We all need to know where we’ve come from – how we came into the world – what it was like.
Knowing the story of our beginning helps us to know who we are.
I’ve known for years that I was a 30-hour labour for my mother, that her and my dad got to the point where they began to wonder if I was ever coming. But at their lowest ebb, they spotted a passage in a book they’d been reading with the quote :
‘God’s delays are not God’s denials’
which encouraged them greatly. Shortly afterwards, the sun rose and I was born.
That phrase seems to have a played a recurring theme in my life – that God’s delays are not God’s denials. I’ve had to hang on tightly to it when, delivering my children, some of them took ages to appear, labour was niggling on and off and the frustration and tiredness were weighing heavily on my heart and body.
There is something lovely about sharing these stories with our children.
Each time our kids hear how they came into the world, how tiny, loved and cherished they were, how things changed with their presence and what a difference they made to your life, to those people around them – it reinforces their sense of value and increases their confidence of their place, both in your heart and the wider world.
So why not take an opportunity this Advent, to cuddle up with your children, individually telling each of them the story of their birth?
Don’t leave out the important bits.
Don’t hold back from telling them of the difficult moments, how you felt, how long it took, challenges and elations in equal measure.
Obviously consider the age and be mindful of the feelings of each child, using appropriate language and level of detail – but if it was a difficult labour don’t pretend it wasn’t. Focus on your joy when they appeared, how perhaps you were worried about the birth, or being a parent, but how your feelings developed when they arrived.
And if you were in the difficult position of having had a traumatic experience, or where you didn’t instantly feel that dramatic rush of love – share how you felt unsure, that you desperately wanted to feel happy and that you felt confused by your emotions at first – but focus on how, as you got to know them, they melted your heart.
There is something incredibly affirming about sharing these stories with our children.
It anchors them in time and space, but it also strengthens the bond between them and us, showing them how our stories are woven together – a cord lengthened and strengthened with each new addition, reaching back throughout history.
It teaches the power of story, the importance of knowing ours and of owning it, as we continue to discover our God-given calling.
I encourage you to lean into the intimacy and vulnerability of sharing these stories with your kids, to repeat them often, and to have the pleasure of reinforcing your love for them.