As we close the Story Keeper series, it’s time to look to the future. If we’ve done our job well, our kids know their history and can steep it in grace, and they are empowered in the present to continue to process and learn and use their voice. Their future is before them, ripe with peril and possibility, challenge and opportunity, and all that comes with life. Our kids can do great things, and we can do our best to help set them up for it.
As I write this, I’m bringing to mind several lessons I’ve learned recently (and not so recently), and sharing them will, perhaps, be the best way to talk through being the Story Keeper by helping our children own their stories into the future. Here are a few ideas:
- Teach them what they can and cannot control. Our kids are going to get hurt in life. One of the best things I ever heard about this came from Dr. Charles Ware. Leader of Crossroads Bible College, and an expert in multiethnic ministry, Dr. Ware shared some of his life experiences as a black man growing up in the 20th century. The hurtful experiences this man has endured made me ill. Yet, he decided when he gave his life to Christ to live out his faith in this way: if the Bible was true, and he was truly a son of God, then no matter what any man did or said to him, he would refuse to conduct himself in a way unbecoming of that position in Christ. In short, he would act like a son of God, not matter what. Our kids won’t be able to control what others think or do; the only thing they can control is their own response. This teaching has empowered me in so many ways.
- Teach them the gospel. A more recent lesson came as my husband and I attended the most recent Together For Adoption national conference. Dr. Toney Parks shared a session for white parents raising black sons. He shared that we need to prepare our kids for a world that will view them based on their skin color…not so they’ll look for it, but so that they’ll be safe and ready to respond in a way that honors God. My hearts aches beyond imagination at the thought of my son experiencing racism, even though we as a family already have. Dr. Parks, however, reminded us of something critical. Every hurt…every injustice…every painful experience our children will ever experience has already been taken care of by Jesus Christ at the cross. He knows. He cares. He has taken it on Himself. This gives our children the ability to heal. It also gives them the ability to forgive. This doesn’t mean life won’t hurt. It means our kids can lift their eyes and be made whole by the cross.
- Teach them to use the voice that you’ve taught them to claim. Our kids don’t need to broadcast their stories; boundaries are okay. We’ve established that. However, the bible teaches that God brings us through things, comforting us so that we can comfort others (2 Cor. 1:4); there will be times in their lives when their stories can be used to help communicate grace and redemption in the lives of others. They need to do that with confidence. It’s so important to teach our kids that as long as they’re within God’s will, they can do anything. Teach them to give to a dying world. Teach them to exercise their right to vote. Teach them to think through issues like poverty and others in a deep way, and to figure out what they can do to be a force for good for those around them.
As our kids process their stories and grow and create a life such that their history becomes part of a larger narrative that they create, their possibilities are unlimited. The best thing we can do to be the Story Keeper into the future? Speak life and truth and value and worth into and over our kids today, tomorrow, and in all the days to come. They never stop needing it. Then they, too, will become the Story Keepers.