Family Identity

Upstairs in my file cabinet sits a folder with several lists of names. One list holds the genealogy of my family and another list holds the genealogy of my husband’s family. On the surface, you read a dry record of names. Most of the names mean very little to my husband and me, but they are representative of our family history. Our two narratives blend to become a story even more meaningful for our children. Within the list of names lies a secret to family resilience.

In a New York Times article entitled “The Stories that Bind Us,” author Bruce Feiler asked, “What is the secret sauce that holds a family together? What are the ingredients that make some families effective, resilient, and happy?” Based on research Feiler concluded, “The single most important thing you can do for your family may be the simplest of all: develop a strong family narrative.”

The research reported by Feiler confirmed that the more children know about their family’s history, the better able they are to deal with challenging situations. This confidence relates to a sense of belonging—of being part of a larger family. The research concludes that the sharing of stories about a family’s positive moments, as well as, the ability to bounce back from difficult ones, increases the odds of a family thriving for generations to come.

On the surface, Chapter 2 of Ezra is a boring list of people long dead, but it represents so much more. The names listed are a record of God’s faithfulness to his people. Hundreds of years of war, famine and captivity could not destroy the identity of God’s people. God has preserved, is preserving, and will preserve his people.

What are the stories of your family—both nuclear and extended—that you are telling? No matter the size of your family, you have a narrative that creates your family identity and will help carry you through difficult times.

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