Have you ever felt like God is leading you to do something you don't want to do? For several years, I've been wrestling with a single question: should we homeschool our kids? Ok, well, to be more accurate, I wasn't really wrestling at first. I hadn't even considered homeschooling as a possibility. In fact, I keenly remember telling my husband that homeschooling was a deal breaker. If he wanted to marry the kind of wife who wanted to stay at home, homeschool and cook dinner every night he could find someone else.
I have since become a mom who stays home, plans to homeschool and cooks dinner nearly every night.
Who am I?
Let me start by saying, this was not my idea. My life plan included a lot of things. Kids were on my list, but homeschool was nowhere to be found. And yet God has lovingly and painfully shattered my plans for my life. He is leading me down a path I could never have imagined for myself, one that forces my reliance on Him for strength and provision. Ultimately, this isn't a story about homeschooling. I'm not going to build a case for why it's better than any other schooling option and shame parents who send their kids to public or private schools. Homeschooling is one option of many, and I think parents should do what is in the best interests of their child and their families. Point blank period. Ultimately, this story, and my life story really, is about surrender and obedience. It's about taking your hands off the steering wheel of your life and trusting God wherever He takes you.
I can't say I haven't gone kicking and screaming (I've always been stubborn), and I can't promise this is a long-term thing. But I know this for sure: God's way is better. He knows more. He sees all. And He can be trusted. So in my usual long-winded fashion, today I'm sharing how in the world we got here. My hope is that someone else wrestling with God's leading is encouraged to step out on faith and trust Him wherever He's taking you.
Circa 2011: Dealbreaker
"So, how do you feel about homeschooling?" The question came out of the clear blue sky and hung suspended in the silence that followed.
"I don't," came my reply, without a moment’s hesitation.
"Oh," he replied with a slight chuckle, clearly amused. "I just knew any wife of Musa's was going to homeschool."
Any wife of Musa’s?
At the time, Musa and I had been engaged for at least a few months, and homeschooling never come up in discussion. I immediately felt caught off guard and paused to consider the source: a close friend of Musa’s who he trusted and confided in regularly.
Surely I was missing something. I turned my head sideways to see if he was joking. He smiled silently.
"You guys haven't even talked about it?" he asked.
"Nope," I replied, trying to keep my voice even to mask my surprise.
"Oh, wow. Maybe he's changed."
An awkward silence filled the space between us before the topic of conversation took a gracious turn. Still shocked however, I filed it away in a mental folder of "dealbreakers" to discuss with my dear fiancee later. And ohhhhhh would we discuss.
I couldn't wait to get the words out later that evening, blurting them over each other with urgency. But cool as a cucumber, Musa laughed easily and brushed the topic off casually. It was one of a bunch of options, and not a bad one either, he said. But he wasn't dead set on homeschooling. Far from it in fact.
I couldn't have been more relieved.
Circa 2012: Disinterested
"I want you to watch a video with me," Musa said one day. We'd been married for exactly one year, maybe a little more, and at the time there was nothing odd about this request. For one, we had time. Since we didn't have kids yet, the weekends were completely ours. Plus, I knew my husband to be a man with a deep affection for intellectually stimulating content. I assumed we'd watch a music video or maybe a sermon, and dissect it, in the usual way.
I can't remember if he told me what it was about in advance. I can't remember how much we watched, or whether we talked about it after. All I know is that I woke up not even halfway through to Musa's semi-judgey stare.
"You're tired, go to bed, babe," he said softly as my sleepy eyes met his.
Even now I remember the hint of disappointment in his demeanor despite his understanding. In my defense, I was exhausted from working at an all-consuming job and being a newlywed and having to figure out what to do with alllllllllll my free time.
The video also wasn't exactly the most engaging. It turned out to be a TWO-PART lecture (two parts!!), called "Children of Caesar," taught by Pastor Voddie Bauchaum. It was suuuuuper long, and it was all about the Christian case for homeschooling. There were a million statistics and a lot of history and it was late. (yawn)
The fact that he wanted to watch a video about homeschooling in the first place was odd, both because we didn't have kids at the time, and because I thought I'd made it clear before we got married that I had no intentions whatsoever of homeschooling. My husband on the other hand, was beginning to share thoughts. He didn't push me one way or the other, but it was clear he had, maybe always had, thoughts.
