In Lamentations 3:22–24, the author encourages us with these words: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him’ ” (ESV).
February 2, 2013, was Groundhog Day. The tradition of observing Groundhog Day is based on a Pennsylvania German custom whereby a groundhog’s behavior on February 2 serves as a means of predicting if spring will come soon or if winter will hang on for another six weeks.
In the 1993 film Groundhog Day, the main character (played by Bill Murray) finds himself caught in a loop of reliving the same Groundhog Day over and over again. I have to admit that I sometimes wonder if I have been caught in a similar loop. My loop is characterized by an almost out-of-body observation of myself and my children dealing with the same struggles on a daily basis. That is, in my mind’s eye, I can hear and see myself and my kids replaying our frustrations almost every day, and I wonder when we will break out of our movie. You know what I am talking about.
There are recurring trials that we seem to face continually. Why does this child take more than an hour to complete her math when I know perfectly well she is capable of finishing the assignment correctly in fifteen to thirty minutes? Why does another child throw his pencil when he is frustrated? Why do I raise my voice when they begin to argue? The amazing thing is that we do these things every day! We know we should not; we discuss it; we promise to do better. Yet, the struggles continue. My friends tell me that these kinds of struggles are common, and that is probably true, but there are deeper and more serious issues at stake here.
What about the heartaches that come from struggling with a rebellious child or a difficult trial in your marriage? I am talking about the kinds of concerns that make you want to sit alone in the dark or that awaken you in the middle of the night as you wonder whether you really have the strength to make it through. You may even wonder if your child has such deep-rooted problems that you all need psychiatric treatment in order to deal with the situation adequately.
Sometimes our children do have very serious problems and it is necessary to seek wise counsel, either through godly friends, a pastor, or a professional counselor. However, I should never make decisions like that alone in the dark. I have heard Satan laughing in the dark. He is laughing because he has seen my weakness and has sensed an opportunity to use it against me. He would crush me if I had not learned that this is the exact moment when God can “show Himself strong on my behalf” (see II Chronicles 16:9).
When I surrender to God, He blesses me every time. Therefore, when faced with the temptation to fear or doubt or even to quit homeschooling altogether, I surrender to God the temptation (i.e., the natural desire we mothers have) to control my family. I remind myself that my children belong to God and that He has a plan for them. I remember that God loves me. I ask for His wisdom. I recall the wonderful days and great joys we have shared. I hear my children telling me that I am a great teacher and how much they love me. I visualize them sleeping peacefully. I think back on how much we have accomplished together. I resolve to think of a new way to address the frustrations, and I remember that this has happened before. In fact, it has happened many times. It is my Groundhog Day.
God’s mercies are new every day! The next day I wake up a little earlier than usual to make sure I am ready for the day. I feel happy! I take extra care to prepare breakfast and select beautiful music to listen to. If someone dawdles while getting ready for the day, instead of yelling, I quietly go upstairs and—with a smile—help her get dressed.
For that pesky math issue, the idea that God has given me is to make it a game in which I use a stopwatch. Today, the child completes the assignment in fifteen minutes and earns an “A.”
When the child who throws the pencil… throws the pencil, I sit with him and work through each problem step by step—with him; I can do that. And then we stop. I will do that every day until he understands. This has happened before, and he has never failed to learn and make progress.
Homeschooling is a God-led pursuit. We are doing it because God has put it on our hearts to do it. Our mission is to bring Him glory. We must let God lead.
God will never call us to do something for which He does not equip us. His love and mercy are boundless. Maybe when I really believe and live that truth, I will not need any more Groundhog Days. In the meantime, I will remember to surrender.