by Jacqui Crumrine, Pastor of Worship and Arts
I never really focused on the idea of imitation as a young person, or even as a young adult. It’s not a complicated concept so its importance escaped me. Imitation is just doing what you see someone else doing. As a child, it was probably evident in the chorus of voices on the playground saying, “Monkey see, monkey do”. Even then, it was just a childhood game.
It wasn’t until I had a child that I became keenly aware that imitation was of the utmost importance. I remember the first time my baby clapped her hands, responding to my own robust round of applause…I was able to teach her things because she imitated me. I remember singing a song, only to hear her echo the words back in her own sweet voice. I also remember the harder things. It’s a difficult moment when you see your child imitate the things that you’ve done that weren’t so great. My bad eating habits became her eating habits. My tone of voice became her tone of voice. It was frustrating! I only wanted my children to imitate the good things, not the bad things! I wasn’t upset at my child; I was upset at myself.
“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God”. Ephesians 5:1-2
There’s nothing like seeing the worst parts of you being reflected back to spur you on to be a different person. If my child was going to imitate something, I wanted to be the best version of myself. I needed to change. I didn’t want to be that person that hid my faults. I didn’t want to be a hypocrite. I wanted to be transformed. So, I turned to God. I had to imitate God, and in order to do that I needed to know Him more. I had to identify myself as his dearly loved child, because this was going to be a hard process. I had to lean into His love and lean into Christ as my example. That meant, that if Christ offered Himself to God, I had to do the same. I was ready to follow Him.
Some of the areas in my life that needed to change were really hard. I didn’t know how to overcome them in my own strength. I had classified myself as a food addict for years! I was tired of the battle and didn’t know how to overcome. But God’s timing is perfect. I had all I needed to start the long journey of surrender and transformation. I kept my eyes on Him only. I wasn’t trying to imitate anyone else, just Him. I prayed a lot. I studied His word. I had people that encouraged and supported me. I had people to pick me up when I struggled. My eyes never wavered, though. I wanted to imitate Him and the only way I could do that was to know Him.
Imitation can be good when we are imitating the right things. It’s ok to have role models, mentors and leaders to guide us through the journey, but if they are Godly leaders, they will continually help you turn your eyes to Christ, not themselves. As my children grow, I still see myself reflected in them, but now I am intentional to help them see my growth areas. I don’t want them to imitate those. I do want them to see me imitating Christ and doing my best to follow Him. I pray they imitate that.