Monday, December 10, 2012

My exercise in transparency.

If you haven't read the post "in which the homeschooler goes to school.."  you may want to catch up before reading today's post.

I wanted to share where I was emotionally/mentally/spiritually through this process.  It may encourage some and dumbfound others.  Either way, I'd like to chronicle it as a "stone of remembrance" for future days of doubt.

Let me start by laying down a quick foundation for this post.  I know that the topic of school choice is  quite controversial.  Not just in way of personal convictions but in philosophy of education.  I get that.  So let me be clear on some key points before you proceed rummaging through my scattered thoughts:

1.  I love homeshooling.   My philosophy of its benefits in education and how wonderful it can be has NOT changed.  I still believe strongly that it is a noble venture and should be approached with extreme numbing down of expectations.  Did that confuse you?  Well, those that homeschool will know what I'm talking about.  Rarely does it look like what we expect it to.  But the benefits far outweigh, for most families, the cons and when done well, the child thrives.

2. I am speaking about myself, not you.  I will keep all my statements focused on "me, myself, or I."  Please hear my heart on this: this post is not trying to persuade you in any direction.  It is merely me sharing where I have walked.  If you feel encouraged, great!  But it is NOT my desire to make you feel inadequate, proud of yourself or anything in between.

3.  I desire respect from all sides of the discussion.  There is enough GRACE at the cross to realize that this topic, while important for families to decide, is not critical to salvation, sanctification  or the furtherance of the Gospel.  Therefore it is not a dogmatic discussion.  If you care more about where you land on the subject than you do for the people involved.. I encourage you to take some deep breaths and step away from the topic.

Okay, so that's done.

I will acknowledge that I like to be in control.  Not in a "in your face" kind of way.  Just a tad bit more subtle.  And to be honest, I have learned (about myself) that as a professing believer in Jesus Christ.. I struggle to realize how much I pat myself on the back for said "appearance" of control.  All the while, professing that I really do believe that God is the one who is Sovereign.  Big picture.  Yet, I struggle with the personal application of that truth.

So when I realized that I was deeply in over my head, beyond the "God never gives you more than you can handle" farce, I was ready to relinquish some control.   The truth is that I can definitely put on myself more than I can handle and have the danger of not wanting to appear that I can't handle it, so I will take on stress that God does not intend for me.

I knew two months ago that I was not being consistent with Jorge.  Our home chaos (just during school) was enough to make the most willing teacher and student have a nervous breakdown.  And then there was the fact that he asked me if he could go.  And his reason had nothing to do with an unhealthy attachment to his family.  He wanted to LEARN, in quiet.  Without the 2yo screaming and the 4 yr old whining and fighting with the 6 yo.  And the mom constantly interrupting the learning to put out another squabble.

On the morning of my "aha moment" what hit me was the thought: "I can't do this anymore." That is truly THE single most difficult thing for me to admit.  I didn't feel like a failure.  No. I had taught two kids to read, basic math facts and potty trained three kids (the latter being the most noble!).  No, I didn't feel like a failure.. it was the thought of "this isn't working anymore."

I sat on the couch and cried.  Not because I wanted it to work, but because I knew that no matter how much more I tried it wasn't going to work.  I cried because I was sad that what I knew would work would go against my dream.  It would go against my comfort zone.  It would mean..

.. I would have to trust Him.  

Then I cried because I realized that I didn't trust Him.

I felt as though God was calling my "bluff" and calling me out on yet another area of my life that I thought was "just fine."

Who would watch out for my baby?
What if someone hurt his feelings and I wasn't there to comfort him and remind him of the truth?
What if he forgot the foundational truths of his faith in the moment he needed them most?

You see, in my mind most mommas fear what other kids will teach their kids on the playground: like body parts and sex.  But that stuff is common knowledge in our house.  Yes, my 6 & 7 year old know the basics of sex.  They know things that grown adults refuse to talk about with their teenagers.  But that's just how we've done things in our house.  So that's not my concern at all.  Besides, any thing mentioned on the playground is open for discussion with us.  (Shoot, it's likely my kids who would be "teaching" the other kids on the playground).

