What I first learned was that I was a steward. A steward of the money God had entrusted to me, a steward of the things and time and body that all belonged to God.
The concept was illustrated by the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30. I’m so sorry that anyone would ever have to grow up being taught the things I was taught in the churches I was in as a young child. If you don’t know the parable, some guys were entrusted with some things and they were supposed to invest them. Two of the guys did. One did not, and he was cast into outer darkness by a very angry master (representing God, presumably). You may have a different story about that parable. All I can do is tell you what I learned as a child.
So, yeah, I was taught that I was simply a steward, that everything I had and was belonged to God, not to me. Eventually, that story no longer worked for me.
I still believe I am a steward of the earth, in the sense that all of us are. We do not own the earth. It is something to be respected and cared for. The difference in how I see things now is that I get to take responsibility for my own decisions and reactions, the story I tell and my choices. I own them by taking responsibility for them.
I accept this responsibility. As a matter of fact, I embrace it. I am able to see myself as able to find solutions, ask good questions, explore different possibilities, apply creative thinking, and learn from it all without thinking that there’s some type of puppet master up there pulling strings to “test” me or “teach” me things. Life gives me lots and lots of opportunities to learn. I call it the School of Life. Life is my teacher and I get many lessons presented to me to either learn, or try again to learn.
When Kepler (age 9, born with Down syndrome) was born, we heard a lot of “God talk.” “God only gives special children to special parents.” “God will never take you somewhere where he cannot sustain you.” “God has a plan for you by giving you this child at this time in your life.” What finally ended up making sense to me is that Kepler is a gift, just as our other four children are a gift, but his particular makeup has taught me more than I would have ever expected.
Some might want to attribute those lessons to God. I know that it’s been through a lot of hard work and surrendering to what is. I simply choose to own my choices, decisions, reactions, and growth.