It's Sunday morning after second service. Most people have filtered out of the building. A few groups still chat together in your foyer. Little kids are running around, as usual. Their happy shrieks punctuate the air like smiley faces dotting the page of a girl's notebook. Few notice. Those who do only turn to grin as the tumbleweeds of energy bounce off their legs and continue on their random trajectory.
A mother calls after one of her fleeing children. She's exasperated, exhausted, sharp. "Stop!" Church is no place to run, she informs her child.
As she shoos her offspring out the door, my smile has faded.
Stress is always ready to tackle me to the ground. It shows up most often when I'm thinking about our budget or working on a media project. There's so much at stake in these things! I find similar anxieties when it comes to teaching kids (be it behavior, tying shoes, or Latin). I don't want my kids to appear behind, uneducated, uncouth. And I know I don't want to seem like a bad teacher or parent!
So I raise my voice, loose my cool, reprimand. I seek ways to modify behavior, keep kids in line, and keep them on task. And in so doing, I miss out on the joy of kids. I also miss out on the joy of making movies or seeing God's provision. My focus is on me (how I appear, how I'm doing, how my kids/projects are turning out) instead of on God's goodness to me in providing opportunities to do good stuff and see God's grace in my life. Add the exhaustion and frustration of parenting and it's somewhat remarkable how many parents hold it together in church.
But I want more for us, for you, for me.
I want to find joy in what is before me. The joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10), and I forget that most often when I am feeling weak. Interesting, is it not, that the passage about joy in the Lord comes directly after Israel has rediscovered just how much they have failed to follow God? What a beautiful response to seeing our own shortcomings: "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."
Find joy. Have fun.
Cindy has a fascinating post that contrasts the somber face of the "purity movement" vs the joyful silliness of parenting. And while I want the young men and women I know to honor God with their decisions, I want them to rest in the God's strength to make hard choices, not out of a sense of burden should they fail. May we keep our eyes focused on Christ.
By relaxing just a bit, I find I am more able to accomplish the good, important, meaningful things God has called me to do. May you find joy in homeschooling and everything else God has enabled you to do.
Filmmaker, Writer, Guardian
P.S. If homeschooling has become a burden to you, remember that you do not need to use your curriculum "as is." You also don't have to finish school in 36 weeks. If you're having a bad homeschool day, remember that His mercy is new every morning (Lamentations 3:23) and available to you right now.