Change and choice

Our Beangirl faced a decision. She will be changing schools in September, and she’d had to choose between two offers. Most of the kids in her class will be moving up to the local catchment area school, but she’d also been offered a place in the church school, where the kids from her choir will be going. Tricky. Trickier still was that the Spouse and I already knew what the “right” answer should be, and still we wanted her to choose for herself.

It was our hope that by giving her ownership over this new stage, we would be equipping her for the move. We also wanted to give her an opportunity to think through her own reasoning and to listen to her own heart. We told her that we were there for her and with her, but before she heard what we wanted, we wanted to hear what she wanted.

This wasn’t about curriculum. While I trust that the church school will offer faith-filled explorations of traditions and history and that our daughter would be inspired learning how generations of people of faith have shaped wider cultures in many and diverse ways, none of that played into our hopes for her decision.

We wanted our daughter to choose because we love her and want to give her space to grow.

A lesson in love

Seasons change so quickly. Our children teach us that. With small ones around the house, we are constantly responding to change. We celebrate it. We meet their challenges (more or less). We buy new shoes. We hold them close and let them wriggle out of our laps, eager to find their own way of being. We also know change in ourselves. In hope and in weariness. In fickleness, perhaps, but also growth. The self is a thing in motion. Daily, we shift and evolve. We develop new ways of being. We are renewed. With grace, in the midst of all changes, we learn to love.

In the Gospel of Mark, we are given the story of a scribe asking Jesus which commandment is the first of all. He replies that we are to love the Lord your God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our mind, and with all our strength. Then he adds that the second commandment is this, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”

His first answer is a calling and it is complete. God calls us into a complete love that holds all that we are. In his Book of Hours, Rainer Maria Rilke describes the way God’s love is both open and deeply personal.

You are the deep innerness of all things, The last word that can never be spoken.
To each of us you reveal yourself differently:
To the ship as a coastline, to the shore as a ship.

Nothing comes before this personal love. It is our life itself at its inner core. Personal and achingly real. This is the deep love that frees us to love our neighbour and ourselves because we are each lovingly made in the image and likeness of God.


Love requires space. When we set rigid limits, we leave bits out and we fail to see what is happening in front of our eyes. We treat our children as problems to solve rather than as fellow pilgrims to cherish. To love ourselves and others, we need to make space for changes to happen. We need to let the story unfold.

In the end, Beangirl chose the church school and I think we’re all feeling happy about that decision. I’m not sure how we would have reacted had she chosen the “wrong” school. I hope that we would have been gracious and that these ideas about space and love would still ring true.

The church school is smaller and more academically rigorous, but crucially for me, there is an intentional emphasis on living out the gospel values of love, acceptance, responsibility and forgiveness. That is a beautiful framework for education and I pray that this school will be a faith-filled space where her character can flourish and take shape. 


  • Katie Munnik

    Katie is an Ottawa writer living in Cardiff with her spouse and three growing children. You can also find Katie on Twitter @messy_table.

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