Storytelling is a huge part of our family testimony. Our two boys, (ages 6 & 8), are our second and third born children. Heather Faith our firstborn, and their big sister, lived for 13 short, but precious months in our arms. Our boys only know their sister through our stories, her pictures, videos, outfits, and toys we have tucked away. We chose not to hide behind the pain, but to share all our story with our boys. The result has been that they feel as if they knew their sister. In fact, most people think our daughter was middle or last to be born because of the way our boys speak of their beloved sister. Choosing to tell all our story to our boys has aided in healing my heart more than I ever thought possible.
Our storytelling days began as I rocked our boys to sleep as newborns. Each year they grew, they learned to give themselves permission to grieve and ask insightful questions far above their maturity. Through drawing pictures and journaling they began to live life with a different awareness and understanding.
Sharing our story over and over and over again was taxing, raw, and left us vulnerable to many emotions. But one day, by God’s grace, it got easier. One day it became more natural. Looking back, I know Jesus was gently supporting us each step forward through our story, and He healed us.
God gives us each a story to share, not to tuck away. As parents, we can model for our children what it means to share our life experiences and how we have seen God at work through even the most painful times as well as how to listen when someone else shares with us.
My kids come home with countless questions these days, such as, “Why is that man begging on the side of the road for money?” My response, “I don’t know his story. What do you think he needs right now?” Or the kid at school, who is relentless in their unkind actions, “Boys, we do not know their story. How can we plant a seed of kindness in their life at school tomorrow?” Before we judge, avoid, ignore, and walk away from God’s greatest and most loved creations, just take a moment to remember each person has a story. Teach your child that God made each person, just as He made us. At a young age, my boys look at others who may be difficult, unkind, or even a bully at school, and they can look past their actions to collect all the information about their stories. By asking questions, we teach our children how to listen, learn, and extend the grace God extends toward us to others.
I encourage you, share your story with your children, and listen WELL to the stories of others. It’s our responsibility as parents to raise children with compassionate hearts that extend to great depths, and to return people back to the community of God.