Monday, April 09, 2007

The Why

I was reading a board I regularly visit and there were some questions about how to balance life choices with homeschooling. Where does the mother fit into all of it—her personal happiness and joy?


The original poster wrote this:


“Is my happiness what's "best" for my family? I'm thinking aloud here, asking that somewhat rhetorically. As the saying goes (and as you referenced), "If Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." The sticky wicket, of course, is when Momma's happiness really isn't in the best interests of the family ~ and maybe she doesn't realize that. If I decide to start major training for an athletic even (I'm speaking hypothetically here!) ~ training that consumes large portions of my time, how does fulfilling my desires mesh with my family's best interests? One person's happiness may come at the cost of another's well-being. I may be content...but does that contentment by extension mean the rest of the crew is better off? … So how do you maintain your contentment (and, thereby, pursue what's in the best interests of your family) if/when what you're doing feels tedious?”


These were great questions for me to be thinking of last week. I have been really self-focused lately—just not thinking about what is *truly* best for the family, but about what was amusing or interesting to me. I have not really been interested in working hard or being a good example, or keeping things in order. It is hard work and I have been very unmotivated. I am sorry because that is gross sinful behavior, but I am being honest with you because this is my life. I wrestle with my own selfishness and lazy behavior. Do you?


I wrote back what I know to be *true* - that if a mother *really* wants the *best* for her family then she will be dying to herself on a regular basis. She will not be choosing to pursue only her own personal happiness at every turn. Those things are incompatible really. If you want what is best then you will not be giving in to your own whims so regularly. This is huge huge huge for us Christian mothers. We are shaping the next generation of Christian parents—we cannot really give in to laziness or our own whims. This is really hard some days for me, and every day it is a struggle. However—and here is where our Savior comes in! I repent and turn around to what my calling really is because at the heart of it, I do want what is best for my family—even when it is hard for me.

How does homeschooling fit into it all? I answered her with this: It is absolutely 100% a life choice for us. There are wonderful, productive, delightful days for us—those homeschooling *moments* we all dream of having. AND there are days I wonder WHY I had five children because it is HARD work to be a mother, to be their teacher, to train them all, to be utterly responsible for every detail of their early education and to plan and equip them for their later education. It is huge! And what do you mean I have to keep the house, do the laundry, make dinner *and* be a wife TOO!? :+)

I don't view homeschooling through lenses of contentment unless you mean by that a conscious choice to be content in my life. Being content is a state of mind, and a choice and is not something that is swayed by a bad day/week/month/year. I view homeschooling as a foregone conclusion, with its resulting highs and lows. This is my life and I am committed to it.

Am I happy? Yes, very, but even if I was not (and I have those days too) it is what we have chosen and it is what we will do. There is not a "better option" for us--this is it. Part of that is a philosophical choice in that we want to impart what we believe is a better education in a safe place while allowing our children to be who they are, to grow up as individuals, and with our faith as the foundation. Part of it is a personal calling for us—we believe we are called by God to school our children—so we do.

At the heart it really just depends on why you do what you do period. We are reformed so that means that we try to live by our chief end and that would be to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. We homeschool so that we can.

She said to me: “I understand. But if circumstances were such that you weren't able to homeschool, you would of course still be able to fulfill that mandate....Right? What troubles me about some people (I am not referring to you particularly, Kate) who feel "convicted by God" to homeschool is that they refuse to even consider the fact that circumstances may change. The are so bound up with their "calling", that they begin idolizing it, and their Rightness supersedes God's hand in their lives.”

I responded with: Wow, there is a lot bound up in those words. I don't feel that I am *bound* up in my calling—that is not what I meant—in a negative way I mean. However, at the same time, my calling is part of who I am. I am a wife, a mother, a teacher, etc. I don't long for a time to be free of my responsibilities to pursue my own personal ___. I don't refuse to consider that my circumstances may change, but I am at the mercy of my Savior at the same time. If He has called us to this life then He will enable it to be as well. There are no circumstances, quite frankly, that would compel our family to place our children in a public school.

I don't idolize homeschooling. It is a hard choice some days. I don't think it is easy and I don't think it solves the problem of sin. We deal with it every single day. *I* do not have the power to create Christians, and I don't expect my children to escape the snares of the world. I know that *homeschooling* is not going to save them. At the same time, homeschooling *is* a beautiful way to raise a family, build our unity, focus on our Savior, learn what is true. But at the end of the day, I know full well that I am a limited being--it is only my Savior that isn't.

This week has been better already. God moves in our hearts and directs our paths. I have had fruitful conversations with my children, played games, read God's word, and just enjoyed the hours we had together. I am so blessed! I am so grateful for this time with them. Who knows when it may end--but I don't want to lose another day to myself--I want to live it with them--to the glory of God.


Dana said...

You said it well. Homeschoool is a lifestyle not just an educational choice. That alone changes the lens of how we view our personnal time. I have to carve out time for me to renew .... and oh how I would love to fulfill the dream I had of running a marathon by 35. But in this lifestyle, that doesn't fit. And I have to be OK with that. We have to evaluate how we use our time in light of God's word. I truly believe, Mom's must take care of themsleves ..... I have gone to the extreme of giving to my family so much that I sacrificed my self, this body and mind that I was given to serve in. But there are extreme's which we could take in every direction. Good and bad. What are we taking too far that in and of itself glorifies God but we have turned into an idol of sorts because of our selfish desires? This is a topic for encouragement and/or admonition. Great to have over dark roast coffee. :)

Mommy2fourCs said...

