One night recently, my son Eli presented a familiar request. “Tell me a story about me when I was little, Mommy.” Since he’s not quite six, I fought the urge to say, “One time when you were not quite six, you asked me to tell you a story about you when you were little.” But I held it together and responded with one of his favorites: things he used to say incorrectly.
“Well, buddy, you used to say ‘fighter fighter’ instead of firefighter and ‘cornament’ instead of ‘ornament.’ You called croutons ‘hay’ because they looked like hay bales to you, and you insisted that pine branches were called ‘brooms.’ And after we had a rabid bat and several regular bats in our house a couple of years ago, you thought they were actually called ‘rabbit bats’ and ‘tiger bats.’ Oh, and you thought ‘cheese’ was plural for the longest time, so you’d ask for ‘a bowl of shredded cheese’ but ‘a slice of chee.’”
Eli laughed hysterically and then said, “Tell me another story about me when I was little.” I panicked a little at that because I only have so many stories that come to mind easily. Now, I realize that I should literally have nearly six years of stories stored up there. But most of those cells have turned to mush from sleep deprivation, unnecessary information like my student identification number from college, and eight separate viewings of the entire series of Alias.
Thankfully, Facebook exists.
I pulled up my profile on my phone and scrolled for what seemed like ages and ages. “Okay, here’s one. You said to me, ‘Get me some water!’ and I said, ‘Can you think of another way to say that?’ and without missing a beat you said, ‘Get me some agua!’”
Eli started giggling again, saying, “You wanted me to be polite, and I just switched to Spanish instead! I am such a clever kid.”
It occurred to me while reading these stories and recounting them to him at his request, that this is precisely why we have the Bible. There are things we don’t remember about our lives with God because we were young Christians, because we weren’t paying attention as well as we should have been, or because a million other things have happened to push our memories of God’s faithfulness out of the top tier.
But the Bible is always there for us to consult. It may not have specific stories from our lives, but it does contain hundreds and hundreds of stories from the history of Israel and the Christian church. Each of those can spark our memories, helping us to revisit similar moments from our own lives.
When we study Scripture, we know we aren’t alone in our struggles with doubt by reading about Thomas; that there is still room for us at the table no matter what mistakes we’ve made or will make by reading about Judas as well as the Samaritan woman at the well; that God loves people before, during, and after both wild success and deep failure by reading about David; that God’s patience continues even when we run our mouth too much and speak before thinking by reading about Peter; that ordinary people can be used for extraordinary things by reading about Mary.
On and on it goes. We have in the Bible an amazing repository of philosophy, history, poetry, songs, stories, wisdom, and truth. It’s always available to us, even and especially when our own memory fails us.
Thanks be to God.
Bethany Beams is an elementary school office manager and certified doula who can’t get enough of storytelling, which she pursues through website design, photography, and freelance editing. Her many loves include her son, napping, libraries, ice cream, singing, snow leopards, Bagel Bites, 75° weather, the color turquoise, and lists. She blogs very occasionally at bethanybeams.com and designs all sorts of pretty things for Bethany Creates.
Photograph © Luke Palmer, used with permission