On Work and Purpose
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.”Colossians 3:23
Homeschooling is a calling, but anything you do in life is a calling, if you are set on following God’s good will. I know there are many days I want human affirmation for all my hard work and planning, and get frustrated when I do not get it from certain people in my immediate family. I also find myself looking at my work as my own work, done in my own strength. Either approach is a pitfall for any of us! We cannot become so entrenched in our own striving and agendas that we get lost completely and lose sight of God’s best for us.
The paradox is this: The easiest road is the hardest road. It seems easy to jump to the conclusion that we are alone with the kids all day, laboring, meeting frustrations, experiencing moments of wonder, or just doing the mundane tasks of home, and we are doing this all in our own strength. In reality, this is the most harmful, ultimately the hardest, road [to think we are all alone]. Yet, we are not alone. God is always with us, and it would be wise to remember that. Instead of losing my cool with the minions (or shall I say little despots), I can pause and pray. It can be a prayer together with the kids, asking Him desperately for help in the moment. Or, it can be a prayer behind closed doors, when I need a true break from everyone. God is worthy of prayer and recognition in the fine details of life, as well as in the grand planning and events of life. A friend of mine brought this to my attention a few months ago. She was telling me of how she just stops what she and the kids are doing and they pray to God the Father for the Holy Spirit’s help. He is the true Helper.
Seeing God’s work in the minutia is where I struggle. Nonetheless, it is in these moments that we find the components of a life. There are multiple quotes from wise people on this truth. Maybe it’s also in the grand planning of a school year where I neglect to truly seek God’s will, also.
Before the planning of a school year, do you pray for God to show you where each child is going, what virtues He wants to help cultivate in each child, hence informing our instructional goals? I am not sure I have made this an intentional practice. I am starting to understand how planning a school year for one child looks. I am about to find out what planning a school year for two children will look like, and I have started down this path already. Before I begin planning out the minutia, I want to pray for the entire year. As is my custom, I will divide up the year into 4 terms. What I need to do differently is to plan about one month to 6 weeks at a time, because kids change about every month. While I might have some idea of the trajectory of each of the four terms, I only know at the beginning of each term what character traits I’d like to focus on at that moment, in that season. Each month, I will reevaluate. Is there more work to be done in this particular character trait for this particular child, or has the habit been established? Working on habits requires 1) Prayer 2)Submission to what is not comfortable AND 3)Faithfulness. This takes the focus off of MYSELF and puts it back where it belongs. God sees the work. He ordains the work, and guides me in the work. He knows my children. He has allowed me to be their mother. Therefore, I know it is His will that I find out what He wants me to plan for them each day, month, term and year. It is His work, and I am thankful to be a part of it!
I recently read a quote that summarizes why we have chosen to homeschool. “I don’t educate my children at home to do school with them, I homeschool so I can do life with them,” (anonymous). If I can get my kids in the morning, when they are at their very best, that is a gift I don’t want to waste. I am very thankful to be able to spend time with them when they are at their best. This doesn’t mean they will always be at their best. Also, it doesn’t mean I send them to someone else in the afternoons, when they are not necessarily at their best. But I do get a glimpse of what doing life with them looks like, when they are fresh and ready to do life with me.
Shocker: did you know that academics are not the most important part of a childhood? Let that sink in. It’s not that academics are not important, but it’s that the relational aspect of an education is so important. You have your kids for a mere season. Use it wisely. Enjoy that time with them. Go to a park and lie down on a picnic blanket. Look at the clouds. Have those good conversations in the car (they usually happen in the mundane moments). It will not be long, and they will be the ones standing in the place you occupy right now. I love my children and want to soak in the goodness that God has invited me to notice. I want to see God working in their hearts. I want to hear their innermost thoughts through good conversation, and mentor them through this season God has given me. That is my desire.