I wasn’t baptized until after I was married. I knew who Jesus was, and I knew I wanted him in my life and in our marriage, but I was unsure of what that looked like or how to start that relationship. I remember being baptized with my husband by my side. I remember taking communion at the service and feeling a sense of guilt and questioning myself. “Should I be taking communion? Isn’t there a class I have to take before this?” And I remember afterwards walking into the reception hall at our church and one woman in particular asking me “So you don’t have to do Sunday school or Bible study?” And right there, the feelings of unworthiness came over me. Already I felt like I was doing “it” wrong. Like there was a step-by-step process to be a Christian and someone forgot to slip me a program so I could follow along.
Homeschooling has been a lot like that first experience for me. This daunting task of knowing what you want, but not sure how to take those first steps and feeling like you’re doing “it” wrong. Here’s the path we were supposed to follow. Here’s the hymns we sing, the Bible verses we read, the worksheets and curriculum we complete, the motions we go through. But I lacked that emotional connection to educating my sons just as I did when I was introduced to Christ. I was missing the relationship. I was still just a follower of the program, checking the box and getting nowhere. One of my favorite influencers is Gary Thomas and a book he wrote, Sacred Marriage. Hubby actually got me this book one year when I was struggling and resentful of him being gone for so long. My favorite quote from this book literally changed me. He says that we find meaning by “recognizing that He is the one who alone can fill the spiritual ache in our souls. We can work at making our home life more pleasant and peaceable…we can make superficial changes that will preserve at least the appearance of respect and politeness. But what both of us crave more than anything else is to be intimately close to the God who made us. If that relationship is right, we won’t make such severe demands on our marriage, asking each other, expecting each other, to compensate for spiritual emptiness….We need to remind ourselves of the ridiculousness of looking for something from other humans that only God can provide.” This is what I ached for. I had a spiritual emptiness and before, I misunderstood what a marriage and being a Christian was there to provide and my feelings of resentment were misguided. With these words, I started to learn that my walk with Christ would start with those He gave the tools to inspire.
Brene Brown, in her book Daring Greatly says “Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, it’s understanding the necessity of both; it’s engaging. It’s being all in.” And I thought, engagement and vulnerability absolutely defines the characteristics of being a Christian and a homeschool mom. For example, (and I know it’s silly) but I’ve always been intimidated to join a Bible study group because what if they asked me a question about the Bible? I don’t know all the answers! For the same reason, I felt the weight of homeschooling on my shoulders because in my head, I had to know all the answers. I had to be prepared. I had to work out the curriculum plan for kindergarten through senior year on top of figuring out what character traits I wanted to teach my sons and what values I wanted to place importance on. Let me tell you how daunting that felt. My walk with Christ has taught me that it’s not about waiting until I’m perfect, or until I’ve researched all the answers for me to step out. It’s being vulnerable to the journey and humble in its failures. It’s a walk with many missteps, but I promise you at the end of the day it’s still a walk forward. You’re still a few feet ahead of where you were yesterday and before you know it you’re looking back at the huge accomplishment that was your 2nd year of homeschooling. Keep taking steps forward. Relationships need engagement. Homeschooling is a relationship in life learning and take comfort knowing your job as a home educator is to engage, not to answer. Start somewhere and go all in knowing you will be defeated at times. You will find what works and what doesn’t not based on what others say, but by what you feel and what you are called to do. Homeschooling will not look conventional. Have faith that you are worthy of the journey and capable of the task. My path will look different than yours. I’m still amazed at where it is leading us. I am not a teacher. I am a student, thirsty and walking the path with my soon to be 2nd grader and Kindergartner and discovering a love of learning I never knew existed in me.
I am enough.
Cheers to the end of 1st grade!