I am a middle child in a large family so I grew up caring for babies and younger siblings. When I got married and was pregnant with my first child, I felt totally confident that I could do the mother thing. After my baby was born almost 21 years ago, that confidence remained unshaken until my baby was two weeks old. Colic hit about that time and with it came hours and hours each day trying to find ways to sooth my distressed baby. There is nothing like a wailing infant who can’t be soothed to shake a young mother’s confidence. I learned pretty quickly that many of my ideas to sooth that baby didn’t work and neither did the experts’. It was in these moments that the scripture, “If any of ye lack wisdom, let him ask of God…” took on new meaning for me. There were many times when asking God for his help was the only thing that worked.
Parenthood alone brings with it quite a learning curve and constant opportunities to realize one’s lack of wisdom. As home school parents we add to that the full responsibility of educating our children. This is a double whammy most of us are unprepared for. Basically by choosing to home school we communicate that something is not quite right with the public school and we bring our children home and try to create an educational environment in our homes. Having never done it before, it takes a fair amount of fumbling and a lot of trial and error to figure it out—at least it has for me.
There have been many days when the responsibility of educating my children has felt like a crushing weight. These are days when confidence in my ability wanes and I wonder if what I am doing will be enough and if my children are getting what they need. Like Abraham Lincoln, I can freely declare that over the fifteen years of my home school experience “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.” Actually going to my knees was exactly the place I needed to go to find the expert guidance and the wisdom I lacked. Let me share one example.
It was a Monday afternoon and my 15 year old son and I were driving the 30 miles home from his piano lesson. He opened up and began to share how awkward he felt in social situations. The evening before he had attended a Bishop’s chat where he had faced this very challenge. At the time, he said that he struggled with what to say and how to say it and then when he did get the courage to say something he worried for days if he had said the right thing or not. He was so frustrated with this and wondered what he could do. As we drove our conversation gradually quieted and he went to sleep. I was left alone with my thoughts. I agonized about my son and his struggle socially. I wondered, “Is this because we home schooled?” In my mind raced a flurry of ideas for how to remedy his problem—enroll him in the local high school or martial arts or counseling. Certainly these would help him learn the social skills he needed.
Later that evening, during family night, my husband asked the children to write or draw what they saw themselves doing with their lives. My 13 year old daughter divided her paper into six frames and drew in each one a picture of her performing in one way or another some of which were drama, violin, and dance. She wanted so much to perform. As I looked at her drawings—at what she really wanted to do—I felt overwhelmed. How was I to provide for her all that she needs so that she can perform and excel in these ways? With six children at that time and their various needs and needing to make the finances stretch between them all, how could I possibly give her what she so deeply wanted?
That night I went to bed feeling exceptionally tired and overwhelmed, with both my son’s and my daughter’s needs weighing heavily on my mind and heart. What was I to do? Early the next morning found me on my knees praying. In my hands I had a notebook and pencil. I was depending on the fact that God would answer and I was ready to write it all down. As I asked about my son, I got a very distinct, clear, and simple answer. “There is nothing wrong with your son. Teach him to whom he may turn to make weaknesses strengths.” Assurance and peace filled my heart. I then prayed about my daughter. The answer for her was just as clear. “Though she may perform, teach her that more important are the simple acts of service and kindness she will have daily opportunity to render.”
As the clarity of God’s wisdom penetrated my heart, feelings of stress, overwhelm and uncertainty dissipated. My confidence returned—confidence in God’s promise that if I lacked wisdom I could ask Him and he would give me that which I lacked. Time and again I have returned to my knees searching for guidance about my children’s education. Repeatedly I have come away from those prayers with knew understanding. I am convinced that God’s idea of education is quite a bit different than man’s. “…for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” I learned this first hand that morning five years ago as I struggled with the needs of my two oldest children. The education God has in mind goes far beyond the quantifiable skills of reading, writing, arithmetic, and social aptitude. It goes beyond test scores and grade levels to the getting of understanding and wisdom and living a life of meaning and service.
Perhaps you are struggling with a fussy newborn or maybe a disconnected teen. Maybe you are wondering how to teach a child to read or how to inspire your children to love and serve one another. Maybe it is the functioning of your home and how to get chores done and school time in too that you struggle with. Whatever your challenge, His promise is sure. He will give you the wisdom you lack and show you how to create a learning environment in your home that educates the hearts as well as the minds of your children. Of this I am absolutely certain.