When my husband and I started talking about homeschooling our children, we knew, for our family, it was the only choice. I felt a strange, peaceful sense of, “I can DO this, God! You’ve led us here for such a time as this and I KNOW we can DO this!” But in the same moment I had a bout of sheer panic when I realized that I didn’t know HOW to do it or even where to start.
Enter: Some well-timed grace.
Thank the Good Lord for my dear friend, Alison, who agreed to meet with me and talk all things homeschooling. Little did she know, I was going to fire questions at her Howitzer-style for the next 2 ½ hours. Woman of grace that she is, she took it all in humble, patient, soothing stride. God used her to assuage my fears, calm my nerves, and remind me that I don’t have to be EVERYTHING to my kids. I just have to be the one who loves them best next to Jesus Christ. And in loving them best I can help them learn in ways that a teacher who doesn’t truly know their nature or their character cannot. And because love also includes discipline, I can help shape their hearts and minds to yearn for, seek after, and aspire to become more like Christ.
I will never forget what my dear friend told me as we were parting ways:
God’s grace would cover my every mistake as a home school mama, just as it always has as a “regular” mama…if there is such a thing.
"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9
I left that conversation feeling grounded, focused and inspired, all because someone chose to share with me in grace.
I look back sometimes on that conversation with my dear friend, and I wonder...
Would things have gone differently had I talked to somebody else; somebody lacking in grace? Would they have made me more nervous? Would they have tried to get me to sign up for their particular genre of homeschooling? Would they have made me feel guilty or like a less-than mom if I said I wanted to go a different direction than what their family chose? Would I have remembered the most important things and kept them in the forefront if Alison hadn’t helped me set my gaze on Christ?
She was the embodiment of humility and grace that day…talking openly about her children’s struggles and strengths, as well as her own. She shared the hardships that homeschooling can bring, but also the absolute joy of being WITH your children, watching them grow, seeing the spark of learning and learning in their eyes.
Sadly though, a humble encounter is usually the exception to the norm amongst moms, especially with regards to homeschooling. People can get surly when they believe the whole world should hear their opinion.
I heard a conversation a few months back between two homeschooling moms. I was just in the background mind you…a fly on the wall. But what I heard was utterly disheartening. One homeschooling mother was telling the other (who happens to be a friend of mine) how amazing her kids are. One was several grades ahead of schedule, another was a monster in the world of music, and her third was still figuring things out but had high hopes of an engineering career sometime in the not-so-distant future. I had no idea who this woman was, but I knew my friend. And I knew she struggles.
She friend struggles like we all do to manage multiple Littles while teaching the Bigs. She struggles like we all do with time-management. She struggles with knowing whether she’s doing “it” right or doing “enough” for her children. And when the boasting started, I could see my friend mentally shutting down. Now, please don’t get me wrong, it is WONDERFUL when our children do well and excel. We needn’t hide that—from anyone! But the MANNER in which we share is often the problem. It wasn’t so much what this proud mom was saying, but rather, how she was choosing to say it...like she had something to prove...like she wanted anyone within earshot to know that her kids were just.plain.better.
So this, fellow homeschooling mamas, is a call to grace.
We live in a time when absolutely everyone shares their opinions freely and openly. I know it is difficult to hold back….to “not say”….to roll your thoughts around in your head for a day or two before you post them or say them for the world to see and hear. But this is exactly what I believe so many moms need. They need well-thought-out, grace-filled words of comfort and, yes, even sometimes warning.
A friend of mine once told me she was trying to get herself into the habit of “tasting” her words twice before spitting them out. Because...
"...out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." Luke 6:45
She wanted to make sure that she was speaking life out of her heart!
I, too, want to build up, not tear down. I want to encourage, not fluster. But this takes an awful lot of intentionality on my part. It takes a lot of me humbling myself and not venting my every thought (even thoughts I think are pretty darn good). Because I just never know what my words are doing to the hearts and minds of those who are listening and how those words can affect someone else for years and years to come.
So choose to speak life! Choose to speak grace! You’ll always be glad that you did…and so will those around you.
Krista Smith is the adoring wife to an amazing man and together they have three beautiful children (two biological, one adopted from Japan). Krista is privileged to homeschool them using an eclectic variety of methods. She has a deep and abiding love for Coke, tan-colored coffee, Star Wars and all things Lord of the Rings (the family minivan’s license plate may even be in elvish. Nerd. Just sayin’). But above all of these things, Krista is, first and foremost, a lover and follower of Jesus Christ! So, may the Lord and His Gospel get every ounce of honor and glory and credit for anything she writes, says or does.