For the past four years, I've been frequenting a local coffee shop every Friday, because they provide free shots of single origin espresso on Fridays for anyone who asks for one. It's part of their goal to help people come to appreciate good coffee. It's a huge part of why I'm the coffee snob I am.
Over the last few months, I've been thinking a lot about how I can continue to invest in my relationship with my daughters. I'm keenly aware of how quickly they're growing up, and I feel very deeply the fact that I was very busy during my years in seminary. I want to take more, and more intentional, time with them in the months and years ahead, than I was able to when working nearly full time and taking classes at the same time.
So a few weeks ago, I decided that my Friday morning outings—which haven't been a particularly productive time for me work-wise for many months anyway—are now daddy-daughter discipleship times. Each week, I bring one of my little girls with me to the coffee shop, and we just talk.
An important aside here: these aren't "daddy-daughter dates." I have no idea where that language came from, and I think it's ridiculous. Why, you ask? Isn't it just a sweet thing, you ask? Because it is absurd, and conflates kinds of things that ought not be conflated, and reflects a failure to understand all sorts of good kinds of different relationships. If I had sons instead, and took them to a coffee shop, it would obviously not be a date. When I have drinks with one of the guys I'm close friends with, it's not a date. Dates are things of romance. What I'm doing with my daughters is, as should not need explaining, not a thing of romance. Perhaps I'll write more on this at some point, but suffice it to say for now that I love spending special one-on-one time with my daughters, and am happy to call it almost anything… but not a "date."
Now: back to your regularly scheduled programming.
What do we talk about on these outings? Well, whatever they want to talk about, mostly. At 5 and 3 respectively, Ellie and Kate have a lot to say that isn't intrinsically interesting to me, of course. But they're my daughters, and I love them, and so I listen. (Would that I were as good at this the rest of the week as I have been so far on these coffee shop outings!) And then, for some part of the outing, we talk about theology.
Yes. Theology. You'd be amazed how much a 5-year-old or a 3-year-old can take on and understand. And of course their understanding is relatively superficial compared to what it will be in a few decades. But it's a foundation on which they can build everything else later. That's why we have helped them memorize Scripture from an early age, and why we started working through the Heidelberg Catechism with Ellie when she turned four. They don't have to understand every detail now for it to be helpful.
But I am aiming for these morning outings to be things they can understand. Teaching them that God is good and holy, for example. Or, today, walking through the "creation, fall, redemption, restoration" shorthand with Ellie to help her fit the pieces of the Biblical story together. We talked about what the words meant, and what happened in that part of the story—pieces she already knew, from our reading the Bible together, but helping her see what they meant. And then we talked about the fact that it's our story.
One of the sweetest joys of this so far (and we're only three weeks into it!) is how much it has been good for me. Doing the work of finding a way to speak truth to little kids often makes me feel that truth more keenly again. Things that have (rightly, even) become normal to be (in a good way) rise to the level of conscious notice (also in a good way) and I remember what it was like to learn them, and it is good. And I hope my joy and enthusiasm for knowing God will help my girls to grow and flourish in the same.