I hope you all had a restful and blessed Christmas break. If only Christmas break could last much longer! But now we’re back to the grindstone with a long winter stretching ahead of us, marked with many uncertainties. Are you feeling the need for strength and courage?
Several years ago, I had the pleasure of conversing with a most interesting lady. Cathy (not her real name) was a police woman and mother of two teenage daughters. She worked the night shift in a sketchy Manhattan neighborhood. Consequently, she had stories galore to tell: how she and her partner would bust drug and prostitution rings; how she dragged famous singers, who had passed out intoxicated or over-dosed, out of bars; how she went after notorious gang leaders who then sent her death threats…
As I listened to her stories, I was filled with admiration for this remarkably gutsy, courageous woman. I thought to myself, “Never in a million years could I do what she does.”
After a while Cathy asked, “So, what do you do?”
“Nothing nearly as exciting as your job,” I replied. “I homeschool.”
Cathy looked at my kids and then back at me. “You homeschool all of them?” she asked, increduously.
“Yes, except for the baby, of course.”
Cathy’s eyes widened. “That,” she exclaimed emphatically in her thick New York accent, “would be my worst nightmare!“
I had to laugh. How could teaching your own kids in the comfort of your home possibly be scarier than chasing down drug lords and receiving death threats? And don’t all parents teach their kids to some extent?
Yet, Cathy wasn’t just being funny; she was also being sincere.
I get it. Homeschooling can be overwhelming, and it sometimes requires courage.
Homeschooling requires courage when family members and friends think you’re crazy because you want to teach your kids at home. It requires courage when you feel under-qualified and you’re afraid that you are not covering all the bases.
Homeschooling requires courage when your child is struggling to learn, and you’re both growing weary. It requires courage when you feel stressed out, over-worked, and under-appreciated.
Homeschooling requires courage when you’ve got lots of little ones all relying heavily on you for everything. And they’re constantly distracting siblings and disrupting lessons. It requires courage when your kids complain and whine, bicker and fight, and they’re driving you crazy.
Homechooling requires courage when the days drag on while your husband is out of town or works long hours. It requires courage when you feel isolated, lonely, or unsupported.
Homeschooling requires courage when another baby is on the way and you are exhausted. How will you ever manage with another one? It requires courage when chronic illness or physical ailments wear at your energy and patience.
Homeschooling requires courage when you feel discouraged by your own faults and shortcomings. It requires courage when you wonder if homeschooling is really making a difference and if it’s really worth the sacrifice.
Above all, homeschooling requires courage to silence the inner voices that tell you that homeschooling is too hard, that you’re not cut out for it, that you ought to give up.
Yes, my friends, homeschooling sometimes requires courage — not the bravery of a policewoman working the night shift in Manhattan, but the fortitude of a mother who is called to persevere through the daily grind of caring for and educating her children.
Where, then, do we find the courage and strength to persevere?
First, we need unwavering conviction — the firm belief that homeschooling is God’s will for our families. During moments of discouragement, we may be tempted to think that God had other plans or that we made a mistake in our discernment to homeschool. But St. Ignatius tells us that when we are in desolation, we should stay the course.
And then we need steadfast hope — the strong trust that God will give us the strength we need to educate our children and raise them to be holy men and women of God.
Most of all, we need prayer, the source of faith and hope.
Meditate on these words from the Bible, and you may find strength for the days to come:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding, In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. – Proverbs 3:5-6
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. – 1 Corinthians 15:58
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. – Isaiah 41:10
Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. – Philippians 4:6
Do not fear: I am with you; do not be anxious: I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. – Isaiah 41:10
May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father – Colossians 1:9-12
If anyone wishes to come after me, let him take up his cross daily and follow me – Matthew 16:24
May God give us the grace to take up our daily crosses courageously and lovingly, offering them up for the holiness of our families!