That summer morning, as I signed my name on the homeschool paperwork forms and laid my pen on the table, I was weepy and overcome with prickly questions. I sat back in my chair, grabbed my phone to check my email and I opened my inbox, stumbling upon this story sent via a link.
In a moment, my homeschooling worries and doubt evaporated. I'm copying the story below.
A man was sleeping at night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with bright light and the Savior appeared. The Lord told the man He had work for him to do, and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin. The Lord explained that the man was to push against the rock with all his might. This, the man did, day after day.
For many years he toiled from sun up to sun down with his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock, pushing with all his might. Each night the man returned to his cabin sore, and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain.
Seeing that the man was showing signs of discouragement, the Adversary decided to enter the picture by placing thoughts into the man’s weary mind: “You’ve been pushing against that rock for a long time, and it hasn’t budged. Why kill yourself over this? You’re never going to move it” —thus, giving the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure. These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man.
“Why kill myself over this?” he thought. “I’ll just put in my time, giving just the minimum effort and that’ll be good enough.” And that’s just what he planned to do— until one day he decided to make it a matter of prayer and take his troubled thoughts to the Lord. “Lord” he said, “I’ve labored long and hard in Your service, putting all my strength to do that which You’ve asked. Yet, after all this time, I haven’t even budged that rock by half a millimeter. What’s wrong? Why am I failing?”
The Lord responded compassionately,
“My friend, when I asked you to serve Me— you accepted. I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all your strength— which you’ve done. Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push.And now you come to Me— with your strength spent, thinking that you’ve failed. But is that really so?”
“Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscular. Your back sinew is mighty. Your hands are callused from the constant pressure;and your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition you’ve grown much and your abilities now surpass that which you used to have. Yet you haven’t moved the rock. But your calling was to be obedient and to push and to exercise your faith and trust in My wisdom. This you’ve done. I, my friend, will now move the rock.”
Just like the man in the story who was called to push on a large boulder, God has called me to push through my homeschooling difficulties. In listening and in responding to His call, I’ve grown stronger and so have you.
Our decision to homeschool has made us better parents because we have to practice the virtues we are so often lecturing our children about—love, patience, hope, compassion, to name a few.
Our decision to homeschool has made us lovers of truth and seekers of knowledge.
Our decision to homeschool has made us more savvy parents, increasing our ability withstands the tough stuff of parenting.
Our decision to homeschool has cultivated our kids in a way that's different from the world.
I'm not perfect, but through the personal trials I've encountered in homeschooling, the parenting abilities I have
surpass that which I used to have.
Homeschooling is one of the paths God has used to refine me.
Not everyone is called to this path, nor should they be. Honestly? Most of my time is spent devising ways to get off the path!
Still, I haven't strayed yet (and if I do, it's OK, God can work with me on any path) and in a way, my actions reflect a decision to trust in God--no matter the sometimes seemingly impossible situations and difficulties I face.
Perseverance on my path is necessary, but not always easy.
Like the man in the story, I've moved no rocks. I haven't mastered homeschooling. I will never be the poster woman for home education. I will not become a homeschooling guru, proponent or homeschooling book author.
But I will try to be obedient to God and I will answer the call.
And it's this obedience and faith and trust that God will use when He decides to finally move my rock for me.
The work was never about me anyway. It has always about what God can do with someone who is very broken. Before I close, here are a few parting tips to help us all when the homeschooling gets tough:
1. Pray to embrace the cross.
"Let us love the cross very much, for it is there that we discover our life, our true love, and our strength in our greatest difficulties."
— St. Maria de Mattias
If you are like me, you like to pray for God to remove the cross, but you are here so he probably hasn’t yet. And if He does, because I’m schizophrenic like, I’ll probably be sad. But until then, I pray for the grace to love the challenges I face in home educating my children.
2. Don’t despair when you mess up with your kids.
It was in my first year of homeschooling that I realized how acutely I needed to work on my impatience and temper. I mean, it’s one thing to be impatient when your kids are at school 8 hours a day, nine months out of the year, but there is no greater motivation to work on your weaknesses like there is when you have to educate your children all day, everyday. There constant watchful gaze is an instant motivator to self-improve.
So when you do mess up--and you will--all is not lost. There are nine months in an academic school year, plenty of time to make up for any mistakes you may make. Also, one of those days is bound to be a good one.
Don’t let the devil win when he tries to whisper all kinds of negative thoughts about your parenting fails.
Ask for forgiveness from God and your children and move on.
3. Engage is leisurely activities that help restore your physical, emotional, and mental well being.
Do you like to garden? Read? Listen to podcasts? Bake? What? Make time for it, if only so you will fee rejuvenated and alive and ready to tackle the task. If we want to instill in our children a sense of wonder for the world, we must be cultivating one for ourselves.
4. Find a buddy.
Here at the school, we even give you one. Make friends with your buddy. Call them up. Tell them about how you threw the book across the room in a fit of anger. They can commiserate and if they can’t, call me. We can talk about it over a cup of coffee, because I know, I know.
I have a few friends I call or text during the school day if things get helter skelter. They pray for me. They commiserate. Their sanity rubs off of me in my moment of weakness.
5. Don’t evaluate your decision to homeschool in the middle of the school year (and especially not in February).
If you think God is calling you out of homechooling, don’t make that decision before you absolutely must. Every month I think about enrolling my kids in school, I think about it but I don’t spend too much time on it because my task at hand is to home educate. My time to think about enrolling my kids in school happens in May. I discern traditional school in May. Until then, I stay the home educating course.
6. Collaborate with the tutors and the administration and the other resources available to help you.
The people here want to help you. I’ve had the most pleasant experiences working directly with the tutors to help my children succeed. They care about my children and they care about me. They want us to do well and they direct us in the best way they no how.
7. Have Confidence in Your Abilities and the Knowledge that God gave you these kids and He believes in You and so do I!