A 15-Day Christmas Devotional for an Untraditional Year

Dr. Jeffrey Olrick

Growing Connected

Turning our hearts this season

He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers.

—Malachi 4:6

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.

—Isaiah 9:6

The moment our first child came into the world felt like a miracle. After months of looking at sonogram pictures, trying to imagine exactly who this little person was, to experience the utter delight of seeing my living, breathing son was a feeling beyond words.

It was no different for each of my two boys who followed. Unlike my wife, whose physical body had already been connected to our little ones through pregnancy, these moments of birth offered me an invitation to hold and touch my boys and enter into the life-altering change that comes from being in an intimate, connected relationship with someone.

When I was born, my father, like his father before him, received the news of my arrival in a hospital waiting room. I trust that it was an event he treasured in his heart. Sadly for us both though, my dad did not perceive my birth as an invitation to enter into my life and grow with me into adulthood. For him, moments to mark the passage of time came along now and then, but these were wistful interactions with little to connect one event to another. I don’t have any sense that my life changed my father in any meaningful way, though his absence certainly shaped mine.

This year, my firstborn turned seventeen. Unlike my father, I’ve made a conscious choice to be a connected part of his life. I have participated in my son’s unfolding into a young man. By accepting the invitation at his birth to join into his life, I have had to die to a few things. But I have gained much more. As surely as I have shaped who he is and is still becoming, he has changed me.

As you anticipate the joy of Jesus being born into the world, I pray that you are able to access all of the mystery and delight that such an event ought to stir in you. May you also contemplate the invitation of Jesus’ birth: an invitation to be more than bystanders, but rather to plunge headlong into a life of connection. May it lead you on a journey where you find your heart being turned to your children and their hearts turned to you.

It is God’s desire that our families live in wholeness. Christ’s presence in our relationships is what brings that promise to life.

Guided Reflection

  1. How has being in relationship with your child changed you?
  2. Do you feel like the hearts of your family are “turned toward” each other, like God’s promise in Malachi? If not, are there any choices you could make that would turn your own heart to your child today?

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