23 November 2015

Why Homeschooling Is Not My Idol


Have you ever sensed God taking you on a new journey? Sure, the path may be a little unclear right now but you know it’s drawing you closer to Him and His heart for you. Our family has gone through some big changes in the last few months (well, let’s be honest, it’s been more like the last year or so). Through it all, I can feel God stripping me away of my need to control every situation and have it turn out just so.

I’m usually a person with big ideals and perfectionist tendencies. Throw in a hefty dose of pride and self-righteousness and you’ve got one heck of a combination. I know.

But God, in His great love and mercy for me, saw to it, that I needed a complete overhaul.  

He’s used Zachary and his birth story to stretch me in ways that only He can. I had absolutely no control over his situation. The only thing I could control was my response to it. He knew what was best and He obviously had a plan. I just had to trust Him, regardless of what the outcome looked like. Turns out, what He had in mind was healing, redemption, and life. It always is.

We made it through that trying yet triumphant time but weeks later, we experienced the sad passing of my dad. Once again, God was showing me what little control I actually had. He’s the only one who holds our tomorrows. Quickly, I began to realize that all the stuff I used to think mattered, really doesn’t. At least, not to Him.

God could care less about the labels and identities we create for ourselves. He needs women with obedient and surrendered hearts who long to do His will, not simply to justify our own.

For many years, I have to admit, I wore the badge of “homeschooling mom” with pride and zeal. I championed homeschooling passionately because I honestly believed it was the best thing for my children. However, in the process, there were times when I grew self-righteous and judgmental. I can see that now. 

For various reasons, many of us women, want and need affirmation, don’t we? Instead of seeking God and then quietly resting in His will and affirmation, we often find ways to make ourselves appear more capable in our own right. We may even thrive on the perceived notions of others who look at us and think, “I could never do that.” Somehow it makes us feel better about the choices we make.

But looking back, “homeschooling mom” was not who I was. It was what I did for a season. And seasons change. 

Apparently, our decision to stop homeschooling and send the girls to school came as a surprise to many. I guess we were considered an “ultra conservative” homeschooling family so to hear that the girls were now going to school, well, it shook things up a bit. (At least that’s what I was told recently).

News travels fast in our desert community so within a week, it seemed as if everyone knew the girls were going to school. The interesting thing to me is the condemnation and judgment I’ve received from a handful of other homeschooling moms for making this choice. You might say it’s been sort of a wake up call; God’s way of showing me a reflection of what my own heart used to look like. Yuck.

I think sometimes we forget we’re all on the same team. 

We serve and pray to the same Sovereign God. We ask for guidance and wisdom from the same Alpha and Omega. And sometimes, yes sometimes, He might just answer us differently from our dear sister.

God is stripping me away of some deep rooted pride and self-righteousness. He’s reminding me the only thing I should boast about and champion is His great love and the saving grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Women tend to be most comfortable when we can see ourselves fit in a certain category; be it homeschooling, church denomination, organic eating, fitness, baby wearing, breast feeding, oil diffusing, cloth diapering, cooking from scratch, book hoarding, career pursuing, etc., etc. You get the picture. We can all fill in our own blanks.   

While all of those can be beautiful choices, they are not who we are on the inside. If not careful, we can become a generation of mothers who have turned our false identities of motherhood into idolatry. We worship this idol and cling to it with pride and clenched fists instead of embracing who our Creator made us to be. I don’t know about you but I want to be the kind of woman who God can mold and teach. Someone who encourages others to follow hard after Him, no matter where He takes them. I want to genuinely speak in kindness and extend the lavish grace that I’ve been given. And I certainly can’t do that when I’m sitting in judgment of others’ choices.

My husband is a great example of someone who always believes the best about someone. He humbles himself and gives people the benefit of the doubt, always. After all, who are we to know what goes on inside of a particular family? What situations and circumstances they may be facing? Who are we to know that they are not obeying God by sending their kid to public school, just as much as I am, for homeschooling? When we have the peace of knowing that we are doing exactly what God wants us to be doing, no justification to the world is necessary.

“Then justice will dwell in the wilderness and righteousness will abide in the fertile field. And the work of righteousness will be peace, and the service of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever. Then my people will live in a peaceful habitation, And in secure dwellings and in undisturbed resting places…” –Isaiah 32:16-18

For many years, we enjoyed homeschooling and we were blessed by our decision to do it. It was great for our family-- until it wasn’t anymore.

As God often does, He orchestrated a series of events that culminated into one pivotal moment. That moment for me was when I found myself at the bottom of my proverbial rope. I had gone through a season of frustration, defeat, and utter exhaustion. This was different than any other time. I knew something had to change and unfortunately, sometimes, God needs to break me before He can build me back up again.

Morgan and I both knew the best thing for the girls was to send them to school. I just had to reconcile it with my pride. I was no longer going to be a “homeschooling mom.”

I had to admit, I could not do it anymore. I could not give my children everything they needed. I had to let go of my ideals, my control, and my self-imposed identities. Instead, I had to let them go and trust God with my children. His children.

A funny thing happens when we finally surrender. It often opens the floodgates to something greater. Like any loving parent, God longs to bless His children. By His grace, the girls have enjoyed going to school more than any of us could have ever imagined. School has been nothing but a blessing in many ways and we are so grateful to the Lord for it all. 

Isn’t it amazing that God is often working on a hundred things on our behalf and sometimes, all we can see is 2 of them? I have absolutely no idea what tomorrow brings or why He chose this time in our lives to make such big changes. All I know is that time and time again, He has proven Himself trustworthy and faithful and His plans are far, far greater than mine.

The world is growing increasingly unstable and there are many evils afoot. Precious sister, let’s not make minor issues, major ones. Jesus does not care whether we homeschool, send our kids to private school, or public school. Let’s not confuse what we do with who we are. Whatever He’s called us to, let us go forth in obedience and faith and He will give us the peace to quietly and confidently rest in Him.  

“My calling as a mother is the same as any other Christian’s: to fulfill God’s will for our lives and glorify Him…and I am to delight in him and worship him and praise him in whatever circumstance I find myself.”

- Sally Clarkson, The Mission of Motherhood

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