When we were kids we didn’t know the names for the dysfunctions that were evident in the homes of those we knew and loved. Relatives, neighbors and friends seemed to each have their own unique issues in their homes. We accepted them as part of life, tiptoeing when necessary, jumping through hoops to keep peace, or avoiding them altogether. I had a truly unique situation. My best friend seemed to be from the most truly “functional” family I had ever witnessed. Her family was a sharp contrast to my own.
I understand now that there were many such scenes across America that morning, but this was surreal to me. My own parents were much less “hands on,” and I marveled at the attention these kids got, every single day. I didn’t envy it because it was so foreign, a little like escargot to me. But it fascinated me. My friend didn’t give it a second thought, because that’s all she knew.
Until I dealt with my insecurities, I was doomed.
Homeschoolers are intensely interested in every aspect of family life. They strive so that every facet of their children’s upbringing is optimized, from diets, to learning styles, to gift development. It can be rough finding your way when your childhood was the complete opposite, one in which the system was expected to cover most of it, and parents nonchalantly left it to that system.
I was into homeschooling well over a decade before I realized that God was ok with me doing my best, even if those around me found plenty to criticize. Yes, even God-honoring peers and family can be rough on you. Even recently people have made comments implicating their shock that my children, each of whom had struggles that validated the imperfection of our human condition, have done well. It can be very upsetting. That’s until you remember that it’s ALL God’s grace, and any success should stimulate thanksgiving, not pride.
My memories were washed with a flood of grace.
Then one day, I realized that I was being judged by many people for my choices. They did not have all of the information that I had, but in their naive eyes, we were being held responsible for things beyond our control that they didn’t see. Then I realized that I had done the same thing my whole life regarding my parents. My memories were washed with a flood of grace.
Can you truly honor someone and wrestle with that honor’s authenticity? Yes, you can. Proverbs 3:27 says, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.” The 5th Commandment doesn’t have conditions. It says, ”Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” (Exodus 6:12)
So much of what we regret and have been angry about ultimately really doesn’t matter.
The further away I get from childhood and sugar-filled bowls of cereal gulped down as the bus approached our home (sans vitamins and nutrition), the more I remember the blessings of that very same childhood. Scripture tells us to think about the good things;
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.”–Philippians 4:8
“Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.”
The pendulum swings. Did I try to provide my kids with the very opposite family and childhood experiences than I had? Absolutely. In many ways, it succeeded. But in many other ways, life got in and tarnished the shiny perfection into which I poured my heart and soul. Homeschoolers are accused of sheltering their kids. I tried. It didn’t work.
Forgiveness always frees us.
When all is said and done, anything good that happened in my life, from childhood until this moment, was due to God’s grace;
“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
As I’ve fretted over their college choices, their medical tests and their daily attitude fluctuations, God has reminded me that He has them covered, just like He has had me covered. If “the best I can with what I have” is good enough for God, then it’s good enough for me. My prayer is that my kid’s, and yours, live in the freedom of knowing that, even now, before they have children of their own. May they all grow in His grace.