After hatin’ on, and hating, homeschooling for the past month and however many days we’ve been doing it, I was ready to throw my hands up in the air and say “Forget it. I don’t care where these children go to school; I just want somebody else to do it and be responsible for their learning because it just can’t be me.” I was a mess and barely making it through the 2-3 hours of school work that needed to be done. I hated it, the children hated it, and we were all miserable. I collapsed in frustrated-end-of-my-rope-ugly tears at the table on a day Jeff was home for a little while, and the children all looked on in stunned silence, for a change.
I confessed to Jeff (later) just how much I hated trying to teach the children and how I just could not reconcile why God called me to do it when it was so hard, so unpleasant, and nobody seemed to be learning anything anyway. Meanwhile, I was sick every other day (bad nausea in addition to normal 10 + visits to Coco), I was so fatigued on my ‘good’ days, Scarlett just wasn’t getting simple addition and subtraction, Lexi was squawking about how bored she was, and Gideon wanted more breaks and rewards for finishing his work than a professional athlete. I also unloaded that, aside from the main financial aspect of not being able to return our children to their Christian school, we both believed that God was allowing us the opportunity to infuse Christ into every subject, but as it was, they were better off with any Jack Daniels off the street because there wasn’t any Jesus coming out of me. I was all pi$$ and vinegar (as I’ve heard some old folks in the family say) and the Holy Spirit was choked out before he even made an entrance into our school day.
Typically, I am not a quitter. I force myself to see things through to a natural conclusion, no matter how painful or how hard. That fatalistic determination has changed somewhat since losing my intestine. Some things just aren’t worth it and I have had to realize I just cannot do everything I think I can; that’s why I am so very careful and particular about what I commit myself to.
There was just no way around homeschooling, though I’ve been trying to weasel out of it since I reluctantly agreed with God about my semester assignment, even though I really wanted it to self-destruct after five seconds and free me to pursue writing, reading, napping, lunching with friends…you know, all those things we moms wish we had time for, but don’t.
How DO you reconcile a task, a really, really, really, beyond-challenging task God has asked you to do that you know from the beginning is going to be the most difficult encounter of your life (and yes, homeschooling is 100X harder than simply dealing with bad health, at least for me)?
Yesterday, during my pastor’s sermon, he smacked me upside my head with the answer. I may have been thinking that I was displaying some of the fruit of the spirit, mentally claiming that I was full of the Holy Spirit because of other areas of service, but the truth is, if you’re not displaying all the fruit (it’s not a pick me basket of fruit options, it’s a collective basket of fruit – a super glued glob, if you will). Either I’m displaying the fullness of the Holy Spirit in my life by demonstrating ALL the fruit or I’m exposing nothing but the rotten objectionable remains by choosing piecemeal what I am going to express. If I exhibit love, joy, and peace, but neglect patience, kindness, and goodness…well, I am not full of the Holy Spirit and Christ cannot work through me to my children. I’ve smeared myself with putrefying fruit, pranced around with rancid eau de cologne, and now I want my tainted self to love something that’s HARD and to give/get pleasure out of it? There’s no way. I’ve set myself up for complete failure.
What is Christ’s goal for our lives if we belong to him? It’s to bring him honor and glory, right? And he is going to use anything/everything to bring us to that point of where we are wholly and completely surrendered to him, even if it takes a lifetime of trials to get our attention. When I get complacent and comfortable with my spirituality, I know he’s gonna rock me off that dock into a storm surged sea with nothing the naked eye can discern for rescue…and yet, if I only reach behind me, I’ll feel the strongest stoutest surest safety line bound around my waist, and he, the author and perfector of my salvation, is standing upon dry land, white robes billowing in the wind, eyes fixed upon me, his hands holding the rope, and his feet as immovable as stone while he simply waits for me to acknowledge his presence and his help. WHAT AM I WAITING FOR?
My lazy carnal self wants someone else to do the hard work for me, but where would that leave me? A person’s spiritual life cannot be lived by another, and so, if someone else picked up my slack, I’d be stuck in exactly the same place I was before (stinky and piece-mealing my portion of the Holy Spirit) without having grown at all. Challenges and trials stretch us beyond what’s comfortable to attain a new measure of Christ in our lives all while moving toward the fullness of Christ’s righteousness.
And so what am I trying to say here? I am not content with where I’ve been for the last month. I’ve freely admitted that I’ve been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad teacher, and a rather unlikable mom, too. I needed to be emptied of myself, re-filled and re-focused, and realize, with a call to arms, that Christ called ME to homeschool MY children because there were things in MY life that I had not surrendered to him. Despite my infirmity, my disability, and all the things I use to excuse myself from overworking, those are simply a crock of bull in the life of the believer. They are real, they are hard, and they can be overwhelming, but they don’t excuse me from living my Christian life to bring God the greatest glory for the sacrifice he made for me, and it begins in my home, in the smallest details, in the hardest calling, and in being both a mother and a teacher (and, of course, wife).
God has seen fit to refine me, to be making me more like him; I should be thanking him instead of cursing the mission he has entrusted me with as of right now: my children’s education. I finally accept the commission, a little late, but with the full understanding that he challenges and stretches me for my good, which is ultimately, his glory.
And I am happy to report that I’ve had 3 ‘good’ days in a row, I’ve been working hard all weekend with Scarlett on her math facts using ridiculous things she knows to make verbal math problems…and when we sat down this morning, that little girl FLEW through her page of addition. I cried happy happy happy tears and when she told me not to cry, I said, while tapping her head, “Scarlett, tell me what I tell you.” And she responded, “I have a good brain.” Yes, my dear heart, you do. And so do I. I just needed a little knock on it to remind me that my heart and mind need to be in concert.
“Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)