Today was one of those homeschool days where character training overshadowed any other form of learning. If I am completely honest, these kinds of days are exhausting and discouraging. Some days I can manage to keep perspective but other days I find myself ready to give up on this whole homeschooling journey.
That is, until I remember “why” I entered this lifestyle in the first place. If one of the many reasons we have chosen to education our children at home is to focus on the spiritual development of our children, then I should rejoice in the hard moments of parenting and educating for they are the exact moments when I have the opportunity to teach my children about their need for Christ, to point them to the work of the Holy Spirit, to hopefully foster a relationship between my child and the Lord, to encourage strong familial relationships, and to hopefully be the primary and greatest positive influence on our children. These opportunities are not lacking in our home!
Charlotte Mason’s Home Education Volumes, second only to the Bible, have quickly become my favorite “go-to” parenting resources. Her encouragements about our role as parents are simultaneously biblical and realistic, calling mothers to take up their role with professionalism and with fear and trembling. In what feels like a breath of fresh air, she acknowledges the mother’s own brokenness and dares to call mothers “inadequate” for the task. I personally find this hopeful, because this is how I feel most days. Through the most beautiful parable, she perfectly balances our responsibility to introduce Christ to our children while leaving the salvation of our children to the work of the Holy Spirit.
“Who would say that a bee can produce apple trees? Yet a bee flies from an apple tree laden with the pollen of its flowers: this it unwittingly deposits on the stigmas of the flowers of the next tree it comes to. The bee goes on, but the pollen remains, but with all the length of the style between it and the immature ovule below. That does not matter; the ovule has no power to reach the pollen grain, but the latter sends forth a slender tube, within the tube of the style; the ovule is reached; behold, then, the fruit, with its seed, and if you like, future apple trees! Accept the parable: the parent is little better in this matter than the witless bee; it is his part to deposit, so to speak, within the reach of the soul of the child some fruitful idea of God; the immature soul makes no effort towards that idea, but the living Word reaches down, touches the soul, — and there is life; growth and beauty, flower and fruit.” Vol. 1 pg. 344
She then comments that the parent “will have infinite need of faith and prayer, tact and discretion, humility, gentleness, love, and sound judgment, if he would present his child to God, and the thought of God to the soul of his child.” Vol. 1 pg. 345 She encourages us to teach heart truths over dry theology, to speak less instead of more, and to allow the words of Scripture to permeate our children’s hearts instead of our own endless dribble. She challenges us to not require our children to “be good” without first giving them the gospel and thus the power to do that good. This sort of parenting, with thoughtfulness, tact, sensitivity to our children, and making room for the work of the Holy Spirit “cometh forth only by prayer” and through the modeling of our own pure truth faith, emanating from every pour of our being and impacting every word, decision and action we make.
Where does that leave me on a discouraging day? It leads be right back to my God and Father, who “gently lead[s] those that are with young.” (Isaiah 40:11) The passage in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 that once inspired me to talk of the Lord’s commandments with my children while walking, sitting, lying down and getting up, now exhausts me! But God, who “does not faint or grow weary… He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.” (Is. 40:28) And for those moments when I want to finally see some positive results of my ten and a half year investment? He says, that “they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Is. 40:31) Daily, I am in need of God’s grace, wisdom, patience, kindness, strength, and energy, and so to Him I turn. I pray that along the way I can deposit little vital spiritual truths along the path I walk together with my children, “having patience until they blossom and bear.” (Vol. 1 pg. 352), while trusting the work of the Holy Spirit to imbed those truths into the hearts of my children.