It’s that time of year again, that time when suddenly school clothes are front and center and the dollar aisle at Target has flash cards and workbooks. A few days back I rounded the corner in the aisles at Walmart and a wall-sized display of gold accented notebooks and folders was singing to me. Oh my word. I want one of everything, I thought.
But with the glorious offering of beautiful school supplies, something else marks the season as well. There’s a feeling like something’s coming, a weight that is settling firmly on my shoulders, a heavy sigh that slips out when I think about the month of August.
My husband asked me a few nights back, “How do you feel about homeschool starting back up?”
I swallowed, surprised that tears had instantly joined the conversation. “I feel like I’m staring up a mountain, and all I can think is ‘I’m going to climb this again?'”
And I wonder, how do you do that, how do you head energetically up this mountain when you’re still a little winded from last year’s climb? How do you do better, be more, add students and subjects all the while trying to do some laundry and make meals happen and be some sort of friend?
I have the blessing and curse of aiming big, of wanting so much for my children, of aspiring to offer so much that I am always somehow pleasantly surprised by what we learn and yet disappointed by my own expectations I didn’t meet. This is my own form of crazy, my own vicious cycle, my own seasonal rhythm that involves psyching myself out in the fall and chewing myself out in the spring.
But thankfully there is grace that lets me breathe and truth that helps me to adjust my tainted thinking. And that grace tells me that I am enough, that God is present, that He is not asking anything of me that He cannot enable me to do.
And the truth- well, that is the best part for me this year. Usually it’s that grace that breathes life into me, but this July I am finding so much hope in a few small pieces of truth.
The truth is God has not asked me to be perfect; He has asked me to be diligent.
The truth is I don’t need to prove anything to anyone.
The truth is (and this one is really rocking my world) that living for the kingdom is a lot less like Stephen speaking to thousands or Paul debating with kings. For me, kingdom living looks like the boy who offered his lunch, who generously held out his meager fish and loaves and then watched Jesus feed thousands with it. God is not asking for my masterpiece, my flawless performance, my everyday awesome. He’s asking me to be open-handed with who I am and what I have right here, and then He will do with it as He sees fit.
So I’m staring up this mountain, knowing I’ve climbed one like this before. There are parts of it that are exhilarating and parts of it I’m not sure how to navigate and parts of it that will leave me exhausted. But I’ll start up it soon, followed by a growing line of kiddos who are stronger and more capable than when we started the trek last year. And now we have a one-year old on board and a kindergartener in the mix and an oldest who is finishing up his last year of elementary school. This trek is special in so many ways; this particular mountain will only be climbed once.
If you’re staring up your own mountain, be it homeschooling or transition or your own hard thing that looms ahead, I hope you’ll let go of the need to conquer it effortlessly and, instead embrace your own limits, your unique frailty, your sacred reality that you are but dust. Don’t aim for incredible; strive for diligent. And I hope the view at the top will be worth the long, steady climb.