Aren’t we simply too busy to get it all done?
When was the last time you thought, “Why am I having such a hard time getting my child to finish his school work?” If you are like me, then your answer is “Today.” Sometimes it feels as though God is putting us under the flame, sending a trial our way. Today, it is a noncompliant child. Yesterday, the child was not motivated. The day before yesterday, he was distracted. Why are we experiencing all these trials? For what purpose? Why must it be so hard to homeschool my child?
Have you ever thought that maybe God is not the one putting the trials upon us? Perhaps instead of putting a trial upon us, He is simply permitting the trial that we have brought upon ourselves. Didn’t Adam generate some trials of his own when he lied to God about his role in the Fall? Peter experienced some seemingly self-inflicted guilt trials when he denied Christ three times. And then there’s Paul. Surely he dealt with some self-inflicted trials when he wrote, “[T]he evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing” Romans 7:19 (NIV). Perhaps we bring some trials upon ourselves. Perhaps our children do the same.
Generally, and ironically, it seems that when my children have plenty of time to get their schoolwork done, they have a hard time completing it. There is always something they have put off that needs to be done at the last minute. Conversely, when time is in short supply, they are, generally, able to get their work done in the required time frame. They come through in a pinch. Not too long ago, we experienced this phenomenon. We knew that in the coming week of school, two whole days would be lost due to various circumstances. I was fully prepared to truncate some of my son’s school assignments, but decided to hold off canceling items until I could evaluate his progress. The assignments for the week consisted of a typical Challenge III workload. Yet, at the end of the week, despite the missing days, he had accomplished every assignment! How was this possible? How had he struggled so much during “normal” weeks, yet he came through in the pinch?
As I pondered this strange exhibition of incongruity, I began to realize that the difference between struggling through a normal week and excelling in a time condensed week came down to one word: focus. My son had been able to generate intense focus during the time constrained week. How does one focus intently? By throwing off those things that hinder our purpose. There it is—the answer to all our woes. Now, all we need to do is convince our children that the things that hinder their purpose need to be abandoned. After all, texting is a sin, isn’t it?
Here is a scenario that might hit home. You have just finished one-on-one instruction with Junior, and now you leave him alone to get his schoolwork done. Two hours later, you check on him and find him buried in his iPod, having accomplished next to nothing. Aaargh!
In my happy world, my response would be something like this: “Junior, you have been texting for the past two hours. You know that if you keep this up, you are not going to finish your schoolwork. You know what the Bible says about that, right? ‘And verily didst the Lord smite those that texted, for it was an abomination before Him (First Hallucinations 3:15).’ Surely, you do not want God to strike you down where you stand, now do you?”
Wouldn’t life be much easier if the Bible addressed texting? Or video games? Or Facebook? What about a good book, a long shower, or practicing the piano? Are these sins? Of course not. However, they certainly can distract your child from his purpose. Our purpose as homeschoolers is to help our children to know God and to make Him known, to meditate on what His hands have done, to ponder the works of the Lord, and to discover His invisible qualities which are clearly understood from what He has made. If this is our goal, then how can we address the distractions? While the Bible does not directly address these things as sins, it does address them.
Hebrews 12:1-2 is a verse that I have read many times, but only recently did I understand it in a different light. This biblical nugget states, “[L]et us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (NIV). Notice that it separates “sin” from things “that hinder.” Texting is not a sin, Facebook is not a sin, and taking a long shower is not a sin. However, if these things hinder us from our purpose, then they need to be “thrown off.” If the purpose of our homeschooling is to know God and to make Him known, then we must keep our eyes fixed on the perfecter of our faith. If our schooling has this as its goal, then we must throw off those things that hinder this purpose. And this means we need to throw off the good book if it is interfering with our child’s schoolwork. We need to throw off the iPod if it is interfering with our child’s schoolwork. We need to throw off the texting and the Facebooking. We need to throw off the [fill in your child’s distraction/hindrance here].
Does this mean we must discard these things ad infinitum? I think probably not. There is a time for everything and perhaps the time for these distractions is after the schoolwork is done.
So, the next time your student wanders off to his happy place via his preferred distraction, remember this: his distractions are, in fact, hindrances that are taking his eyes off the purpose and perfecter. With this in mind, perhaps we can better understand how to address these daily trials—with compassion, grace, and discipline. And perhaps we can consider it pure joy to face, endure, and overcome these trials. Good luck.
Now, I’m off to check my Facebook.