I have never been to your blog before but I am so thankful I happened on you today. This was a wonderfully written post and one I am sure God planned for me to read. Thanks you for sharing yourself so well with me. You wrote things I needed to read.


Keri said...

Beautifully written!

We all need to be reminded to be selfless.

Plato's Republic is on my list too.

Kimmie said...

Letting go of self is so hard, I think it is a journey that takes a life time-then we die! (but the good news of course that as believers we live again!)

I need to remember to choose the road that is less of me and more of them (my present brood of 6) (present meaning we are beginning another adoption.)

Sometimes I feel that there is no more of me to give and that somehow I have dropped the joy somewhere during the days journey.

It is good to remember that we have choices and that if we put Him first, not "me" or "us" - that the joy will drip down and covering over our desires and reminding us of His goodness to us today.


JenIG said...

Kate, I *love* this post.

CTdittmar said...

and what a coincidence that I was just mulling over similar thoughts tonight myself...tonight's post sort of plays into this conversation. Check it out at my blog if you have a chance. Sometimes I can lose my joy in my sense of duty or feeling drowned in duties. But when I keep my focus on the Lord and serving Him, I remember the delights he has provided in the midst of the sacrifice, and His joy which is my strength. Thanks for writing so penetratingly. I love chewing on this sort of thing!

hugabunchmom said...

What a lot to take in. You captured so many of my thoughts in this blog entry, homeschooling is indeed a calling, like you, I just cannot imagine NOT doing it. I know I have some family that just doesn't understand it, but I know that for my husband and I, we will stand before God some day and HE has called us to homeschool...so how could I ever NOT? It just isn't an option. We would have to figure it out somehow if some unforeseen thing caused our lives to change...and as you said, God would work it out, it is in His plan for our family, and HE is in control. Praise GOD!!!

Aligirl said...

That was really good, and necessary for me to hear. I have been battling with the very thing you were talking about. selfishness and laziness. The whole family suffers and falls apart when we fail to die to ourselves daily. Thank you for your entry. I needed to hear that.


Peruvian Lily said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I didn't expect to see your comment there. :D

I did reply to it, by the way.

ChristineRead said...

I read with silent "amens" this post! Actually I may have said them out loud! I think these questions and struggles are inherent to our way of life. Christian mothers of large families who homeschool are going to have those good days and bad days with all the emotional, mental, physical and spiritual struggles that go with the life. Even moms with one child who choose this lifestyle are going to have those struggles. I view homeschooling as a tool to the raising up of our children. I view it the same way I view following Christ. In the same way that we are to "deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus" we make the daily effort to educate and disciple our children. Does this mean it is easy? Does this mean it is always fun? Does this mean it will not be difficlut sometimes? Of course not. Life itself is tough, whether you homeschool or not. When one chooses to marry, chooses to bear children, in a sense, you are asking for blessing but also trouble. We are in a war. Life can be incredibly rich, rewarding, joyful and full of blessing. But we will have trouble, too. Running away from the opportunity to homeschool is not going to make things better necessarily, because probably homeschooling is not the problem. It is something else that needs to be addressed. Homeschooling itself is not the "be all, end all" and it in itself has no guarentees. It is what you make it, by the grace of God. It, like everything else, has to be brought before the Lord, and through His grace, mercy and strength we can walk in obedience to Him and raise up our children to do the same. This to me is the essence of motherhood, and homeschooling is part of that.

I know there are practical ways to make the road more smooth. I am always looking for those practical ways that would benefit me and that I could share with others: everything from getting more sleep, to taking the right supplements, to simplifying life, to organization, etc. If anyone is having trouble in any area of life, go back to the drawing board and ask the Lord about it first! Oh, I am sorry to write so much in this comment, and I don't mean to get on a high horse, I just thought your post touched on a subject that most moms who homeschool deal with and I thought you did a masterful job!

spunky said...

Excellent questions from the initial writer and your response was spot on. Lots of food for thought as we all struggle to die to ourselves and live for Him.

ChristineRead said...

I love to drink coffee just the way you do! A really great coffee is Jim's Organic Sweet Love Blend which is described as "Our dark house blend, this combines dark with darker for ambrosian aroma and a deep smokey taste." If you go to our website (www.fairhillsfarm.com) under the Nurturing The Generations section, we have a picture of it. We don't sell anything, we just have it pictured because we buy it at Vitacost.com. But if you click the picture it takes you right to it. It is cheaper than I can get Starbucks at Walmart (I buy the beans and grind them). I really like this coffee, and I was so glad that I could get an organic one that was decently priced and tasted so good. Just thought you might like to know about it, if you didn't already!

Take care!


UndertheSky said...

Thank you all so much for such encouraging words to me. It helps me to remember too - when we encourage one another.



Nan said...

Well written Kate. I really appreciated what you had to say. I am always struggling to maintain a proper balance in all things. I know that I fail and fall short... thank God for repentance! I pray that he continues working change in me.

I definitely feel that I do not have to give up everything that gives me a sense of pleasure outside of motherhood/homeschooling though (not that you are saying that) in order to be doing my job in those realms. I just need to keep it in proper balance. If I want to pursue web design and my husband is supportive of the idea, I believe that I should go forward with it but not if it means that I will spend 7 daylight hours a day staring at the computer rather than teaching my children or being otherwise productive. It's not that it's an unholy pursuit but that if it gets in the way of my responsibilities, I then have a problem.

And I confess that the computer is my main temptation which tends to ensnare me.... "Oh wretched woman that I am..."

I wasn't on the boards at the time of that discussion but I really did appreciate this post Kate. Thanks for your insight.