Fortiter fideliter forsan feliciter, or Repentance
part of the Education Is for Life series
This series is rather ill-timed and ill-spaced. Honestly, these posts have actually required research of me, and a lot of thinking. So they have taken longer to write and hence are spread out over months rather than running for a week or two as I had originally thought. The series began while listening to Chris Perrin’s recent webinars on Principles of Classical Education, when I realized that these same principles that are key to classical education are simply key to life. And, if they are key to both life & education, then does that not emphasize how education is simply a subset of life itself? Education is a life, Charlotte Mason said, and education is also for life – it enhances life and it lasts a lifetime.
The Latin motto for this principle is another I discovered with the aid of Google, but when I saw it I knew it was perfect. There are versions that leave off the forsan (“perhaps”), but it was that forsan that drew me immediately in and keyed into a vague notion I’ve been pondering lately: The idea of focusing more on the process, on doing what I should do, and leaving the results, the outcome, to God. The world recommends setting SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, timely) goals, where the focus is on achieving measurable results. But, doesn’t the Bible focus more on obedience and trust? And aren’t so many of the things we strive for as mothers and home-educators not exactly measurable?
Yes, getting dinner on the table or taking the kids to the dentist could be accomplished as a SMART goal, but these things are small parts of a bigger vision and goal that is not at all measurable, not even all that specific, and much too long-term to be “timely”: raising healthy, happy, godly children.
Listen to this post:
Fortiter fideliter forsan feliciterThe motto means “bravely, faithfully, perhaps successfully.” What I love about this motto is the reminder that so often the results are not in our hands. We are called to obey faithfully, but God gives the increase - in His time, in His way - and it often doesn’t look like what we expected. We can’t control how things will work out, but we can control whether or not we obey, right here, right now. We can trust that God will work it all out in the end.
"True education is a form of repentance. It is a humble admission that we've not read all that we need to read, we don't know all that we need to know, and we've not yet become all that we are called to become. Education is that unique form of discipleship that brings us to the place of admitting our inadequacies." – George Grant, “Repentance"It is so easy to get the message from the world that we are supposed to be awesome, and if we aren’t awesome, then we need to fix things – ourselves, our situation, our habits, our tools. We are all only a quick fix away from being awesome.In fact, we were created to be awesome: to reflect God’s glory, to sub-create in this world, and to rule it profitably. But it is sin that mars what we were created to be, and any fix that ignores the fact that we cannot fully be what we were made to be will set us up for disappointment.The satisfying life is not the life of super productivity or super health, but one of repentance, of sanctification, of growing in godliness and being conformed to the image of Christ.Martin Luther, in the first of his 95 Thesis, wrote
When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said “Repent," He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.Luther then distinguishes between repentance and penance: we are to live a life toward God, turning from our own sinfulness and selfishness. Repentance is not making up for our guilt ourselves, paying off God with either money or good works. Christ is the only sacrifice that alleviates guilt. Repenting is not living in perpetual guilt and woe-is-me introspection; it is faithfulness, it is obedience, it is listening to and believing God rather than ourselves and how we may feel. Repentance is not sackcloth-and-ashes living; it is abiding in Christ’s will rather than our own. Abiding in Christ is our joy and our strength. No, we don't do so perfectly, but the answer is ever turning away from our sin and toward Christ; that is repentance.Repentance is bravely and faithfully changing our attitudes, changing our perspective, changing our actions, whenever we are made aware that they are not aligned with God’s Word, His revealed will. It is hard, but it is life-giving.