How do normal people do this parenting thing? I asked myself as I held my newborn son Caleb in the hospital while three-year-old Josh leaned into me.
I was now mom of two boys and felt the weight of it. I grew up in a broken home and wanted to leave a legacy of faith for my children. But how did one do that? For a while, I thought it meant erasing my past. I didn’t understand that Jesus wanted me to live out my faith by sharing the whole truth of my journey, not just the mountaintop victories.
My boys had never heard the real stories of how I grew up until this year, when I finished writing the manuscript to my new book, Sweet Like Jasmine. I never wanted them to know the stories that once made me feel broken or weird. I wanted them to have a clean slate and thought it best to leave the past in the past. I thought maybe after they’d grow up and become parents that I might tell them my stories.
But God put it on my heart to write my new book about finding my true worth, and I couldn’t have my stories out in the world without my own children hearing them from me.
I wasn’t sure if my sons, now fifteen and twelve, were ready to hear the stories of my life when I was a little girl and a young woman instead of just as their mom. But my therapist said, “Your sons have grown up in a loving home, and you’ve nurtured them with love. When you share the brokenness and the beauty of how you see God in those stories, they will trust you even more. You will deepen your relationship with your boys. They will be empowered in their faith. You will break the cycle of shame and leave them a new legacy of faith with your stories!”
So after I wrote each chapter, I sat on the living room floor and read it to them at night. I’d cry a river of tears because the little girl in me was sharing her stories with her sons. My voice shook, but with the words written on paper, I felt brave and safe enough to read the story of how I was born to a mail-order bride and a busboy who left me when I was seven.
After I finished reading to them, I was so afraid my sons would be silent or feel weird or awkward knowing their mom’s strange stories. Would they be embarrassed? What would they think of me?
As I dreaded the worst, Josh said, “Wow, Mom! I can’t believe that happened to you. That’s amazing! God is so amazing!”
Caleb cheered, “Mom! You’re such a great writer! Your story is like a movie! I can picture it like I’m there with you!”
“I’m so proud of you for being honest and brave!” Josh said, getting up from the sofa to wrap me a big bear hug.
Caleb came over to hug me too. “Yeah, Mom! God’s going to use you to bless a lot of people!”
As we sat together, right there on the living room floor, I cried tears of joy, becoming more whole and healed. And that moment became holy ground.
God deepened my faith through that experience, and I sensed Him asking me, “Do you really trust Me? How can you show your children I’ll love them in life’s valleys if you only talk about your strengths and leave out how I walked you through the valleys?”
It takes faith to share our stories, doesn’t it? We don’t want our kids to be ashamed of the mistakes we made. We’re afraid to lose our credibility if they see our flaws. But it’s actually the opposite. God says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
The fire you walked through, the story you lived through, and the grace that carried you may be the very encouragement someone needs. And sharing your story may be the most powerful act of faith God is calling you to take.
We can take our place among the cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 11 and share our stories of faith with our children and those outside of our families! Maybe your story is like Abraham who lived in tents, never feeling quite at home. Or are you like Enoch, simply walking by faith through your hardships? Maybe you’re like Noah who survived the floods of life and loss, obeying God’s call to build something counter-cultural and new.
Even though we work to shield our children from our own pain, what they really need to see is how God loved us in our pain. That way, they can learn to take their pains, their weaknesses, and their brokenness to Jesus.
The day I shared my story with my sons, I grew in faith and gained my children’s trust in a new way. It turns out the legacy of faith we pass down is our stories. We don’t have to live perfect lives to have a beautiful or meaningful legacy. We just need to share what God has done in our lives with those around us because our stories matter. And in turn, the truth and beauty of God’s faithfulness is seen throughout the generations.
What an amazing God we really have!
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