I did not share these thoughts. Not a one.
After apologizing half-heartedly, I went upstairs and straight to bed for a nice, uninterrupted sleep.
We never spoke of it again.
Circa 2017: Defiant
She was struggling. To breastfeed or not to breastfeed. I, the “experienced” mom friend, was on the phone, helping her weigh the options. After some back and forth, I heard myself say these fateful words:
"You know, it's kind of like homeschooling. Everyone knows it's what's best for your child, but it doesn't necessarily work for everyone, and that's okay." I have absolutely no idea what I said next; what she said next. I stopped dead in my tracks near the edge of my bed, staring at my reflection in the mirror.
“Where did that come from,” I wondered silently, my mouth slightly ajar, my hand now barely holding the phone to my ear. “Did I just say that?”
Then, more importantly, “do I really believe that?”
Wherever that logic came from, I sent it right back at that exact instant. I buried it in a deep, deep dark grave without a headstone, turned around, and walked in the opposite direction.
I could not, would not, let myself come to terms with the possibility that homeschooling could possibly be "best" for my child, but that I was unwilling to even consider it as an option for my kids because of whatever reason. Not me who breastfed both my children until 15 months and co-slept and made homemade baby food and bought organic and still used sensitive wipes and actually contemplated cloth diapers.
Months Later: Divine Intervention
I was in church when I ran into a close friend in the hall. I listened as she shared excitedly that she and her husband had made the decision to homeschool their daughter.
“I was thinking to myself that it would be so great if you guys homeschooled Lincoln, and we could have our own little cohort.”
"No, Lord," I said out loud, and firmly.
She looked at me puzzled, then chuckled.
“Lincoln is where he’s supposed to be during the day (pre-school) and I’m where I’m supposed to be,” I explained unapologetically.
I don't remember the rest of the conversation with my friend, but what did it matter. Try as I might, I couldn’t deny the Lord’s tug.
I do remember the tears that came later in my quiet time with the Lord. After much denial, I came face-to-face with this area of my life that was apparently unsurrendered to God. I was not convinced that we should homeschool. I was only convinced that I had built such a wall around the very possibility, that not even God could get in unless He forced His way in.
He forced His way in.
Over the next weeks and months, I prayed for guidance and asked God to lead me in whatever direction He wanted me to go, but I also made sure He was aware of all the other very hard things I was willing to do for Him instead.
I could have another kid.
I could sell some stuff.
I could go be a missionary.
“Anything but homeschooling,” I pleaded.
Up until this point in my life, there were very few things that the Lord could ask that I was unwilling to give. My husband is witness that I am usually down to ride when it comes to making big, costly decisions for God. Or so I thought.
Until the day the Lord asked of me the one thing I was clinging onto most.
My time. My freedom. My sense of worthiness and belonging. My every single day.
As a working mom, my days are filled with busyness, yes, but also precious, precious downtime. Glorious quiet when there is no pitter patter of small feet. Time for long showers and coffee and naps. Time for writing in my journal uninterrupted and reading Scripture with a clear mind and going to the bathroom without screaming to the little people waiting on the other side of the door.
Time to just be.
As it is, parenting already takes so much energy. So much effort so I did not think it unreasonable that I wanted my time. I wanted to be untethered for hours in the day. And although I’m perfectly positive I have the cutest, sweetest boys in the world, and though motherhood is one of my life’s greatest joys, I did not want to be at home with my kids all day. No, I would work between the hours of 9a and 4p on the weekdays, and mother in the margins.
I defended this prize, this idol, so vigorously, that I could not, would not hear my husband when he wanted to discuss the very possibility of homeschooling early on in our marriage. I could not, would not yield, to even the thought that this might be the road the Lord wanted our family to travel.
