Sep 4, 2012

Mercy

I have the joy and privilege of homeschooling again.  This time it is Chloe.  She requested near the end of last year that I homeschool her saying the public school was "too easy" and that she wanted to "learn the hard stuff".  She loved being at school; loved her teachers; enjoyed the friends she had made.  I didn't quite take her seriously.  I thought it would pass.  But it didn't.  She insisted that she be homeschooled (again).

I prayed long and hard about it.  Part of me was excited the other part of me scared to death.  I was really enjoying being just "mom" and not wearing the "teacher" hat as well this past school year.  That was something that had begun to weigh heavily on me over my 7 years as a homeschool mom.  But I also felt oddly out of place - home alone.  I looked for all types of things to fill my time.  Volunteering took up a good 3 days.  The other two days were full of depression and loneliness.  I had an empty nest and I had no clue what to do with it.

It took me a good year to just let go of all my expectations of myself.  To learn to just rest - to let myself rest.  To realize I wasn't what I do; I am who I am no matter what I am doing or not doing.  I can't believe I had to learn that lesson all over again, but I did.  It was humbling, yet beautiful.  I would do it all over again to be where God has me right now.

So, I found it very odd that after I had just come to peace with being alone all day and not "doing" anything, that God would have me jump back into homeschooling.  I enjoyed helping out at the kids' school.  I enjoyed all my volunteer jobs.  I finally found some purpose and now I had to give that up to go back to homeschooling?  Am I crazy?  Apparently.

Sometimes what God asks us to do doesn't make sense...now.  Later in life we might have the opportunity to understand.  Or maybe we'll never understand. Either way, I have learned that following the peace He gives me when I know I'm on the path He's directing me down is the best place to be - even when it doesn't make sense.

But I had a lot of homeschool demons to deal with.  I forever felt inadequate, like Moses felt speaking to Pharoh.  I always felt I wasn't the 'right' teacher for my kids...that they needed this or that type of person.  Not me.  I'm way too intense.  I'm way too organized.  I have very high expectations.  I'm strict.  I'm not a fun teacher.  Funny how the emphasis is always on me.  Kind of ironic actually.  I'm supposed to be doing this for my child and all I can think of is me?  If God told me to do this, He's going to enable me to do it through His power, not my own.  How about I try again this time, but with the proper focus?

Then my other fear struck...the parent one.  Chloe and I seem to be at odds a lot.  She likes to listen to everyone but me.  She argues with me...alot.  She cries whenever I ask her to do anything.  She manipulates her way into or out of anything.  Some days I don't feel strong enough to be the parent.  If I can't make her keep her room picked up, how can I make her learn her times tables.  If I can't be sure she's putting her clothes away and not shoving them under her bed, why would she listen to me while I'm explaining her history lesson?

This was weighing heavily on me the eve before school began.  Then I decided to "give it to God" - something I should have done before I let all the worries take root in my mind and heart.  When I told God that I was really needing Him to show me what to do and how to handle this, He spoke one phrase to me, "Mercy triumphs over judgement".  My heart dropped to my stomach.  I guess I wasn't really expecting an answer...a nice warm feeling maybe, a peace to wash over me, my anxiety to leave...but an honest to goodness answer - wow!

I knew immediately what He meant.  I can be a stickler that her room is always in perfect order.  I can demand her desk be pristine each and every day.  I can huff and puff and shake my head when she accidentally 'forgets' to do as I've asked her.  I can 'create' the 'perfect' listening robot of a child.  My judgment will make sure of that.  The way I judge her actions will speak louder to her than any other lesson I am trying to teach her.  She will only feel criticized.  She will feel that what she does is more important than who she is.  She will associate love as conditional upon proper behavior.  That is not what I want to teach!  I want mercy to triumph over judgment.  Everyone changes (eventually) when treated mercifully.  The mercy in my words, demeanor and actions will do more to change her heart and her future than my harshness with one more mistake on her part.  She'll live in fear of my judgement and change only out of fear.  If I treat her with mercy, she will become merciful.  That is what I want my daughter to grow up to be.

Now that I had my 'lesson plan' I was excited to start.  The only thing about this new lesson plan is that it keeps me humbled before my Savior moment by moment.  I can still follow the lesson plan I spent all summer preparing so that her studies go well.  But I sense the bigger picture, the whole reason God prompted her to want this time with me all along was not for a better education, but for time together, nurturing her heart and growing in it mercy and compassion.

As of late, time seems to be flowing like a raging river.  Where did the years go when they were all in diapers and my biggest challenge was getting everyone down for naps on time?  How did that little stream suddenly evolve into the speedy Colorado River?  Are there any falls up ahead?  Does time ever go back to a simple trickle of a gentle stream?  Since I don't know those answers, I'm going to make the most of every precious day I get with my amazing daughter.  I'm going to pour love and wisdom and mercy into her and cherish each amazing day.

God spoke those words to me just in time.  How I wished I would have heard them sooner.
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