1. a narrative, either true or fictitious, in prose or verse, designed to interest, amuse, or instruct the hearer or reader; tale.
What things make your heart ache? Last night, I was listening to The Story of the World, Volume 4 audiobook with my daughters. The chapter we were listening to was on WWI and the subsequent Treaty of Versailles. It's difficult to listen to this, knowing what comes next. I want to jump into the story and say, "No! Don't do it! Don't put such harsh penalties on the Germans. Show some mercy. You'll demoralize them to the point that they'll listen to anyone who can make them feel better about themselves. And you can hardly envision the evil incarnate who will step in to fill that gap." I literally cried as I listened. Because the story of our world is not a kind or gentle story. It's not the kind of story that leaves you feeling warm and content inside. It is a story that screams for redemption and makes my soul scream for the redeeming to start right here, right now.
This is a story that stays with you. Today I was thinking about Woodrow Wilson's League of Nations and how he was able to convince the Europeans to join, but couldn't convince Congress to go along with it. The US was isolationist and basically took the attitude that Europeans could worry about Europe. This train of thought led me to an uncomfortable parallel in my own life. I feel like being a bit of an isolationist right now. Middle school seems like one big, daunting morass. So I'd rather just home school for a few years and wait to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Because if I send them to a school that's a work in progress, it would require that I pour myself into that school in order to make it work - not just for my girls, but for the whole community. And while that's a good and worthy thing, what I feel like doing is pouring into my daughters and my family right now. Is that isolationist? I think it might be. Is it wrong? I don't know.
Isolationism might also be a valuable chapter of not only my story, but the stories of my children. Pouring into them in a unique, consistent and concentrated way for a few years might enable them to be light and salt to the world instead of travelers who are constantly needing to shelter their small flame from life's raging storms. What if an isolationist chapter in our story yielded daughters who are beacons instead of pinpoints of light?
I try to refer to my knowledge of history and see whether there are lessons in it for me. Was the US able to use a period of inward focus to then come to the aid of others in need? I'll confess that my knowledge of the World Wars is sketchy, but I do remember standing with my husband in a WWII museum in Germany, studying the timeline and seeing Hitler continue to march through Europe year after year while my country did nothing. I turned to J and said, "Why? Why did we wait so long? Who could have been saved?" I'm telling you, it's a sad story. And while ultimately the good guys won, far too many lives were lost.
So what is the lesson in this for me? I really have no idea. Is isolationism the right choice for a season? Again, I have no answers. I do know that I want my story and my daughters' stories to be different than The Story of the World. I want our stories to be about redemption. A friend of mine was recently sharing that her son asked why he couldn't watch certain movies. She gave him the answer she was able to come up with at the time (the one many of us give about inappropriate content, etc.), but her husband gave her son a great answer. He basically said, "I'm not going to let you watch those movies because they tell the wrong story. God's story is one of redemption. And if you're watching movies that don't tell that story, you're not getting the whole story."
That is what I want. I want my story to be one of redemption. I hope God is at work right now redeeming the mistakes I make daily with my daughters. I hope he is gentling their hearts as they receive consequences for poor choices. I hope he's planting forgiveness there for the times when I am selfish, too short with them and unwilling or unable to give them what they need. I hope my failures point them to his redemption. That is what makes my heart ache: that the story of our world is so sad. Here's what gives me hope: the story of redemption is still be written.