And so I did what any stubborn heart would do. I wrestled. Fiercely. And to my surprise, God wrestled back.
I did not commit to homeschooling in the weeks that followed. But I did commit to exploring, to getting information, to asking questions, to tearing down the wall brick by brick.
“If this is what you want from me, you have to do all the work,” I told God as though that would somehow intimidate Him. As though He wasn’t always the one doing all the work.
One day and randomly, a good friend came to mind. Someone I deeply respected with three well-mannered boys who I knew had started homeschooling a year or so before. We’d met in college and reconnected later after I had my first child.
On a whim, I sent her a text to ask if she had time to talk about her experience and answer a few questions. She agreed. I wanted our conversation to be productive so I thought through my biggest reservations:
- My lack of patience. Surely, there was no way I could survive my kids all day. As it was, I was with them only a few hours in the evenings after school and daycare and those were the most tiring hours of the day. Be with them from sunup to sundown? Not my spiritual gift.
- My lack of discipline. In a former life, I was an organized person who showed up to things on time and remembered important details. The person I am now is unable to commit to any type of schedule, chronically late and forgets most details. How could I ever be one of those insanely scheduled homeschool moms? I would diiieeeeee.
- My lack of space. I have a friend who does “basement school” with her kids and another who plans to use her daughters playroom into a classroom. I had nothing. No basement, no playroom, not even an empty wall. At the very least, I’d need like a desk for my kid or something, right? It seemed like every crevice of our house was occupied.
Excuses prepared, I sat on my couch eagerly one cold morning, my phone on speaker with my Notes app open, expecting this friend to encourage my fears away or at the least try and convince me that I had more than I thought I did going for me.
“Christina, this is the harder road.” It was the first thing she said, and matter-of-factly, with a long sigh.
“Every three months or so, I look at my husband and ask him, why are we doing this again? And he has to remind me because it’s not easy. It is the harder road, but it is the better road.”
It was not exactly the motivational speech I was expecting. In fact, she skimmed over approximately ALL the “logistical” questions I was so worried about - how does it actually work?!! - and instead asked a more important question.
“Why are you doing this? Why do you want to homeschool?”
Want to homeschool?! Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!
That’s what I wanted to say. I didn’t want to homeschool. Not now, not ever. This was CLEARLY not my idea.
When I didn’t answer, she told me, “You’re not gonna survive if you don’t know why you’re doing this. You’re going to quit like so many others do because it’s hard. My advice would be to figure out your why.”
”There’s a good book that helped us, she continued. “It’s called ‘Family Driven Faith.’ Have you heard of it? It’s by Dr. Voddie Baucham and it’s a great place to start.”
It’s true what they say - that God has a sense of humor - even if it takes us a long time to laugh.
I knew in that moment, just as clearly as I know my name, that it was Him, all along leading me here.
And so I surrendered. Finally.
I read through the book. I watched the videos again. What once had seemed so sleep-worthy before, became fascinating to me. There was something to this homeschool thing I’d missed before. For the first time, I could see the good.
Today: Daring to Trust
”This whole homeschooling thing is making me kind of nervous,” Musa tells me as we talk about which curriculum we should choose one evening.
I glare at him in disbelief.
“Ohhh no. You don’t get to be nervous,” I say, not joking. “This whole thing was your idea.”
He laughs and shrugs, but I know what he means. It is nerve-wrecking going against the grain and trying something new. I go back and forth between excitement and anxiety (and I’m heavy on the anxiety these days.) I have so many questions about what this will mean for our family and my business and our lives. I am committing to just one year of this, I remind both Musa and the Lord and everyone else at every turn, afterwhich we will evaluate and pray and hopefully God will change His mind. Read: I am not in this for the long haul.
And yet, I remember the truth of God’s Word, which says He is able to make all grace abound to me, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, I may abound in every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8).
It’s going to have to be Him, if any of this is going to work. But isn't it always?
Where is God calling you that perhaps you don't want to go? Is there any area of your life where you're kicking and screaming? Trust and obey, friend. His way is always better, even if it is the harder road.