This week I went to see President Obama give a speech to a group of about 8,000 students and young people here in Atlanta. The content of the speech was interesting (about upward class mobility and relieving the student loan debt for the next generation). But the reason I went was actually because I have never seen the President speak in person, and I wanted this to be a part of my story. So, I was able to secure tickets from a friend of a friend, and waited in line to go through secret service security, and was fortunate enough to be one of the folks chosen to stand on the floor in front of the stage right where the president walked out to give his speech. All because I wanted to one day, be able to tell this story.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the other stories that I want to tell. And notice that I said, what stories do we want ourselves to tell, because we can’t necessarily always control the stories that others tell about us. But, make no mistake about it, as parents and particularly as fathers, we have to be vigilant about the stories that we are actively creating through the decisions we make daily. We are in charge of our stories, through the decisions we make and our responses to the situations that arise in our lives. This morning I was listening to an excellent podcast of Andy Stanley’s, and it reminded me of the implications of our current (and past) decisions, on our future (and present) stories.
For example, how different would my story be right now had I not gotten married 10 years ago to the woman I still love deeply today? What about this, right now I’m in the midst of career transition, what do I want my story to be about this season of my life one year, or two years from now? As our daughters are young, what do I want their story to be about their childhood? We’re choosing to build a new home, in a neighborhood with “better performing” schools, with the active intention of making this a part of our children’s stories. Pastor Stanley makes an important point about stories; typically because most of life’s decisions are made in emotionally charged situations, it’s hard to really gain the perspective in order to make the right decision unless you’re asking yourself a question like this.
The next time you make a parenting decision, around discipline, education, or the next time you make a relationship decision with your spouse or partner, what’s the story you want to tell? Because if you ask yourself that question early, and often enough, you just might end up with fewer regrets and more stories worth sharing.