God has been teaching me something very important this year as I’ve started homeschooling my five-year-old daughter, Anna, who is in kindergarten. My husband and I know that different schooling options are right for different families, and we made this decision together, but no matter how long we talked, the decision caused much angst for me.
I was fearful that my decision would be viewed as an indictment on other people who do not make similar decisions. But there was also fear of another kind: fear that I would mess up my child’s life somehow or that, single-handedly due to this decision, my child would never develop social skills or truly advance academically. These fears were fed by stereotypes I heard about that created fear in me. And then comes the worst fear of all: that I would look like a failure in all of it. So when we decided that we would try out this educational route this year, I began to experience a sense of dread–dread that I’d royally fall flat on my face, not measure up, and be scoffed at for even trying.
But something became very clear to me recently–thank you, God!–and this realization has helped me tremendously. I discovered that my anxiety was stemming from my obsession to appear successful and put together and admirable and great! Almost nothing about my stress stemmed from concern for my daughter’s actual well being. Sadly, it was all about my image.
In this experience, God has been graciously showing me my pride. Without realizing it, I had started putting expectations on Anna which were making me (and probably her) miserable. I assumed that she would learn to read quickly. I assumed that she would excel at counting into the twenties, thirties… hundreds! I assumed she would master geographical locations on a map. And why did I want her to do these things? Because it would make me look good. “Happy,” I imagined people saying, “I really had my doubts about your choice to homeschool, but look at the child PRODIGY you’re raising! She’s brilliant, thanks to your natural knack for teaching. You must be doing something right! Well done, YOU!” This isn’t something anyone said to me. It’s the praise I imagine in my head. (Obviously.)
Slowly but surely God is helping me to identify that desire in my heart, that ravenous craving to meet the approval of my peers. Even if I raise a girl who can’t read for a while, even if she needs assistance in counting, even if she struggles or experiences challenges, it is okay. And she is worth loving and cherishing every minute of that process. In any schooling option, all the children ought to be loved, whether they’re the future valedictorians, the struggling learners, or the “average” right in between. Nobody becomes more or less precious because of the age at which they learn to read. She is learning. I am learning. And I do not need to obsess over proving myself to any and everyone. My pride is not a beast worth feeding; in fact, it will destroy me. When my goal is to please man and to disregard God, I have veered off course.
No person will ever ever ever give me that approval I’m looking for. I will never be able to be the world’s best daughter, sister, aunt, wife, mother, teacher. I can try my best but that’s all I can do. I have already been created and sought and treasured by God himself. He loves me. I’ve made dumb and wicked decisions in my day. He loves me. I have sinned against Him and so many people I love. Yet He loves me. I have scorned Him, not trusted Him, and have flat out reveled in my rebellion. Yet He loves me. Jesus died for me though I am completely undeserving.
I am precious in His sight, and may that always be enough for me! Thank you, Lord, that I never have to worry about measuring up. I don’t need to be awarded the “World’s Best Mom Whose Kid Is a Genius and Who Never Made Any Parenting Mistakes” trophy. I know my girl and I will try hard to educate her in a loving environment. I will try to make it fun for her. I’ll try to listen to her and understand her. But I will fail a lot. And she will not always impress me. She won’t understand certain topics the first go around or maybe even the second or third. I won’t like everything we are studying, and she won’t either. By God’s grace, I am beginning to think that that’s okay.
God is teaching me this lesson through homeschooling, but he may be teaching you through your public school or your place of employment. What I learned is I will never measure up to a standard of perfection, but Jesus does, and that’s all I need. I am not perfect, but Jesus is perfect. He died so that I do not have to die. He is my Lord and loving savior, and I hope to instill THIS lesson in my daughter’s life, as this is one of the lessons that truly counts.