I love those ads for Ancestry.com where people find out the specifics of their heritage. It’s fascinating how we’re often not what we thought we were.
Being in Prague, Czech Republic for a week gave me a little insight into my ancestry.
Mom is a full-blooded Czech. Which makes me half Czech. On Dad’s side, I’m English/Irish and Native American.
I’d not thought of it much before. I knew Mom’s parents immigrated from the former Czechoslovakia. Dad’s grandmother was from the Cherokee nation. It all felt rather distant from who I am now.
Until last week. I got to be in the country where my grandparents grew up and began their family.
The beautiful historical buildings in Prague reflect a challenging history of differences of opinion. Much had to do with religious preference. Catholics didn’t like the Protestants, and the Protestants just wanted to be left alone. Both sides had followers who were tortured or burned at the stake for beliefs others didn’t agree with.
In this last century, the area was invaded and occupied by the Nazis beginning in 1939. Many of their landmarks stayed in tact in spite of the bombing at the end of the war. They had three years of independence. Then they were occupied by the Soviet Union.
Until the wall fell in 1989.
Three years later, the Velvet Revolution happened, when the country split with no guns being fired. Politicians did the fighting.
This is a people who’ve withstood a lot of turmoil, often unwanted leaders. And they’ve kept their pride. Their sense of strength and determination.
I saw that in my Grandmother. In Mom. An unwillingness not to be pushed around. Not to agree just because everyone else is doing something. A tenacity to be who they were. Strong.
I get where my stubborn stick-to-itiveness comes from.
A beautiful country with deep pain. Not easy to get to know.
I stood in the middle of Old Town Square with my sister and friends. Taking it in. It was part of who I am. Heritage. Ancestors.
But I found I was nothing like these people. Their history has led them to struggle with trusting others. What they’ve been through makes it difficult to believe in God. Or even want to talk about Him. They doubt first. They wouldn’t be seen as a warm, inviting people.
Struggles and challenges have molded them, given them a tough veneer. I’ve had the benefit of people I trust in my life. Safe people. People who had my back and believed in me.
So who am I? Really?
I’ve a heritage that reflects the impact of those who’ve gone before me. DNA that shows I’m from different people groups. Stories that mirror the difficulties and joys of those who are no longer here.
Who I really am is a child of God. Made in His image, as all people are, I have the opportunity to reflect Him. His glory.
The rest? My heritage adds color, cohesiveness and richness to who I am. It’s my story, what’s unique to me.
We all have stories.
Our identities? That says more about our character, our integrity. What we’ve done with our choices. Decisions.
I’m part Czech, part Native American, part English/Irish.
What’s in your DNA?
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