My father came from a generation when silence meant all was well. No comment from Dad, and my two brothers and I knew we were doing “good work” with our farm chores. I do, however, remember one exception. When I was about ten, the local lumber-yard owner told my dad that “those McCaskell boys sure know how to work.” Over supper, he proudly recounted the conversation.
That story stayed with me for years, and for better or worse, became part of who I was and what I valued. Without knowing it I began to tie my worth to my work; the greater the effort the greater value I believed I had with myself, others, and even God.
Writing a new story
But then Jesus gave me another story. It was a story where my value did not rest in my performance, but rather, in the good work of Jesus. I could hear the heavenly Father say “well done”, not because in my effort I deserved it, but because Jesus in His faithfulness, did. The “well done” He earned, He freely and lovingly gave to me. And slowly, but most certainly, that story is becoming part of who I am.
All of us have stories-turned-beliefs. Like a movie watched so often that we know the actors’ lines before they speak, these stories play over and over on the screen in our heads. They create an ongoing narrative triggering unwanted feelings and driving decisions we later regret.
We try to change how we feel and work harder to make better choices, but we are stuck. Even more tragically these narrative re-runs shape what we believe about God and His thoughts toward us.
Changing our thinking
Only when Jesus brings His story to our lives, replacing false narratives with a true narrative, will we be changed. It is the essence of what the Bible calls repenting, which literally means “changed thinking.”
The implications of the stories we tell ourselves multiply when we think of the children in our lives because the first stories we believe are those we learn from our parents. From these stories, our children draw their own conclusions about who God is, often regardless of what they hear in Sunday school or during family devotions.
Over the next three posts, we will explore some of the most common narratives we pass on to our children and the implications of these stories for their faith.
We will never be perfect storytellers. However, we can show our kids that Jesus is continuing to write His story on our own hearts, even as we acknowledge the wrong narratives we believe. In that act alone, we begin to tell His story
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bill McCaskell is the National Director for One Hope Canada.