A Year End Disappointment
I had one of those days again last week . . . the kind that made me second guess myself as the chief educator in our home. It was one of those days when I felt the wave of discouragement wash over me and leave me battered and bruised. It all started with a simple writing and math lesson for two of my precious children. With good attitudes they worked hard at their studies, but as they submitted their lessons to me for review, my heart sank.
I had recently looked over my yearly goals for our children, and it was grade time for mama. Here we were, nearly a year later, and I felt we were still struggling with the same points. "Lord," I thought, "I've failed. They can't spell any better today, or add any better. What am I doing wrong?"
Almost instantly I recognized this sinking feeling. It seems to come at the end of a school year, as I evaluate myself and my children students fairly severely. Every year, the Lord reminds me in His still quiet way to hush . . . not to speak, but just to listen. We put the school books away and loaded up into the van to rush off to piano lessons. My heart aching, I poured out my sorrows and fears in silent prayer while the back seats bounced with giggles and wiggles.
As homeschooling parents we know where the buck stops. We understand that we will not be able to blame the school system for giving our kids a shoddy education, nor the bad influence of others for a wayward bent. That is a lot of responsibility, but it is the responsibility that God gave us the day our children were born. Most of our peers have abdicated their job. They don't fret over the things we do; they expect the professionals to take care of it. It can feel lonely and isolating at times as we look for answers from God and not a peer review board at a P.T.A. meeting.
Discouragement can be a real part of the battle we fight as we homeschool our children. Am I doing enough? Should I do something different? How much am I missing? We shouldn't be surprised when the wave crashes. Our enemy isn't going to lie down and not fight us on this issue. We know that a main battle ground in our culture is our families. So of course the accuser - our enemy - is going to throw our failures, real or otherwise, up into our faces.
I'm so glad God taught me the lesson "to be still" when this wave of discouragement comes. Because I chose silence and sought the counsel of the Supreme Teacher and Encourager, I was able to hear the messages He sent in the next few days.
First the piano teacher noted that a major break through had occurred in a persistent little boy to whom music does not always come easily. Diligence had paid off. Later that afternoon a total stranger approached me after she had watched my brood interact with a room full of rowdy youngsters at a local pizza place. She complimented my family, especially the teen boy, for their kindness and gentleness. "You don't see that anymore," she said. Compassion and tenderness were commended.
The next day a story was shared about my little gospel sharing daughter who boldly told the truth the way it was. Courage and strength to defend the faith was noted. A bell suddenly went off in my head.
You see my list of goals for my children do not only include academics. They also include any number of life skills and Godly character traits my husband and I feel led to work toward. God in His goodness chose to show me through the words of total strangers and fellow co-laborers (a.k.a. homeschool buddies) that God had done an amazing work in my children this year.
The very words I had written about a year before were displayed in their lives. I had focused on the academics, but God was working on the character in both my children and myself. The cloud of discouragement lifted.
Dick Karman said during a Family Discipleship Day in April, "It is the series of faithful steps that build strands that make a bridge to support a faithful Godly life." How true this is. Daily small steps in faithfully educating our children will pay off. We may not see them as clearly up close, but one day the big picture will emerge. God had shared with me just a snippet of the portrait He is creating in our family. I was so blessed.
The following Monday the struggling speller was much improved and the math facts seemed to stick much better for the bubbly girl. To God be the glory!