Us homeschool Moms know that creeping, sneaking and then looming fear that we aren't doing enough.
And sometimes, its not just the fear that we aren't DOING enough... its the overwhelming feeling that WE aren't enough in general. I mean, who do we really think we are? Educating our own kids?! And AT HOME to boot. The nerve...
Because when you get one too many people who question you with a raised eyebrow and a look of disapproval - you start to question yourself with the same raised eyebrows deep in your soul. Or how about when you hear of your child's friend (who's in grade two) doing an hour of 'homework' at night? Or when your child doesn't read as quickly or efficiently as you thought they would? Or when your son refuses to write? Or when you wonder if it really is true that they are 'missing so many opportunities'.
Or maybe it is the nagging feeling that every other homeschool Mom is doing things bigger and better than you are.
Maybe you've never had these doubts. I wish I could say I haven't, but I definitely have. Especially in the first few years of homeschooling. I remember thinking, "Wow... if only all my nay-sayers know how much I actually doubt myself - maybe they wouldn't harp on me so much..."
I remember agonizing over the thought, 'Maybe my unconventional philosophies are just bogus. I mean, after all didn't Charlotte Mason live more than 100 years ago?'
But you know what I've learned?
I've learned how to shake doubt and send it packing.
For the most part. *smile*
And if you are plagued with doubt these days, I want to offer some encouragement. Whether you are thinking about homeschooling or in the first days, month, years or a decade in...
There will be wonderful days.
And there will be some pretty hard days.
There may be whole SEASONS when you wonder if you are making the right choice.
There will be HUGE learning curves and hours and hours of praying and researching and wondering what to do next. Then you'll figure out exactly what to do next - and you'll need to change everything within a month's time.
Nope, your homeschool will not look like the public school down the street - because it isn't supposed to.
(And do you WANT it to?)
Nope, your kids won't likely learn what their neighbour is learning, but isn't that part of the freedom and joy of home education?
And nope, your children will not all learn to read at exactly the same age, because they are individuals - that's how God made them. Unique, beautiful, with their own gifts and talents.
Some days you'll feel on top of the world and other days you'll wonder what on earth you're thinking and if anyone is learning anything at all.
But, you know what?
I'm convinced that all the doubts we homeschool parents feel are rooted in fear. And fear is not from God. He calls us not to worry about anything or be anxious, but instead to pray and trust in Him. So, if you are lost in a sea of doubt and worry about homeschooling - pray.
Prayer is the only thing that has helped me fight those feelings of doubt and insecurity. Prayer and seeking truth in God's Word.
We can fight fear with the wonderful power of the Holy Spirit on our side. We can pray and the Lord will answer. He is our Shelter and our Shield - on bad days and on good and at 1am when you feel like you just can't do another day.
You can stand firm in your decision to homeschool because you can stand firm in the faith that if our God is for you, than who can ever stop you?
And you know what happens? When I get a renewed vision of why we are homeschooling and what really matters - the doubt vanishes pretty quickly. When I see our children as souls- as beautiful, God-breathed people who have eternal purpose - all of a sudden Math and Phonics fade to the background. Sure, academics are important - but they aren't the primary focus in our home. (I know, crazy right?)
At the end of our lives, how well our child did in grade 5 Math or when they started to read will not matter a stitch. What will matter is if they know and love the Lord and if we built a deep-rooted relationship of unconditional love with them - you know, the kind of relationship spelled, T.I.M.E. What I believe will matter is whether we surrendered all to raise our children whole heartedly and disciple them with everything God gave us to give. Did we win their hearts and did their hearts turn towards Jesus?
That is what will truly matter.
I know this deep down... so many of us do... but we need to be reminded. And that's what prayer does. It gives us time to reflect, to get into God's word, to fill ourselves up with truth, and to be filled with His Spirit and His purpose for our family and our children.
Fear and Faith cannot dwell in the same house.
Tell those creeping fears and doubts to take a good long hike and watch freedom and faith take over. Then praise God for His unending grace and the joy we have in educating our children in His truth and in His everlasting love.
So... I looked up "DOUBT" in the thesaurus and I studied the list of Antonyms. I've done my best to include as many of them as possible in the love note below. (hug)
Dear Homeschool Mama,
When doubt creeps in, calm yourself right down and take a deep breath. Look around you, I mean, really, really look at those precious faces. These are the people God has entrusted to your care. You are making people, don't break them.
When unbelief takes over, pray... and replace uncertainty with confidence in the knowledge that greater things are yet to come. Homeschooling is the road less travelled, expect opposition. And when it comes, choose to depend on what you already know in your heart and seek clarity through God's unbending Truth.
Trust in the journey. Trust in the Lord. Trust in yourself and your children too. Rely on God's wisdom to guide you and His strength to hold you up when you're not sure where to go or if you have the ability to get there.
Most importantly, keep the faith. Don't be afraid to admit your faults and surrender your will to His. Anything you can do, I promise - He can do it much better. (Ask me how I know...)
Fight lies with Truth.
Fight Doubt with Faith.
Rest assured that you will be okay and the big stuff today might not seem so big tomorrow. Love always wins. Gentle words are always the best choice. And children behave the way they are treated. You can do this thing called homeschool, because if you are called, and He will equip.
His promises are a sure thing.
Pray. Trust. Obey.
And the Lord will do the rest.
Love your sister in Christ,