“These ideas have brought me liberation”
This goal to write for 17 days through the questions posed by Anthony deMello at the beginning of his book, Wellsprings, is one example of taking smaller bites in order to accomplish something bigger. We all want to be better people. We want to love more. We want to be more grateful, change portions of our life, make impacts. We grow discouraged after attempting those things for short time. The reason is because we never determined smaller, more accomplishable steps in those directions. If we wanted to be more grateful, for example, we might have taken a smaller practical step of writing down one thing each day for which I am grateful.
When I am prompted to think of ideas that have brought me liberation, I tried to think of specific steps or challenges I have given myself to move in another larger direction.
The liberating idea that immediately came to mind is Bryleigh’s Bible. It was an idea I got from a couple other men, but I have engaged mine for a much longer process. I have a wide margin NASB bible I am reading through entirely while writing to Bryleigh things I hope for her to know in the margins. I plan to give her the bible when she turns 18.
In 2011 I embarked on a story between father and daughter. I began on the inside flap writing: This is the story of a Father who has always anxiously awaited every opportunity to be with and near his children. It is the story of a Father who promises and protects his children even when they do not understand; even when they outright abandon him. It is a story of an outrageous love that will do crazy and drastic things. This love of a Father will do things you never thought possible or even necessary at times, but make no mistake, this Father's love is real. It is not a fairy tale or piece of nice fiction.
It is a Father's love that could not wait for his children to be created. It is a Father's love that was pained when his children turned away from him. It is a Father's love that always protected and shielded when it could. This is a Father's love that offers the greatest gift ever given to anyone.
My hope for you is that you will always know this Father to be near you. I hope you will know a love for you that is so tangible you could taste it. I hope you will always remember this love through your life as the one truest love that cannot be debated or shadowed. I hope you know this love and trust it even when it is hard to understand.
This hope of mine will require of you trust and risk; risking enough to trust in such an outrageous love.
This is a love for you nobody on earth will ever be able to match, including me, and I love you more than you will ever understand.
This is a large and long (eternal) story, but each piece will make a bit more sense if you remember the Upper story of a Father's outrageous love for you.”
This entire process has been very interesting and freeing. It makes me look at the Bible through an entirely different lens. I have read through the Bible a few times, but this time has been so new. It has made me focus on the things I want and hope my daughter will take away from it. It has made me slow waaaay down as I read through.
It has caused me to place my parenting in question along the way as well. I see Bryleigh every day, NOW, as a 5 year old, but I realize she will not read any of this until she is 18. I am writing to a ‘future Bryleigh’ whom I do not know yet. Will she be a follower of Jesus? Will she have been a follower of Jesus, but drifted away? Will she be highly devoted to being a follower of Jesus? I do not know these things, and it makes me question just what to write to her NOW.
I have been encouraged along the way from parents of older children. On the basic level, I am told it doesn’t matter whether or not she is following Jesus; she is going to love having something from her dad, written in her dad’s handwriting. My brother-in-law lost his dad at a young age, but one of the things he still has is his dad’s Bible with his random notes in the margins. I remember my BIL telling me its one of his cherished possessions for that reason. So I trust that just my handwriting and thoughts will be cherished.
I also trust that as I write these things to her in the margins, I am also living out the things I write. I am challenged to determine what things I really believe and trust. I am attempting to guide my daughter in her mind and heart, because these things deeply matter. I want her to take these things very seriously, and I want them to matter to her. So they absolutely have to matter to me NOW. These are steps I can take now toward something that will be 15 years from now; an adult daughter I have raised. There is freedom and liberation in remembering I have 15 years to help teach and challenge a girl who will become a woman of character, integrity, and wisdom. I have 15 years to learn new things and fail at others. The best ideas are not grandiose explosions of immediacy, but they are the ones you allow the time to develop and grow.