open and honest

Ever meet one of those families who seem to never have problems? The key word in that sentence being seem. The kids are always great. The marriage is always great. The homeschool is always great. The spiritual life is always great. No problems to share, ever. Of course we all know that everyone has valleys and mountaintops and nobody escapes life without some bruises and broken bones. But it’s almost as if revealing weakness makes us bad in some way. Maybe if I actually let people know that I am hurting or I am struggling, that I must not know Christ enough or have enough of Him in me. In the secular world, having problems is seen as a character flaw. Someone with undiagnosed problems of their own once told me that addiction only happens to people who have character flaws. I have never met anyone without a character flaw. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I can’t  go through life without 1)this blog and writing in general, and 2)other people who aren’t afraid to share themselves with me. Here’s how those people have helped me.

There are days when I don’t feel like pressing on in my marriage. I need others who are open and honest about the fact that marriage is hard, I need them in order to press on. My parents have been married forever. I appreciate the honesty with which they have shared their lives with me as I became a married woman. In sharing their lives with me I feel comfortable calling them when I need encouragement to hang on. I am thankful for a couple we were friends with who took us under their wing and were open about their own struggles because we were having similar ones. They saved us from temporarily splitting at one point. Had they been perfect, I wouldn’t have related, thus why would I think that me and Chris had any chance? Their love, Life, and openness are still bearing fruit in our home.

There are days when I don’t feel like homeschooling anymore. I need the other homeschooling moms to keep on keepin’ on, to help me keep going. We used to homeschool year-to-year and re-evaluate often. I now know that academic subjects should not be divorced from how they relate to God. No truth exists that He did not create. No truth exists that is not Christ Himself. I have been prone to deception in this area so many times. I have needed the other moms who have not given up to keep me going. While there may not be a single verse saying “thou shalt homeschooleth”, the heart of Christ, the mind of Christ, the plans He has made all point towards laying a foundation that consists of Himself. God cares about how I raise three members of our future generation and He is not silent on this vital matter. I have not been quiet on the matter of schools and how institutions are not the best for children or churches. I am glad for the other mothers who have shared their convictions so openly as well. They have been a great source of encouragement when I want to give up.

Thank you to all the ladies who have homeschooled and shared the ups and downs and the words of the Lord that inspire me and keep me. Thank you for reminding me of the deep spiritual conviction with which I live out my children’s homeschool career. It brings me great joy to know the bigger purpose for which we do what we do. Had no one ever opened up about the struggle and the conviction to stay the course, I would not know the true joy of homeschooling. It’s no popular thing to admit that I homeschool because the freedom it affords us is in line with Christ’s life in our family. It may make me or you an outcast to admit we homeschool out of obedience, but it’s not a trait the Lord hates, just the opposite in fact. Freedom is beautiful. I am free to be obedient and that’s why it’s so satisfying when we homeschool. The world tells us to quit. People who don’t understand socialization tell us that the institution would be good for socializing and society tells us that it’s okay to quit if homeschooling gets hard, but I am thankful for the mothers who continue the path.

There are days we don’t feel like pressing on, but we must… for each other. We may not know each other, but if I know there are moms somewhere in this fine country of our who are deciding they are not going to quit, I feel a sense of connection and dependence. We don’t see the fruits of homeschooling right away, not all of them anyway. We need each other and the more honest you are, the more I am okay with trudging through the muck and mire of long, hard days.

Finally, there are times when spiritually I am having to work a little harder. I have to seek a little longer. Christ can be studied, analyzed, and plucked out of a devotional, but I have a hard time discovering the fresh portion of the living Christ. He hides. I appreciate when others share their times like that too. I don’t feel so alone. The best is when great spiritual leaders, elders, go through these times because it lets me know there’s nothing wrong with me. It may feel like I got left, but I am learning Him in a new way. I don’t get very close, or even trust those who don’t ever have dry times in any of these areas. There’s something off about it and I like the honesty and openness reciprocated. Otherwise friendships can seem like a therapist-patient relationship.

I appreciate women who open up about the struggle, whatever the struggle may be. I am glad for the blogs and the connections they bring me. I see honesty about weakness and pain and other human conditions as beautiful pictures of the Lord’s strength. Those who are weak are strong in Him. I am thankful for all of you who are weak and I know you are “out there” when I am alone and tired and haven’t showered yet, but need to make dinner. Thank you for being “there”.

Love,

Jackie

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