No, I had concerns about my son remaining sensitive to the things of God, if he isn't being taught those things all day.  And I'm not talking curriculum here.  Not a Bible class.  But a "you get in a fight with someone and we get to bring the Gospel in to that discussion immediately"kind of way.  I was uncomfortable that I would not be there to "fix" that for God.  You know, me, His ambassador to my child. (said, tongue in cheek).

But in the middle of those What If's God whispered, "He's mine, Rachel.  I made Him.  I am responsible for changing his heart.  I will speak those truths to him, yes, even at 7 years old.  He wants to follow me and I will be faithful to that! Can you believe that I want to?  That I'm capable?"

If he goes to school someone can hurt him and create a deep wound that can remain for life: "Yes, Rachel. But I am the God who can restore and heal." Besides, do I really think that I can protect him from this his whole life? No.

If he goes to school I don't have as much time to teach him more about the love of the Father: "Yes, but I am with him always.  I speak those things to him.  And you reiterate and give him examples."  Besides, this certainly has made me more intentional THAT is for sure!

I honestly didn't have a problem realizing it wasn't working.  I have always said that I would reevaluate each child each year.  When it was time I had NO doubts he would be fine educationally speaking.. it was me that was struggling to relinquish my control over my concerns for his spiritual growth. Because, as parents, we have very little control there anyway (internally speaking).

There are some that would argue (heck, I used to be one of them) that keeping your kids home allows for a safety net of protection long enough to secure spiritual foundations in a child's life so that when they leave your home they are able to withstand the questions that will come to their faith.  I understand that, I really do.  But I have to believe that if God can bring two individuals from broken homes, no Christian faith of their own until college and very strong influences from the world, to now have a thriving relationship with Him and a passion for the Gospel and a desire to lead their four children into a family and faith life that they themselves did not have.. that God is strong enough and big enough to handle my son going to public school for 1st and 2nd grade (and beyond, if needed).

I would have never, in a million years, expected to follow this path.  But given my specific set of circumstances that led us to decide this was the best option for right now, I am trusting that the Lord is leading our family specifically.  He is giving us wisdom and discernment as to the needs of the moment as well as trust that He is able to redeem as well as orchestrate the heart of our children. And reminding us that He is not limited or bound by the place where our children receive their education.

This is not to say that there aren't specific challenges to making those foundations prevalent, and it does take way more intentional living than I have previously experienced, but it is worth it.

Our family is thriving and the stress level has gone down considerably.  I am able to enjoy my time with the younger three and Jorge is able to learn and grow in areas that I was not able to pull off.

I appreciate all the prayers and support and I look forward to what the next year brings!

Thanks for sticking around long enough to read that. Any feedback you have is welcomed!!

Just keep it respectful!


emily said...

We were totally going down the home-school route, committed and convicted... and she's obviously in public school kindergarten. So many things factored in, including those issues you mentioned - a kid who wanted to go to school (and is thriving there), a mom who has two more (and one on the way, not to mention finishing school herself) and is already on the brink of a mental meltdown... I'm glad we can commit for this year and reevaluate as needed (even with each child)... and that we can trust the Lord with the lives of our kids. May they be a blessing to their peers and teachers!

Sandy said...

Thank you so much. I too have had to wok on relinquishing control over how my family will grown and how I will have children. We always knew we wanted to adopt, but assumed it would be after we had biological children. Now that I am faced with the possibility of not having biological children, although I do have moments of feeling "broken" I have to keep reminding myself that God created me exactly as I am and that my family will be beautiful and full of love. Even if they don't look like me, they will look like Him.

Rachel said...

Great post, and very convicting to me personally.

You mean the need to be in control is not trusting God? You mean I can't do a better job of raising my kid than God can?