Word Count

I am discovering that I can either 1) closely monitor the grades of my teenagers or 2) be a sane person. I cannot do both. These are mutually exclusive.

I’ve taken a somewhat confusing approach of occasionally embracing the “knowledge is power” philosophy by obsessively checking grades, only to flip over to the “ignorance is bliss” idea, abandoning any manner of knowing what is happening. Is this helpful? It is not. Is it healthy? Also, no. Yet here we are, riding this roller coaster that is high school academia.

During a recent grade check, I noticed that one of my kids had regressed on the word count of a story he was writing. His teacher sets word count goals to help students stay on track to meet their deadlines. My kid had been progressing at a good pace, and one day I realized he was moving backward. I hoped this was a mistake on the teacher’s part. It was not. When I asked my kid about it, he explained that at a certain point in the story, he didn’t like the direction it was going and decided to scrap the storyline and revamp the whole thing.

Apparently this is a thing we can do.

We can pause, take stock of where we are, and change. We can review to see what’s good, and we can cut out the parts of our story that aren’t working. We can even wipe the whole slate clean and start completely over if we want.

I was raised in the church. It’s been a part of my story since before I was old enough to choose it. I went to bible class and sang bible songs and read bible books. I grew up learning bible stories and memorizing bible facts. I am thankful for the foundation laid at such a young age. But. I’m learning that genuine faith can’t be the same faith that was handed to me. It has got to be what I have lived and learned and tested and wrestled with. And that means that I need to re-evaluate some of my long-held beliefs.

I’m learning that I don’t need to be scared of erasing too much because the real, important stuff will prove true again and again. I’m also learning that if I’m not questioning and testing regularly, I can get stuck hanging onto something that doesn’t ring true; it’s just what I’ve always done/thought. I’m learning that I am much more invested in my story when I’m actively engaged in it.

There can be a temporary cost to cutting out a chunk of your story. You can lose ground, and you can lose time. It would certainly be easier and faster to keep plugging along with the storyline I started with. I could absolutely make it good enough. That path of least resistance sure is a lovely stroll, isn’t it? But in the end, I don’t think I would be satisfied because I’d know that it’s not the best it could be.

The other bit is this: my story won’t look exactly like yours. If it did, that would be plagiarism, and it’s frowned upon. I think each of our stories has to look a little (or a lot) different to encompass the awesomeness of God. I might see His vast love in an area that the guy next to me can’t. And someone else might feel his deep compassion in a way that I don’t. THIS IS GOOD, this is holy, this is all of us working together to see the fullness of God: “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17

Check your kids’ grades. Or don’t, whatever. But don’t get complacent with your own story. Keep editing it, keep checking your sources (spoiler: the bible is really the only source of value here), test your truths, and give yourself permission to change.


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