I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately my out-of-proportion sadness about sending my children to school and I’ve come to the conclusion that it isn’t about school at all. It’s about The Plan and faith and all about how things are supposed to work out. As a Christian I have this belief buried in my mind somewhere that if I do the right thing, if I step out in faith, if I follow God’s lead, things will work out. And by “work out” what I really mean is “work out happily ever after”. And not just “happily ever after” but Happily Ever After According to Renee’s Plan. I somehow cling to this belief that as long as I do the “right” thing, even if it is hard, things will “work out” in the end as if this is a Lifetime movie and not actual life.
I’ll confess…my dream for years has been to have the Perfect Homeschool Family. We did well, really well for a while (if I do say so myself). We dove into unit studies and raised tadpoles and butchered chickens. My older children know how to bake bread and biscuits and cake from scratch. Most of my kids know how to knit, several can sew. Our children were well-behaved, respectful and wore matching clothes.
All of that was before. Before the arrival of an adorable boy with a not-quite-perfect heart. Before my life was overrun the doctor’s appointments, therapies and counselors.
I am in the middle of reading the book The Hardest Peace: Expecting Grace in the Midst of Life’s Hard by Kara Tippett. In case you’ve never heard of Kara, she is the mom of four children who is currently dying of cancer. Yes, dying. In her lovely and heart wrenching blog, Mundane Faithfulness, she is chronicling her cancer, he life, her death and her struggles. She doesn’t try to make her posts happy and “Christian”. She is raw and honest. She’s dying and it makes her sad.
I have also reading Love has a Price Tag, by one of my all-time favorite authors Elisabeth Elliot. I love Elliot’s writing…it isn’t flowery prose (not my style at all). With grace and kindness but without apology, she tells things the way they are. The other night, snuggled in my warm, cozy bed, I read these words as she compared a trip she took through the jungle to life:
“Every step of faith is a step of faith. In some places the logs were submerged in mud. Finding one to put your foot on did not make it easier to find the next. Each step was a decision, but to make it a problem would have halted progress all together…You had to keep moving. Decisions therefore, had to be snap decisions. If we had let each step be a problem, to be paused and pondered over, we’d still be there. If a decision turned out to be the wrong one, which it often seemed to be, you simply pulled yourself out and kept on.”
Those words were a balm to my soul. If I were traipsing through the jungle that day with Elizabeth Elliot and had decided that I would, say, walk on logs only but not step on any stones, I wouldn’t have made it to our destination. As she said, “finding one to put your foot on did not make it easier to find the next” so much truth in that one sentence!
I like things neat and tidy. I like to make a decision once (to homeschool our children, for instance) and leave it at that. I am nothing if not stubborn and determined (just ask my mom. or husband). And yet, as Elliot says, “every step is a step of faith“. Not just the first step; not just the first ten steps.
I also needed the reminded that “each step was a decision, but to make it a problem would have halted progress altogether“. We made a decision to send our children to school. I need to leave it at that and not make it a problem. All of them did very well when they attended in 2012. To quote Elliot once more, “If a decisions turned out to be the wrong one, which to often seemed to be, you simply pulled yourself out and kept on.”
Chuck pointed out to me years ago that change is hard for me. And it’s true. It takes me a while to adjust, but these days I am reminding myself of two things:
Life doesn’t always turn out how we plan it, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad.
And two, I need to make sure I don’t turn each decision into a problem.
Deciding what is best for one child, doesn’t necessarily make it easier to make that decision for the next child. But the thing is, it doesn’t need to easier.
Each step is a step of faith.
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