When my eldest daughter was expecting her second child, she wrote me a letter outlining the things she appreciated about me. It brought tears to my eyes and a flood of memories. From a little girl to a wife and mom, she has made me proud. As I think of this letter often, one particular sentence stays with me:
“You taught your kids how to work hard, think for themselves, learn on their own, and to rethink societal norms and why we do what we do.”
From Checklists to Understanding
I was young, naive, and way too trusting when I began having children at twenty. I wasn’t a Christian and had a turbulent childhood. I desperately wanted to give my children something different. This caused my type-A personality to end up in legalistic churches with checklists of approval.
Shortly after coming to know the Lord, I began diving into Scripture with a thirst to know more about a God who loved me. I read the Old and New Testaments slowly and journaled each story, always looking for direction on how I should behave, react, and be. I wanted to be David, Abigail, Ruth, Mary, Noah, Joseph, and Paul.
This type of approach to studying the Scriptures went well with both my personality and legalistic teachings. I was looking for the perfect checklist.
Fast forward many years and several painful experiences later, I read Scripture from a different perspective. I don’t desire to be a David, but rather, when I feel I’m going through something unjust, I remember that God designed a unique experience for David, and was faithful to provide the strength and grace to walk through. God has a unique experience designed for me, and He has provided the grace to endure.
As I re-read each Bible story, it becomes clear that these stories are the exceptions in life. It’s not an everyday occurrence to see the Red Sea parted, be hunted by a desperate king, to be sold into slavery by your brothers, or to become pregnant while remaining a virgin. God has given us these stories to remind us that He is sovereign and that He is creating our own stories, our own exceptions in life, but that He is still in control and using these situations in our life for His glory.
Little did I realize, until I read my daughter’s letter, that my daily discoveries of who God is would translate into lessons for my children. They learned how to stop and think through many aspects of each story. I would prompt them with questions that taught them to wonder why we do what we do. I didn’t watch the clock to move onto math when a great discussion presented itself. We talked Bible stories, history stories, and current events for hours.
Stories, whether biblical or on the local news, are the exceptions in life. The unusual things that happen are outside the norm, and these are the things we should stop and take note of. They are where we have an opportunity to teach our children to think and discover more about our loving God.