My daughter recently got married. Such events bring on a world of reflection.
She’s only 19, but she has a job she loves, serves the Lord with Child Evangelism Fellowship and has found a godly man to share her life and her passions with. What greater homeschool success story could there be?
But it wasn’t always so. I started homeschooling her in kindergarten because my husband wanted me to. I started homeschooling with the agreement to try it for a year and with the knowledge I would be signing her up for school by the first day of the first grade. How’s that for “all in?”
That first year was a disaster. I used to teach in the public schools. I had very definite views on what education looked like, what my teaching should look like and what her learning should look like. I tried to turn my home into a school. There was one point where I even wanted a bell to ring. Ironically, that teaching certificate which soothed the concerns of well-meaning strangers who worried about my qualifications was my greatest hindrance to finding the joy of learning in our home. And my daughter and I did battle every day, it seemed. It was an exhausting year, full of challenges as I struggled against her behavior and my own expectations. I was failing and we both were miserable.
Somehow, though, I didn’t quit. Why, when everything seemed to be going wrong, did I decide to stick it out another year? Despite my struggles, I saw a kernel of something, a seed of an idea that was just beginning to germinate. Instead of unmet expectations, I began to see unrealized potential.
If you think about it, there really isn’t much difference between the two. It is all about the subtle shift in perspective from where we are failing to where we can grow. That kept me going long enough to capture a vision for our homeschool and begin to truly work to nurture the hearts and minds of my children. Even then, however, not everything went smoothly all the time. I struggled with feelings of inadequacy and insecurities which threatened to wash our joy into a sea of doubt.
There is one thing that would have helped. One thing that could have quelled the insecurity and the fear. One thing.
I wish I knew the end from the beginning.
That picture above of where she is now after 12 years of homeschooling would have helped a great deal. But we see as through a glass dimly. The end isn’t in sight until we are almost to it. And all along the way, we fret over each perceived failure, each missed opportunity, each plan that never quite came to fruition. And some days, we are sure that it is these things which will bar our children from their futures.
That knowledge would have put to rest my insecurities and my fears and allowed me more time for joy. The homeschool mom I became could have made her appearance a little earlier.
Unfortunately, there is no way for your future self to come back and tell your current self how this whole thing is going to turn out. But there is another kernel of wisdom that would have helped.
I wish I realized sooner that worrying wasn’t helping.
It never helped anywhere in my journey.
“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? ~Luke 12:25
And who of us by worry can secure the outcome of our teaching? It robs you of your joy and doesn’t leave you with any plans for improvement. I don’t think it even motivates you all that much to seek solutions. Worry tends to focus your attention on your weaknesses of the moment rather than on developing plans of action. It leaves you in that place of unmet expectations rather then letting you look forward to the unrealized potential.
When worry drives you to action, it usually causes you to do the same things that aren’t working more consistently and more diligently.
I wish I realized sooner that joy was as important as academics. More important, actually.
Kids don’t have to like everything. It’s OK if they’d prefer to play Legos to studying history and board games to math. It’s even OK for them to despise some things. But joy isn’t just about how we are feeling right now.
Joy is a state of mind and an orientation of the heart. It is a settled state of contentment, confidence and hope. ~Theopedia
Joy comes from resting in the assurances of the hope we have in Christ. It is our ability to see the end from the beginning. But not the end I was talking about before. Even that end is fleeting and insecure. Joy is the anticipation of Heaven. It should color our days and flavor our teaching. It is easy to get sidetracked with the distractions of this world and the challenges each new day brings.
Sometimes, an appreciation of the enormity of the task at hand — raising young men and women in the Lord — causes undo worry all on its own. But our joy should be overflowing. I forgot that too many times.
Because we do know the end from the beginning.
And it is joy and love and patience that will do the most to invite our children to join us on this path. Joy and love and patience, not insecurity and worry and stress.
Joy — Love — Patience
I wish I had pursued them more intentionally sooner.