Birth order can’t limit us

Recently I visited a family with two young children. The older child was assertive, confident, and had the parents’ constant attention; the younger one was comparatively mellow and content to observe what was going on. There was joking about who would “rule the roost” in coming years and discussion of the benefits and setbacks of being a “first child” or a “second child.”

It got me thinking about a topic that I, too, had wrestled with when my children were young. Are our lives and experiences predetermined by the order in which we’re born? Isn’t our heritage about more than that?

If we identify as mortals living in a mortal world, then we are at the mercy of limiting material theories about what our experience may be like. But Christian Science offers a different understanding of our true identity, of what makes us who we are. It empowers us to reject that restrictive view of creation, and to identify ourselves as spiritual ideas created by God, the divine Mind. As such, the identity and potential of each of us is unique, unlimited, immortal, and sustained entirely by God, our divine Father-Mother.

The identity and potential of each of us is unique, unlimited, immortal, and sustained entirely by God, our divine Father-Mother.

In the Bible, we read that God created man—a term that includes everyone—in His image, after His likeness (see Genesis 1:26). And Isaiah refers to being “called by my [that is, God’s] name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him” (Isaiah 43:7).

Because divine Mind has created each of us, the most formative relationship is between God and us. We each have our own precious correlation with the Divine. Our individual nature is the reflection of God’s nature, individual in an infinite number of ways. Mary Baker Eddy writes in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, “The one Ego, the one Mind or Spirit called God, is infinite individuality, which supplies all form and comeliness and which reflects reality and divinity in individual spiritual man and things” (p. 281).

As we let this view of man as spiritual—eternally reflecting the goodness and intelligence of our divine creator—take precedence in our thought, limiting perspectives fall away, and we better demonstrate our innate potential—and help others demonstrate theirs, too.

There’s a Bible story of a man named David and his brothers that’s an interesting case study in birth order. David was the youngest of eight sons and spent his days shepherding the family’s flocks; his three oldest brothers fought in King Saul’s army. Yet, though he was the youngest and sometimes underestimated, David knew God was with him and expressed spiritual qualities such as trust, courage, and wisdom so fully that he found success in unexpected ways.

For instance, with skills developed while caring for the flocks, he prevailed over a fierce warrior named Goliath who was threatening slaughter and destruction. Later, David went on to become a great king and served Israel valiantly for many years.

When my children were small, notions predicting personality development based on birth order were popular. Middle children, according to the theories of the day, had a harder go in life. Unfortunately, I became a little too interested in all this, and when my third child was born, I worried that my second, now “middle,” child was doomed in some way. I felt awful.

Seeking solace and a conviction that this new little member of the family could bring only goodness and joy to all of us, I prayed. My prayers affirmed that all of God’s children are complete and whole in their own right, a status that is forever upheld by our heavenly Father-Mother.

I was healed of all fear and superstition about my children’s birth order.

I also visited a friend who had taught me a lot about God and God’s nature. This individual had had a very full life in many different spheres and capacities. I poured out my sad story about having a “middle child” and wondered what to think about all that. He paused, looked straight at me, and replied, “I’m a middle child.”

We both laughed, and I was healed of all fear and superstition about my children’s birth order. I knew that each of them had a unique God-ordained purpose that was determined by God, divine Love, alone. And so it has proved in the years since.

We can break free from mortal theories that would dominate or limit us, when we identify as the spiritual sons and daughters of divine Mind—made, maintained, and blessed by divine Spirit alone.

Originally published in The Christian Science Monitor’s Christian Science Perspective column April 12, 2023.

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