When our boys were little they treasured our story times.
Especially after dinner, when they were bathed, now in their pyjamas, we’d gather together on our living room couch. The boys squeezing in tight alongside us, snuggling in close, so everyone could follow along and see the pictures.
Our boys delighted in a reading a wide variety of stories, always eager to discover how a story was going to unfold.
Some of their favourite stories were drawn from the Choose Your Own Adventure novels. These novels require the reader to periodically make decisions about how the main character will respond to a situation. Each choice directs the reader to a different page somewhere throughout the book.
The reader’s decisions determine the plot and ending of the story.
Our boys enjoyed the interactive nature of these novels, where their decisions were responsible for creating a range of story lines and multiple-endings.
At each crossroad there was the possibility for lively discussions about what might be the best decision. Junctures where we wrestled with what we thought the protagonist should do. These were the moments where the protagonist was faced with choices like whether they should go into the cave or continue to hike up the mountain. Or whether they should go home to safety or head out on an adventure with their friends.
There were times when we did not like how our decisions influenced the storyline. Where we would then try to wind our way back to the page where we had made a particular choice. Hoping to return to the point where we could replace an original decision with a different, better choice.
But because of the way these novels are structured, where each choice directs you to a particular page, the reader is moved backwards and forwards throughout the novel. This makes it almost impossible to backtrack and find the specific page, and crossroad, where a choice was made.
In the end, we would just have to read on. Accepting the decisions we had made, following the ensuing storyline our choices had created.
But becoming more resolved to make better decisions as we forged ahead.
As we read these novels, I often thought about how they reflected real life.
How throughout our lives we will face many minor and major crossroads, where each crossroad calls us to make a choice.
Crossroads where we must decide to go in one direction. Or another.
Where these choices, both individually and collectively, exert tremendous power and influence on how our life stories will unfold.
Where we seldom have the luxury of returning to a crossroad, of remaking a choice, of changing our past.
Life simply marches forward.
So we too must live in our moments, glancing ahead, while we continue to walk.
Learning from our past choices. So we make better, more life-affirming choices in the future.
Leaning into God’s amazing grace.
Story lines that are filled with affirming, God glorifying choices. Creating stories leading to abundant hope and promise and transformation.
Five Minute Friday Prompt: RETURN
Photo Credit: Annie Spratt and Thought Catalogue, from Unsplash