If I had to say the number one main statement I hear when I tell people that I am homeschooling our children, it is almost always, without fail, "Oh, I don't have enough patience to home school." And, my near immediate response..."Neither do I." And, honestly, this is the truth. If I could recount the number of times that I am seriously impatient with our children (and as the numbers grow, my impatience is revealed more and more), I would really have to begin getting into some seriously high numbers. But, the point of home schooling is not to be a perfectly patient adult. Shoot, I would think that any teacher would be easily able to say that there are many days when their patience is significantly tried in teaching a room full of children, so it is certainly not crazy to say that patience is not a pre-requisite for teaching our children. Are there any pre-requisites? Well, if we plan on doing a beneficial job for our children, yes, I do believe that there is one main pre-requisite that stands out in my head...humility.
"Humility?" you may be asking, "Really?! Of all the available traits of importance; intelligence, book-smarts, a college degree, high school diploma, etc., you choose humility?" And my answer, of course, is "yes." All those other attributes, skills, and smarts we have will only add to what we can pour into our children, but if we do not first begin with humble and submissive hearts towards God, nothing else we can teach our children will matter. The fact is, we can pound information, knowledge, Truth, scripture, science, math, etc, into them all we want, but if we do not model for them a humble heart, we will not be setting them up for a blessed existence when they become adults. This has been a very important truth for me, as I have been learning it piece by piece as my years of motherhood have grown longer. It is inevitable that I will sin before my children. It is inevitable that I will lose my temper, say foolish things, speak rashly or harshly, etc. I am human, and flesh, so as I go through this process of sanctification, becoming more like my Savior, my humanity will continue to show itself. Knowing this, when I act in ways that are a poor example or reflection of God's character, it is CRITICAL that I then model humility and repentance before my children, asking them for forgiveness and prayer for my weakness and then continue to intentionally work on my failings with each passing occasion and opportunity. I am so very blessed to watch this transaction occur on a regular basis. My oldest, Lily, has the most beautiful heart when I fail to exemplify Christ properly. Just this morning I took out some frustrations with another child on her and spoke harshly to her. Once I had gathered myself together, I sincerely told her that I was really sorry I lost my temper and than although I was right in what I was saying to her, I was very wrong in my delivery. I should not have taken out my frustrations on her. I then asked for her forgiveness, which she quickly gave, and then asked if we could pray together. I was so upset with myself and my lack of self-control that when we held hands to pray I could not speak, so my little girl prayed for me, and over me...the tears flowed easily. This is called "being humbled"...God saw fit to give me children so that I could be broken in my pride and grow in His character. I needed to be humbled, and apparently continue to need it on a regular basis.
If there were one often overlooked benefit to homeschooling our children, I would absolutely, without question, have to say that it is the spiritual benefits and blessings that it bestows upon the homeschooling parent! There are definitely blessings to be had for our children, but the homeschooling woman (I will use woman here loosely, understanding that men/dads too will experience the same blessings, but for sake of ease...) must, on a daily and sometimes minute by minute basis, sacrifice the self in order to serve the little children in her care. I wish I could say that this was a "lesson learned," but this is most decidedly a lesson in learning right now. I suspect it will continue to be for some time, too. We all tell our children, "Practice makes perfect." Well, there is no better way to grow in patience, love, joy in times of difficulty and trials, peace, gentility, etc. than to have to face opportunities with our children day in and day out as we uncover their every strength and weakness, and they uncover ours. There is no better way to grow in developing relationships and strengthening our bond to one another than through going through to toughest times together and coming out of them together. At home, especially when lived all day every day, there is no true escape...confrontation, difficulty, etc. must be dealt with head on and both offenders must learn how to serve another instead of expect to be served. There is no better way to learn how to be a servant of Christ than when walking in His shoes through the floors of our homes. Motherhood is not easy. Home schooling is not easy. But, the eternal rewards of persevering in these areas, in doing them God's Way, in submitting to Him each step of the way, and in obeying His guidance and Word with every inch that we move, are more valuable than any gold or silver that could possibly be accumulated in this entire world. We, as parents, must always be of the mindset that John held for his disciples: "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth" (3 John 1: 4). And, for them to learn to do so, we must be models of truth walkers. Perfect? By no means, but humble before God? Always.