to Him, to share His love, to spread the Good News about a real relationship. Our uniqueness is part of God’s plan to reach out to other human beings and bring them into the family and love of God for eternity.
Learning we are descended from a people or place is interesting. But using that to separate ourselves by race, religion, or any other sense of being “special” is not right. Using knowledge to enrich the lives around us is a wonderful way to honor our ancestral lineage. Preserve their stories, history, and inspiring journeys. Whatever you learn, remember that faulty human beings did the best they could with what they had at the time—and they are 99.9% just like you.
Angela Breidenbach (http://AngelaBreidenbach.com) is an author, speaker, and genealogist who loves sharing true history in her novels. Find Angela on social media @AngBreidenbach