The Gifts of Homeschooling:
Love for Neighbor
A gift afforded to me by homeschooling that I am profoundly grateful for today is the gift of the ability to work both FOR and WITH my children, serving them as my closest neighbor and also spurring them on in the good work of serving their neighbors in love and with joy. Home education affords me this gift in that it provides me with time and flexibility for the worlds of mothering and learning to authentically and intermittently collide. Monday is cleaning day, and on this day I give my children real, valuable work to do. I too, on this day, do all of the least glamorous of my tasks. As we labor together, my children see in me a desire to serve them and to love them tangibly. To be honest they also see in me the tendency of my flesh to grumble and complain, and they often are also witness to my repentance of my battle with impatience and my tendency to make productivity an idol. Because they witness this tangible service week after week, they are painted a picture of what it looks like to be made more and more into the image of Christ, as I grumble less year after year and joy grows in me as I glorify God in the most mundane of ways. In tandem to this profoundly imperfect, but nonetheless valuable, picture of service that I paint for them, they are also given the opportunity to learn to serve themselves. Our work is done for each other, and also WITH each other.
As I scrubbed my shower, from the extremely humble position of my hands and knees, and one son entered the room to empty the trash can, he brought up something he had been pondering from our Yuleschool lessons. As he left my presence, I sat back on my heels and praised God. I praised Him for this work, in which I image His ability to create clean things where once everything was dirty. I praised Him for my home and my neighbors that reside here with me. I praised Him for the ways in which He does His work through community and through the very people whom dirty up the spaces I am now making clean yet again. I praised Him for my limitations, which press me into full dependency upon Him. And, I praised Him for the intersection between our home education and the rest of our lives together.
Minutes later, my other son requested my help sweeping the porch, and I was given the opportunity to feel the tension between the people in my home and the work that I do for those people, and to choose to prefer my littlest, closest neighbor in honor as I spoke with grace and put aside my own tasks to help him with his. As he returned to his list to carry on with his work, I found myself again praising God. I praised Him for the ways in which motherhood and home education are intertwined. I praised Him for the great gift it is to be the one to guide human souls and hands in things as large as their theology, things as practical as their knowledge of mathematical processes, and things as small as their ability to efficiently use a broom. I praised Him for work that isn't forever, but that matters for eternity. I praised Him for his graceful glimpses of what is really happening between loads of laundry in both the temporary dwelling of this home and also the eternally permanent hearts of humans who are, indeed, my neighbors and my siblings in Christ.
My work matters, and so does yours, Momma. It doesn't matter because it is your identity, your value, or your god. It doesn't matter because it gives you a sense of accomplishment or the ability to shine on the stage of social media.
It matters because you are loving your neighbor. You are loving your neighbor when you explain the difference between an adjective and an adverb, and you are loving your neighbor when you fold what seems like the 37th load of laundry today. You are loving your neighbor when you patiently listen to the painstaking process of phonetically processing every word on a page, and you are loving your neighbor when you dust and sweep and mop and scrub and freshen and tidy.
By loving your neighbor both through your science lessons and also your lessons in what laundry can be washed safely together, you are loving God. By serving your children, and also teaching them to serve, you are serving God. This, more than anything else, ensures that your work matters.
This mattering, is a gift. This love and the ability to show it, is a gift. This work, and its array of manifestations and challenges and joys and sanctification and trials and triumphs, is a gift.
These neighbors of yours eat the meals that you prepare, wear the clothes that you launder, do projects on surfaces and in spaces that you tidy, use dishes that you wash, and walk on floors that you scrub clean, and this is a gift to both them and to you. The neighbors you serve, and the ways in which you serve alongside them, are God's good and perfect gift to you.
Praise Him, and serve Him today by serving these neighbors with a heart of gratitude for the gift of home education and its ability to sometimes look like an art tutorial and to other times look like a bucket of cleaning supplies.