Last night while I was combing my daughter’s hair after her bath, I asked, “Who are you?” And to my surprise, she repeated back to me the words that we have spoken over her since she was born. In her sweet little 2-year-old lisp, she said, “Beautiful, Worth it, Strong, and Kind.” It was so darn cute that I had to get a video of it so I asked her again, “who are you?”
Not sure where my husband and I came up with the idea to prayerfully choose 4 words to speak over each of our children, but we have been doing it since our firstborn. Our oldest will turn 4 in September and since he was born we have repeated these words over him, “You are kind, wise, brave, and true.” He knows these words by heart. Often times when I am getting ready to drop him off whether it is to go play with a friend or his class at church, I will ask him, “Who are you?” and he will repeat it back to me from memory.
I think of these 4 words that we have chosen individually for our kids as their banner over them. Spoken words, words that they can recall from memory are so very important especially as they grow older. I pray these words mold and shape them and if need be help them find their way “back” someday.
Last summer, I read a blog from one of my favorites, Ann Voskamp. She talks about an African tribe called the Himba and how when a woman finds out she is pregnant, she will go out into the wilderness and wait until she hears the song of the child to come. This is beautiful…
“There’s a certain tribe in Africa, a tribe called the Himba tribe, and when a woman of the Himba tribe knows she is pregnant, she goes out into the wilderness with a few friends and together they wait till they hear the song of the child to come.
Because they know that every heart has its own unique beat… it’s own wild purpose. And when the women attune to the song of the coming child, they sing it out loud.
And then they return to the tribe and teach this child’s unique song to everyone else.
And when the child is born, the Himba tribe gathers and sings the child’s song to him or her. When the child begins school, when the child passes through the initiation to adulthood, when the time comes to get married, at each milestone the village gathers and chants the child’s song.
To the African tribe there is one other occasion upon which the villagers sing to the child. If at any time during his or her life, the person commits sins, falls short, or loses her/his way, the individual is called to the center of the village and the people in the community form a circle around them. Then they sing their song to them.
They sing their song to them because the Himba believe that change most happens when we remember who we are — remember our identity — Whose we are… that change most happens when you are named out of the chaos, when your name is sung into the cosmos.”
For all you mothers and fathers, you are the Himba tribe, you are the ones who know the beat of your child’s heart and can speak it over them when they have forgotten their way. You know the banner over them and can repeat it over and over until it perches in their soul and they remember Who they are and Whose they are.
We are getting ready to welcome our third child in just a couple of months and already we are prayerfully waiting to hear the four words that God will give us to speak over our newest blessing.