I love organization. And intentionality. And, well, perfection. Sometimes my perfectionism spills over into my homeschooling. I want to do exactly what I had planned, in exactly the right order, with no wasted time; only efficiency and precision.
These are worthy values, but in the extreme they collide with my educational (and life) philosophy: that learning and relationships are much more than checking off boxes or completing tasks. I believe fully that learning happens through real life. The frontiers of my children’s knowledge, and hopefully wisdom, reach out like amoeba pseudopods, stretching here and then there, inching and then leaping forward, rather than in measured yardsticks of progress.
I can see the fruit of this philosophy when my children write out and illustrate Bible verses for their friends, or explain to their dad about the various strata in our local dirt. It’s just that it’s so… so… unsystematic. If I don’t make sure that every goal is pinpointed and achieved, then who will? If I don’t give my children the perfect start to life, who will??
But those are the wrong questions. Jesus Christ, through whom the entire universe in all its glory was made and is presently upheld, will take care of the overarching story of my family as I am faithful in what He gives me. So why do I struggle to believe this in everyday life?
I have just emerged from the beginning months of pregnancy with hyperemesis gravidarum, with nausea and fatigue of such magnitude that every minute was a fight to trust God. In the thick of the sickness, I couldn’t control anything. I couldn’t clean my house. I couldn’t cook. I continued to homeschool daily, but we were in a hunkered-down phase of only doing what really mattered. My plans and dreams took a backseat to the realities of my physical limitations.
Some homeschool days I had the energy to lie on the floor of the living room with three kids surrounding me and occasionally crawling on me, and read from our school books. At the end of each chapter, my daughter would beg me to read the next, and so I would, until we were all yawning and ready for naptime (Mom most of all). Some days we examined the ubiquitous millipedes around our home or virtually explored caves through the portal of the laptop screen, and every day we kept on learning from and adjusting to cross-cultural life in Taiwan.
For some blessed reason, I was content. I lived in the moment by necessity and God’s mercy, learning to appreciate the present grace, because I didn’t know how I would cope with the next moment’s requirements until it came. And through this time, my five-year-old’s reading and writing skills skyrocketed, her wonder-filled conception of the natural world blossomed, and her help around the house proved indispensable. I witnessed education happening in the midst of my own limitations and inadequacies.
Even my sickness, helplessness, and reduced ability to take care of our family were a lesson plan. A dear friend of mine, who suffered debilitating and dangerous pregnancy sickness, told me that her older son grew in compassion and kindness while watching his mother’s suffering. He wasn’t being cheated out of the opportunity to succeed, but rather given the opportunity to learn sacrificial love and tender empathy.
The fact that the Lord is ultimately in control of my family almost feels like I am admitting laziness or incompetence. But it should feel like blessed kindness and a gift. God is not wresting control of my life away from me. He is showing me, this silly stubborn woman, that I do not need to “eat the bread of anxious toil” in my delusion of limitless expertise. Instead, He will coordinate all of the universe, including my family and home and children’s education, far above my understanding. He merely calls me to joyful obedience in what He’s revealed to me.
My sickness brought my family and me a hidden blessing: it showed me my true weakness, and God’s incomparable strength.