I was conversing offline (away from HSB), but yet online, with a dear blogger friend and sister in Christ about friendships, how people come and go in our lives, and the season of some relationships. Don’t you just love how the Lord sometimes gives those in-the-moment opportunities to practice what you preach?
I had an opportunity to visit with a friend that I hadn’t seen in a long while. I was genuinely excited about the visit, but also apprehensive: though a believer, right now, her life is not one that I would consider as being lined up with Christ. I remember riding and thinking to myself, “Lord, is this where I should be?” I was particularly concerned for my oldest, who rode with me. Am I being a good guardian of her ear- and eye-gate as she visits with kids who are far from You? As the first of many digressions, let me say that I believe in sheltering children, but not to the point that they’re shell-shocked when they meet kids who don’t have a relationship with Christ. So, although I was still a bit anxious on her behalf, I was able to placate myself, at least temporarily, with the thought that I could minister to my friend and be a blessing to her. Besides, I need to get out of my ‘all-Christian, mostly homeschooling friend’ box and let my light shine in some dark places, so I thought. I exhaled a deep breath as we knocked on the door. Here goes.
My husband and I talked over a couple of days about what happened while my daughter and I visited, and what it means to us naturally and spiritually. In one sense, I had genuine fun, as strange as that might sound. It’s rare that I get to hang out with a friend and do something that is completely for me—not work-related, not school-related, and not for someone else in the family. But on a much deeper level, I saw all the fruit of losing your first love: a husband and wife who were subtly and almost constantly at each other’s throats, wayward kids, and a family falling apart at the seams. Chasing worldly idols instead of the One that is worth the pursuit is empty living, and it eventually takes its toll. I know as we were there for a while (though not to this level), spending little time as a family, even less as a couple, and smiling through tears at our big house, nice cars, and latest vacation pics. At the risk of sounding critical, I struggled during my visit to walk a fine line between a wife, who selfishly wanted me to stay as a part of her fun, and a husband who, though he expressed it quite immaturely, wasn’t getting his share of attention during his wife’s rare time away from work and school. Have you ever walked into a house and knew that you were in the middle of something you shouldn’t have been in? All the time my mind was spinning: how do I get out of here quickly (though probably not quickly enough for him), but not insult or offend her? Is it my business to somehow speak to what I was seeing, and if so, what spiritual “meat” could I leave for her to chew on that might help? If I witnessed this, what was my daughter seeing upstairs (the kids aren’t allowed in her space)? All the obviously unspoken words between the couple–“I need you”, “I want you here with me”, “I care”—Lord, what does it mean and how should I respond?
On the way home, my daughter talked in detail about her visit. God’s hand is truly upon her, and she’s light years ahead of where I was at her age regarding her discernment. Yet, her first comment was how much she enjoyed visiting that particular home because ‘we always stay for hours!’ (Cropping is so time-consuming, but the results—aaaaaahhhhh.) I wanted to ask her what specifically she liked about going there, but my mind was spinning so that I had to at times ask her to repeat herself as I tried to decipher everything that had transpired over the last few hours. I did manage, however, to eventually hear every word because I didn’t want to miss a thing.
A part of what I saw that day was my friend refusing to cook in order to indulge in our girl fun while her husband and kids complained, silently and not so silently, about being hungry. Witnessing everyone’s interaction reminded me how much I value taking care of everyone around me before I engage in anything for myself, so when I got home, I immediately prepared dinner. As it turned out, I was the only one who was hungry, but the effort gave me a strange peace—I’m sure that was psychological. Over buffalo burgers, my husband and I talked about what we want our children to take away from this house and into their own marriages. I thought again about what a gift God has given us to be with our kids most of the time, loving on them and pouring His love upon their hearts and minds. Again, forgive me for sounding critical, but I’ve yet to understand how casually people place their children back into traditional school systems. I know that some have to for financial and other reasons; my comment isn’t directed at them, but instead to the parents who just ‘don’t want to do this anymore.’ Don’t they realize what they’re giving up?
Our family prayed for their family that night. All this brain activity led me, strangely enough, back to the goals that we wrote down when we first began to educate at home. As a bit of a backdrop, we were given great advice when we started: write down 10 goals regarding what you want to see in your children as adults. It will dictate how you teach them as children. For the sake of space since this is rather long, I won’t list our goals, but I’ve thought to add a few, in no particular order, following a day of revelation.
Lessons Our Kids Should Take Away from This Home
Boundaries are okay; selfishness is unacceptable.
A family is a team. We help each other rise, or we all fall.
The happiness and wholeness of each member of our family is far more important than any possession in this home.
Similarly, the noise and clutter that comes naturally from having fun, loving and laughing will always outweigh a perfect presentation (I’m still working through this one, but I know it to be true) .
We prefer each other over ourselves.
Not a day goes by that we don’t show each other love; hugs, kisses, and acts of kindness and self-sacrifice are always the order of the day.
May the Lord continue to bless each of you. Take some time and love on each other!