In the previous post, I explained that the main reason why we’ve chosen to homeschool our sons is to help them develop good character. That can mean totally different things to different people. We don’t believe that “good character” means we’re perfect — not even close. It’s simply a life of honesty, obedience and faith — being well acquainted with who we are and whose we are.
Our character flows from our identity
We all go through some degree of identity crisis — in life and faith. It’s just part of growing up. Since we don’t get to choose the circumstances we’re born into or the choices made for us when we’re young, the crisis can be severe — even painfully long-lasting. At some point, however, we do get to choose who we will be. The sooner we resolve the crisis and mature — the better.
We’re born with a good deal of our personality and tendencies, but plenty of counsel suggests that who we become has a lot to do with our environment. God’s Word says: “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33) There are several other warnings in scripture not to be closely associated with certain harmful types of people, as we’ll become like them. The same advice is given in secular circles —
“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” -Jim Rohn, American Entrepreneur
It’s sobering to realize that WE can be among the harmful influences to our children, or that our own family members can (and do) work against what is right and true, yet knowing that fact and continually dealing with it makes all the difference.
We want to pass our beliefs and values on to our sons, but we also want them to be as free as possible to develop into their own unique identities. It’s difficult to discover our own likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, gifts and abilities, if we’re constantly manipulated by harmful influences — those within us, those in the world and those that can be in our own homes. We have to be alert to all of these influences (good and bad), and equipped to deal with them, which only comes through continual discipline.
“More is caught than taught.”
The Wright Story…
Our 12-year-old son, Samuel, dreams of flying. We’ve checked out stacks of books from our library on the invention of flight — but only one of them has captivated him: The Wright Brothers by David McCullough. I’m not even reading it, but it’s also captivating me — through Samuel, who is a natural reporter. Whatever he hears, sees, reads — he tells.
I sat on the front porch with him the other day as he was reading their story to himself. He closed the book with his finger holding his place about halfway through, smiled wide and I knew I was about to hear their latest experiences — but it was even better. Instead, I heard Samuel’s reflections…
“You know, I didn’t really like the other books we got from the library about the Wright brothers because they all began with their invention — but this book tells me who they were.”
It was a moment that greatly encouraged this mama who is hoping she’s doing the right thing. I knew exactly what Samuel was saying. It meant so much more to him to walk closely in a kind of relationship with these men — not just dropping in on their highlights and achievements, but walking through the trials of what it took to get there. He’d gotten to know about their early life, the character of their father, their many struggles and failures — their own character.
I remember the day he reported to me that they had made history. It was as if the first flight had just happened — so much more meaningful to him because he’d somewhat shared in the journey — filled with ups, downs, twists and turns. Their invention accomplished a few seconds of flight, but hearts are still soaring from their story — all of it. It’s not only about flight — but humility, confidence and perseverance.
I realize that our own journey is not unlike the Wright brothers’. We’re not trying to build flying machines, but we are trying to build honest, courageous leaders who use their strength, abilities and authority to lift others up.
They’re learning from our story — all of it — not so much the public presentation, but the private one. They see selflessness or selfishness, respect or disrespect, gentleness or harshness, truth or lies, purity or perversion, humility or arrogance. They see us succeed and they also see us crash and burn. When they reflect on our lives, what will they conclude about us?
Our hope and prayer is that they’ll know who we are — better still, whose we are. We look to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We love because He first loved us. We fail, but He provides the grace, strength and forgiveness we need for all of our weaknesses, anxieties and failures. When we succeed, we give thanks to Him. When we crash and burn, we ask for forgiveness, get up and try again. We give thanks even for the failures, trusting that He’s working it all together for our good. In Him, we gain humility, confidence and strength to persevere.
“…but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” -Isaiah 40:31
The more we grow in our own identity in the Lord, the more we respect and value the unique identity of others — the better leaders we become. In this way, we hope to help our sons mature into all that God designed them to be. This doesn’t much happen through lessons, but through living.
Whatever you do — do it with all your might, for God’s glory. You are eternally loved, wonderfully unique and His.
In life, faith & art ~ Jamie
An Honest Look Inside Homeschooling (previous posts)