Practicing Parents

The Questions Mark the Way

~by Charity Marrone

During this season as we find ourselves re-entering the Story of Easter I am reminded of how grand our story of faith can be. It is often referred to as the greatest story ever told. For me it is good to remember that many contributions were made to the full story. It is a collection of smaller stories of individuals getting into situations and trying their best to figure out where to go, who to go with and how to find their way back. These stories are known to be essential parts of God’s plan. I happen to belong to a group of folks who are considered – wingers. This makes it incredibly hard to comprehend or relate well to this act of planning… From the beginning of time God planned ALL the things? I struggle at the thought of thinking ahead of which meal to prepare….every.single.day.

So it seems to me that considering the story of my faith in another way might also be helpful to those like me who believe in

…things happening in no particular order, yet meaningfully.

…opportunities that we participate in, as we are, where we are.

…adventures that we choose

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Ever since I was a kid who could check out a library book, I have enjoyed the Choose Your Own Adventure series. It allowed me a sense of engagement. I appreciated that the author was so upfront and honest. You are even addressed by the author throughout the story. There were circumstances given when you get to ask for help or take the plunge! Sometimes you “say” things in the story that might resemble something you’d actually utter while escaping certain death within the last possible second. Other times you disagree with “yourself” but move forward only to find that unfortunately you were unable to make it. Bummer.

This sure speaks to me in my faith. Don’t we have those voices that are present within us in the midst of making most of life’s important decisions? At times, extremely loud and abrupt so to get their case made. Then to realize the deepest silence comes when you finally get to the point of ok, let’s do it. Crickets. And shoot, sometimes we fall short and do not reach the intended outcome.

Similarly to life, exciting unexpected things always happened in the pages of these stories. You stand alone faced with the questions.

What will you do?

Your choice may lead to success or disaster. Sure, it gives you the reader a sense of control, but also a dire sense of hopefulness that things will turn out ok. Although, maybe they won’,t but for goodness sake turn the page! …OR Go to page 47. It was always especially disappointing to be directed to go to the next page, even if it skipped around. Still you are reminded that, yes, you get to skip pages without losing out. For me, it was all about the choices. The more choices the better because then there were more ways to go back and change the ending, again and again.

How will you get back?

Taking chances or playing it safe, either way, the very idea that if I could change it meant that I could have a part. It was intended and invited by the author. He designed it for the reader to be included in how it turned out. He even wanted me to be the main character of the story. Even if it changed the story, even if it was messy, even if the plot suffered. Because face it, it did. I do not remember much about many of these stories that I read. The books were not extraordinary literary experiences. A few of the titles have stayed in my mind because they were extremely dramatic, but the story faded nearly gone by the time I got to take the next one home. Nevertheless, I looked forward to getting the chance to read the next one, no matter how the story went. It meant something significant to be included in the way the story played out.

Who will go with you?

Isn’t this the kind of story the Father offered through His son?

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
 as something to be exploited, but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form, he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross. Philippians 2: 5-8

There could have been another way. I believe that we inform the continuation of the story through our lives with him, in the very unique way that way we choose to live it out. We get to be with him through the risky exciting situations and the poorly ending seasons of chapters that seem to never end, end too soon, or that simply fizzle out.

Will you go alone or ask for help?

Of course, we can’t go back and change Jesus’ story, it is the very story that keeps us present to the certainty of death that leads us to cling to the eternal hope giving light to the path of the way of life.

We can’t write out our children’s stories for them. But we can join with them, as he did for us, in each other’s life adventures. It was a pleasant surprise to find out that the creator of the CYOA series did so as a result of reading to his daughters whom he asked to help develop situations for characters in his books. Each girl had a very different idea of how and what the character could do.

As a parent, I wonder if I might think of ways to allow my children to experience their faith in a CYOA way. I believe it is so important to gift them with the story shaping questions…What will you do? How will you get back? Will you ask for help or try it on your own? Who will go with you?

Charity Marrone is a creative soul seeking to experience life wholeheartedly, most often discovering first-hand adventure with her gutsy husband, three wildly inspiring, fun loving daughters, and one big hearted, mysterious step son.  You’re likely to find her avoiding the dishes and laundry, at the dining room table, piecing together reflections from reading, poetry and spiritual writings, and whatever else is on her mind that day through the spiritual practice of making messy art.

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