The daily routine: the well-thought-out family schedule and lesson plans with coordinating family menu that all good home schooling moms should create‒not only should but must create—in an attempt to avoid missing even the tiniest opportunity to teach, clean, cook, budget, exercise, organize, and make more plans, right? The daily striving to be “that wife,” (or “that mother,” “that teacher”; you know the one I am talking about) . . . the one who gets up early to complete her Bible reading and prayer time way before anyone else, . . . the one who prepares healthy meals and snacks for the day, in advance, so as not to interfere with the academic needs of her children, . . . the one who continually tidies the house and never, ever has a load of laundry unfolded, in case the need arises to be the perfect hostess for unexpected visitors who may show up on her doorstep, . . . the one to whom we all should measure up, right?
But consider what happens when those honorable, admirable, even prayed-over schedules, lesson plans, menus, and goals become the driving force behind your family’s daily experience in a negative way—when helpful tools become what dictate your daily actions, words, and attitude.
Do you start each day desiring to model kindness and love to your children and others but end your day frustrated, overwhelmed, and possibly even angry? Do you start each day desiring to speak blessing over your children and end the day as the woman that scripture speaks of who tears down her own family, cursing her very own blessing?
When the “tools” of household management and education become what commands the path we follow, it is easy to become completely overwhelmed and ashamed of the fact that we are not “that wife,” “that mother,” “that teacher;” and we end up emotionally and spiritually unavailable to our family, friends, and even strangers.
Thankfully, God’s ways are different from our ways. The quicker we realize that and release our tight grip on the way we think it should go or to what we think we should measure up, the quicker God’s peace and free-flowing love infiltrate our very being and overflow to those around us.
I am not suggesting that life-planning and goals are worthless and should be abandoned. I am suggesting that they should not be allowed to control our daily living.
This past year I accepted a friend’s challenge to live in the moment, to presence myself in the moment. At first “presence yourself in the moment” sounded like some New Age jargon. I just did not get it. I was firmly in the habit of checking off my “to-do” list and schedule to the point of always working toward the next item on the list, the next activity that needed to be accomplished, instead of enjoying and savoring the very moment I was actually experiencing. Not to mention I was modeling this example for my children as well.
Could I really pay attention to each moment? Could I be present right in that very moment when the dryer is buzzing but my five-year-old wants me to look him in the eyes as he quotes lines from a Disney movie for what seems like the fiftieth time? Could I block thoughts of all the things that need to be done and just listen to my husband as he talks about his day at work? Could I actually care about and listen to the checker at Wal-Mart who is burdened and lonely? Could I get off-schedule because a friend calls and needs prayer? Would life fall apart if I did not stick to that schedule? Will my children fall behind academically if we do not complete the “critical thinking” section of our lesson plans today?
You may laugh at the absurdity of some of these questions, but the truth is these are a few of the many fears I had of relinquishing control of my day and the schedule to follow God’s way and not my own.
So, after committing to this “presence yourself in the moment” challenge, I quickly realized that just like any other discipline, living in the moment takes conscious effort and does not come naturally. It takes resolution to focus on what is happening now and practice until it becomes a quick, automatic response. My tendency always to be looking ahead not only leads to many missed memory moments with my husband and children but mentally places me in an ever-failing, never-measuring-up battle that keeps me from expressing gratitude to God for the daily gifts with which He surrounds me. I become like a horse with blinders on, that can only look forward and never see the all-encompassing, beautiful creation in my peripheral vision.
In this home schooling journey, what is your goal? Do you desire for your children to grow up, go to college, land a well-paying job, and hopefully raise a family in the suburbs—or do you desire for your children to live for Christ, to follow the bent that God has for them individually, and touch the lives of others in the process?
I recently read the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. It was as if God said to me, “Let me help you along in this journey: Read this!” The book is an ugly, yet beautiful, descriptive journey of learning how intricately connected and important focused gratitude is in our daily walk with God.
I would love to say that I have accepted the challenge, read the book, and learned the lesson—thereby mastering the discipline of living in the moment. I must tell the truth, however, and say that it is a continual work God is patiently allowing to sink into this incredibly head-strong brain. It is a beautiful work that is removing the blinders of rigid schedule—following a plan but not being bound by it—and allowing me to embrace each day’s moments, all creation, with attentive eyes and deep gratitude to the Master Scheduler and Planner.