Monday, May 13, 2013

Childhood Messages Reinterpreted

By Alexandra Kuykendall

We sat in a haphazard circle, nothing perfect about it, about us. Some nursing babies, others relieved we were child-free for a few hours. We were calling it "MOPS Extra," a time for us to gather outside of our regular MOPS meetings and talk. Because we all wanted to talk and connect. Talk about where we'd been, how we were surviving today and who we hoped to be if able to make it through the sleep deprivation that took over so many of us.

The question for the morning stimulated conversation: Where were you in the birth order in your family and do you think that has impacted who you are today? The answers came pouring out, but with them so much more than the position of siblings. We examined who took on more responsibility, how personality is formed, the birth order of our own parents and of our children. The question of where do I fit in this world in relation to the imperfect people around me? And how did I first learn to understand that?

And then Angie said it. That comment that would follow me home and crash through my brain over and over like ocean waves. With a baby perched on her hip she said, "My therapist told me once that children are great observers and terrible interpreters." She kept going, "I guess it's our job as adults to go back and re-interpret all those observations."

What perfect sense that made to me. We aren't equipped as children to understand the adult things happening around us. It's not until we've matured and lived some life, and hopefully walked some years with the holy, that we can comb through our memories and better understand their significance in our journeys. And to understand how they've shaped us into who we are today.

It gives new meaning to the 11th verse from 1 Corinthians 13, "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways." I now have the responsibility to re-examine my childhood and the messages it offered me from my grown woman state. For the verse that follows is, "For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known." Then. When "completeness comes" as Paul says in verse 11, I will know fully my value in God's love.

When we are in the full glory of Jesus we will understand our full value. Until then we must sit in circles and reflect back to each other who God says we are. That we are indeed defined by love.

Alexandra Kuykendall is the author of The Artist's Daughter: A Memoir, where she examines the questions of identity, loving and being loved through her life journey as a child of a world-traveling single mom and an absent painter father. Alexandra and her husband Derek have four daughters. Connect with her at


  1. Beautiful encouragement tied to I Corin. 1:13. Like God often does, this is a second helping from the same bowl today as I have been reading about the influence of parents, their imprint on our lives. There's a little twist here in your great encouragement. God's way of adding to the flavor to His offering. Loved this, love Him.

    1. Dea,

      I'm so glad they were words from "the same bowl". Humbled as always that the Holy Spirit moves in such detailed ways and uses us along the way.


  2. Alexandra,
    I have purchased your book and look forward to reading it. Since my father's passing I have realized how true your statement is that as children we observe, but we can't interpret what we have observed. My father's love language was very different than mine (words). It is been only recently that I have begun to see that he
    loved me,but in a very different way that I couldn't interpret as a child. Thank you for your Godly insights!