This post in the homeschooling series has sat as a rough draft for 6 months. Good grief! I’m so sorry for the inconsistency… life has been busy and this post is kinda heavy.
In my life, busy + heavy = procrastination.
I suppose slow progress is better than no progress. ; )
Let me begin by saying that we wouldn’t change the path we’ve chosen for our family for ANYTHING, but there have been serious dangers along the way. That’s just life though, right? That shouldn’t hold us back from our convictions. The important thing is that we’re as aware as possible of dangers.
If you choose to homeschool mainly for religious reasons as we did, one of the biggest dangers I’ve found is living in extremes & losing sight of Jesus. Of course, you don’t have to be a homeschooler to end up there, but since we tend to be a very passionate breed, it seems to go with the territory.
I mean, you’ve got to have some serious fire in you to take on the education of your children, right? …especially if you’re starting from ground zero. This is no cakewalk; this is IronMan. It’s enjoyable, but it’s challenging in every possible way. Oh yes, strong convictions drive these folks, and sometimes — right off the rails on a crazy train!
My husband and I began homeschooling for good reasons. We wanted to raise the healthiest possible children we could; not simply their minds, but their hearts and their hands as well. We wanted things to be different for them than they had been for us. We both came from broken homes and seriously lacked the support we needed to grow into emotionally and spiritually healthy adults. We also wanted to make sure that they wouldn’t be so exposed to all the evil in the world that we were.
Somewhere along the way, trying to eliminate the dangers of evil became the biggest danger.
I’m reminded of people who get on a health kick — they begin by eliminating sugar or gluten… and they get good results. So, they eliminate something else, then something else, then something else… until the only thing driving their thinking and life is fear and avoidance. When you see them, they describe their latest discovery of toxins with bulging eyeballs and tend to be extremely judgmental about others who partake in something they no longer touch. They go on and on about how great life is eating “clean”, but are clearly unable to enjoy much of anything. It may have an appearance of health, but if it’s motivated by fear and results in the condemnation of others, it’s got BONDAGE written all over it. Yikes.
I’m not opposed to eating healthy, but I am opposed to becoming obsessed about anything. It eventually turns good things, bad. Obsession is driven by fear, which turns out to be one of the most detrimental things to our health and well-being. Yep. The fear of a thing can be far, far worse than the thing itself.
This obsessive pattern can become a way of life for homeschooling parents. Our passion seems to be used against us, leading us to shift our focus away from Jesus to watch the Enemy. Out of fear, we may begin isolating ourselves and our children behind a barricade that we can control. We may live as though our mission in life is to avoid and/or seek and destroy all that is wrong with the world. Sadly, the result is a life motivated by fear that seeks to destroy us!
“Do not be excessively righteous and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself? Do not be excessively wicked and do not be a fool. Why should you die before your time? It is good that you grasp one thing and also not let go of the other; for the one who fears God comes forth with both of them.” Ecclesiastes 7:16-18
Excessive wickedness is an easy extreme to spot, but being overly righteous, overly wise? Not so much. It looks pretty darn good, especially to those sincerely wanting to do right. But over time, the fruit of it begins to show…
By shifting our focus from Jesus to the evils all around, we may unwittingly teach our children (and ourselves) to fear the culture/man — to keep isolating ourselves. If that isn’t bad enough, these habits will also lead them to believe that we need saving from the sin around us rather than the sin already in us!
I don’t want them to be afraid of anything in or of this world, not even the evil inside them, but to know that God is greater than all. I want them to learn to make good, healthy choices right in the thick of it, and when they fail, I want them to see Jesus still loving them.
I want them to love Jesus and the people Jesus loves, not shut them out. This is not to say that there aren’t occasions that they may have to separate from people. Oh yes, they WILL have to do this in some situations, but it’s a salvation mission, not a seek & destroy mission. There will be times when they have to straight RUN from evil, but overall, fear should decrease and the landscape of people that God wants to save should increase.
For God so loved the world… that’s homeschool teachers and public school teachers; homeschooled children and public schooled children; people from solid homes and people from broken homes; conservatives and liberals; rich and poor, and everything in between — that’s not to say that God won’t judge sin, but if our own learning shuts people out and makes us arrogant, that itself is sin.
What can we do to avoid living in extremes?
Look at Jesus ~ full of grace and truth
We shift our focus away from the evils all around and fix our eyes back on Jesus – our only hope. Isn’t that what we want our children to do? They need to see US doing that. This healthy habit will cast out fear and stop us from running to extremes.
Our hope is not in this method or that method of doing home, church, school or government. Our hope is in Jesus period. When we’re looking at Him, we’ll see people through His eyes (especially ourselves). Our tendency to fear and condemn will transform into grace and truth (especially toward ourselves). We’ll truly love our neighbor as ourselves.
Fear will still strike us, but we don’t need to fear the fear. It’s just an indicator — a warning flag — an opportunity to get honest with God and examine ourselves. He’ll show us just what we need to know. It may be nothing but Himself and odd as it may sound, that is more than enough.
Of course, we want to make the best choices for our families, but if everything we’ve carefully constructed should collapse tomorrow, God will still be on the throne. At the end of it all, what we did with Jesus is all that matters. Did we lift Him up?
Learn From Others
We have different backgrounds and abilities and positions. We can learn so much from one another if we trust that God is leading each of us in the way that we should go. We won’t all look the same and I am so glad. One of my favorite sayings is from the poem, The Task, written by William Cowper:
“Variety is the very spice of life, that gives it all it’s flavor.”
I couldn’t agree more and would simply add:
“Taste and see that the Lord is good! How blessed is the person who trusts in Him!” -Psalm 34:8
- Successes & Failures
We should share our honest experiences along the way. Not just our successes, but our failures. I’m leery of anyone who is resistant to discuss their failures. God doesn’t save us for us to stay the way we are, but He also doesn’t expect us to quit needing Him or one another.
A perfect example is the Homeschooling In Real Life podcast — a favorite of mine on this topic. Andy & Kendra Fletcher are homeschooling veterans. They cover every facet of the journey, including all the things many don’t want to talk about. It’s been a continual source of encouragement for me!
If you have a question or concern, they’ve probably covered it, but if you catch nothing else, I pray you’ll listen to their own testimony of living in extremes and losing Jesus: Losing Our Religion Please don’t miss it!!
We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive. -C. S. Lewis
- Never stop learning
I’d love to know your thoughts — your agreements, your disagreements, your suggestions — we’re in this together! I’m so glad to know that God’s grace covers all of our wandering. He knows that we are learning. When our child fails, we don’t berate them for mistakes, we lovingly help them. That’s what our Teacher does for us. All this time and effort we spend trying to lead our kids, God is actually leading us… and it’s always back to Himself.
Making imperfect progress with you, friends
In life, faith & art ~ Jamie
Other posts in this series: