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Our culture: Authenticity
A couple of months ago, my youngest son turned one year old. His name is Koa David, and he is one of my life’s greatest joys. He is blonde and cuddly and has just begun to walk. He makes funny faces and gives (very wet) kisses, and I love waking up to his gurgling noises every morning.
But it wasn’t always this way.
My life felt perfect
In the weeks leading up to Koa’s birth, I began to feel anxious about the way my life was going to change. For two years, I had been hopelessly in love with my first son, Adlai. In fact, I have a vivid memory of sitting on the steps in our Victorian terrace house, about six months pregnant with Koa. I had just put Adlai down for a nap and was headed downstairs to begin work on a freelance writing project. I sat down on the step, overcome by gratitude, and prayed, “Thank you God. Thank you so much for this life that I love. Thank you that I get to stay home with my gorgeous little boy and do work that gives me life.”
But as Koa’s due date drew near, I started to feel nervous. Life was just so good, how could it get any better? And did I really want it to change?
Disappointment sets in
When Koa arrived, the birth was short and sweet – much different than my traumatic labour experience with Adlai – and for the first 24 hours I felt ecstatic that it had gone exactly as I’d hoped. But as the first few days of Koa’s life ticked by, my happiness dissipated. I felt sad. Disappointed. In the next few weeks, we learned he had colic. He spent the first four months of his life either crying or sleeping . . . and he didn’t sleep much.
It was hard. Unbelievably hard. And I felt so unprepared for it. I felt I’d been lied to and misled. And I desperately needed someone to tell me that I would someday enjoy my life again.
Sharing the pain
I’m a writer. It’s the way God uses me to communicate with His people, and it’s where He often communicates the most clearly with me. Sometimes, when I feel that I can’t pray, I sit down and start to write and He meets me there.
So in those early days, when it was hard and I felt completely out of my depth and guilty for not loving my baby enough and for not being the same mum to Adlai I had been before, I wrote. And then I did something kind of crazy and posted it all on my blog for the world to see.
That’s when the messages started coming in: emails, blog comments, facebook messages. Other mothers saying, “Me too.” Women who aren’t yet mothers saying, “Thank you for being honest about this.”
Authenticity in action
We talk a lot about the magic and beauty of being a mother, and it is mostly true. But if we only ever talk about the good, and aren’t honest about the hard, we alienate each other.
Authenticity brings us closer together. It breaks down unrealistic expectations and fear of being judged. And it leaves room for grace to redeem our deepest disappointments.
Want to know more?
To find out more, please click here to listen to Simon Holley and Paul Johnson speaking on the King's Arms culture of authenticity.