So, let’s be honest.
How many of you have felt like you’ve failed your kids?
Wait, what? I thought this was about encouragement for homeschool moms. It is. Hang with me, here. Before there is good news, we must recognize the bad news.
Despite what you see (or interpret to yourself) on social media or during quick greetings at co-ops or church, you are not alone. Ask someone else this question. Ask a mom who has finished her homeschooling years. They will all affirm that there were times – perhaps more times than not – when they felt like they were failing.
You’re not the only one who feels like a failure. You’re not the only one who really has blown it. You’re not the only one who feels inadequate for the task at hand.
We all do – not every day, but most days. Everyone else – myself included, for sure – does not have some magic sauce you’re missing, some secret formula or super power. Every single one of us not only feels like we’ve blown it or are inadequate.
Every single one of us HAS blown it and IS inadequate more often than we don’t or aren’t.
Now, knowing that other people are just as bad off as we are might provide some small solace and calm some of our envy, but it doesn’t really help, either.
Encouragement for homeschool moms is needed not because we need to feel better about ourselves, but because we need actual courage for the task at hand. True encouragement for homeschool moms builds courage, the readiness to walk in trust and faithfulness, despite our feelings.
We need courage to educate our children.
But we’re never going to find that courage while looking AT others in comparison or looking TO others for answers.
The courage that we need can only come from looking to Christ.
Therefore, the encouragement we need is Christ. He is the best encouragement for homeschool moms – the only true encouragement, the only source of true courage.
We all feel like we are failing our kids because, quite honestly, we have and we are.
We sin. We speak in anger. We take our frustration out on our kids. We insist on our own way. We blame our kids for our reactions and for our weaknesses. We skip lessons because we don’t wanna and then get angry at the kids when they do the same.
We look to our kids for comfort, for care, for kudos. And then, more often than not, we feel crummy.
So let’s be honest: We all have crummy days and when we’re completely honest, we know those crummy days boil down to our own shortcomings, our own sin.
More often than I’d like to admit, I sin against my kids is in being what love is not: I insist on my own way and I am irritable.
Teaching obedience, it turns out, is not teaching everyone to do everything my way.
I mean, look, I have a plan, and if you all would just fall in line, this day would flow brilliantly and be so efficient and productive. It’d be glorious.
Brilliant efficiency and productivity is the kind of glory I’m attracted to – especially when it’s other people putting my plan into action (because I’m actually bad at doing that myself). But humans, especially young humans, do not operate that way. In fact, they rather glory in upsetting well-laid plans. So we clash.
And, it turns out, as the grown up and the mother, it’s not my job to force them into my patterns, it’s my job to love them while guiding them in God’s patterns – which don’t prioritize efficiency or projects.
How should I love them?
1 Corinthians 13 tells me what loving them isn’t: it isn’t arrogant or rude; it isn’t insisting on my own way; it isn’t being irritable; it isn’t being resentful. Instead, love is patient and kind.
Have you ever heard someone say – or perhaps you’ve said it yourself – “Oh, I couldn’t never homeschool. I’m not patient enough.”
That is totally true. Never contradict that statement or let someone else dismiss it or “encourage” you that it isn’t true. It is true, totally true.
Encouragement for homeschool moms that focuses on shallow soothing is not encouragement – not building up courage – but rather uncouragement: tempting us to prioritize our comfort instead of gearing up to obey.
The truth is that not a single one of us is patient enough to homeschool.
Not a single one of us is patient enough to teach a passel of kids in any setting.
Not a single one of us is patient enough to be a mother!
But that doesn’t mean that we’re off the hook, that we don’t have to teach or parent because we don’t have what it takes.
There’s no getting off the hook for being patient and kind. There’s no getting off the hook for showing love, especially to our own household.
Being aware that we don’t have the patience we need is the first good step that must be taken. If we step into this job thinking, “Oh, I’ve got this.” then we’re simply stepping out with large stride – straight onto that banana peel, and the results will be inevitable. We will, eventually, land in a place where we say, “I don’t have what it takes to do this thing I’m supposed to do.”
That’s right where we are supposed to be.
There is no way that we’ve got this.
But God does. And it is His good favor and His kindness to us that brings us to the point where we see that we do not have what it takes, that we are failing, that we have insurmountable faults, that we are inadequate.
We are supposed to begin there – not so that we give up before we begin, but so that we give over, surrender, our own ways, our own sense of control, our own confidence in ourselves. We give all these over to Christ.
We are not enough and don’t ever let anyone try to tell you that you are.
We are inadequate, broken and chipped vessels. But we are vessels created by God for His purposes. He is the owner, the potter, the Creator. Jesus is the Savior, the strength, the song, the enough.
He is the one who has already fulfilled all righteousness and gives from His overflow to us. The Holy Spirit is the one working sanctification in our hearts that we might abound in every good work, abound in His fruits, which includes patience.
We don’t gin up the patience we need. We are given the patience we need by the Holy Spirit through the gospel, which we need every single moment of every single day.
That does require courage. It requires humility. It requires stepping out in faith – knowing we don’t have what it takes and we are not enough, but trusting that Jesus does and Jesus is and that it is His good pleasure to work in us that which is pleasing in His sight.
There is no better encouragement for homeschool moms.