Friday, June 1, 2012

A Big Enough Story

She deserves shoulders to stand on
I have a day job that almost pays the bills and that has me traveling much of the time. I am CEO of The Charis Project, working like crazy to establish a model for self-sustaining care for at-risk children that transforms the surrounding communities to the point that the children are no longer at risk. I am working out a theology that drives human participation in cosmic redemption. I try to be a present husband and father to my wife and four children. I claim no particular moral fortitude in any of this. At one level this is just the work I see that needs doing.

On the other hand, I could have a much easier life if I dropped a few of these things.

Children learn to live in the stories that their parents create. Parents create these stories by the words they say to and around their children. But more so they create these stories by the life they lead, by how they live their lives. We build the universe our children live and grow in.

If we live a small life we provide our children with a small universe with near horizons. They will learn to live in this story. They will learn to settle the way we have settled and they will not know that they have settled.

C.S. Lewis talks about sin in terms of being satisfied with too small pleasures. "Reality television," a new iPod, sex without commitment, making the next rung on the company ladder: pleasures too small to sustain life. But, pleasures that fill a small universe. Symptoms.

It is one thing to tell our children that they can do anything. It is a completely different thing to lead by example. To build a larger universe, to create a larger story we need to live in a larger universe. We need to not just talk about it but we need to actually interact with it. We need to, by our actions, push back the horizons.

It is not enough to not watch "reality television." It is not enough to only have sex within a committed relationship. We need to start living in a larger story ourselves. However, what is required is something that goes beyond ideology. Another way to put this is that we need to live beyond ourselves.

In order to actually build we need to act in the concrete. This action cannot be transient but must be committed. It cannot be random but must be intentional. Whether that action is deciding to find a way to fund an orphanage or doing stand-up comedy to give people freedom and hope.

(It may be that most any concrete action that brings benefit can push the horizon as long as the stated and true reasons for that action extend beyond the action itself. When we do not act merely to act, but rather for the sake of something greater that is still embodied in the action itself.)

My parents gave me a big universe. I grew up in a world where people's lives were transformed by a power greater than my parents because my parents acted. I grew up with a father who gave more than he had for the sake of not just an abstract notion of truth but a truth that hit the ground and set people free from crippling abuse and lies. I grew up with a mother that decided that her measure of success was the quality of humans she let loose on the world.

I do the things that I do because I owe it to my children to provide them with a big enough story for them to come fully alive in. I owe it to them to turn them loose on a universe big enough for them to find pleasures great enough to bring life in abundance.

Rather than bemoaning the decline of the youth, let us push their horizons, let us give our children a universe and a story in which they really can do anything then they will not be satisfied unless they are really doing something.

What concrete actions can you take to make your children's universe bigger? I want to hear them.

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