The old adage “never say never” came home to roost several years ago when I homeschooled my son for one academic year. Prior to that, several of my friends who said they “received the calling,” often regaled me with their adventures in teaching while I happily ushered my children off to the public elementary school, vowing that I would never, ever, absolutely no-sir, dare to take on the momentous task of education of my children. Sitting through a condo timeshare presentation in the Mojave Desert seemed like a luxurious indulgence in comparison.
But here’s the thing: One must be extremely careful never to say things like, “I would never….” Why? Because that puts ourselves in the driver’s seat, not God. Here I was, so glad that I could finally have some independence as my kids were both in elementary school. No more diapers or little tykes under my feet. I felt like I could finally enjoy my time while they were away at school and then have the energy to care for them after they came home.
However, now my son was going through some turbulent health and emotional issues, and after we met with a Christian counselor, the idea of homeschooling for the remainder of the school year came up. My little guy was surprisingly for it, and it was up to me to decide. I struggled.
Knowing I would have one of the greatest challenges ahead of me, I immediately joined the local Moms in Prayer homeschool group. While the kids played in the backyard, we moms prayed with groanings like you wouldn’t believe.
You see, this third grader and I were battling wits on a regular basis. An easygoing nature was definitely not one of his spiritual gifts. Each night at dinner he was either picking at his food, talking back, or getting up from the table for no apparent reason. The thought of having to prepare lesson plans in my little spare time and spend time each day trying to homeschool him filled me with dread. On top of that, the nutritionist we were working with had him starting a strict regimen of foods that I had to prepare daily.
Our homeschool year began with great enthusiasm for us both. He knew it would be a privilege to be at home and to have less stress than being in a traditional classroom setting. And because he needed more rest than usual, the idea of sleeping in every day until he was strong enough to wake up, truly made him more accommodating.
My lesson plans were creative, filled with hands-on science experiments, math games using playing cards, and unique field trips that included interviewing the mayor of our city. But pretty soon, he and I were locking horns in an unwinnable battle. As days turned into weeks, and weeks rolled into months, I began to burn out.
“Are we done with school yet? What time will we finish?”
“No, honey. We’re not done. We have two more hours.”
“Awww… Can I play video games when I’m done?”
“No, no video games until the weekend.”
“Awww… Can we finish school early today?”
One morning with very little sleep in my arsenal, my son came to the kitchen counter to eat breakfast, and he started the day by complaining. Not knowing what to say, feeling as if I were at the end of my rope, I simply wept. “Honey, what are we going to do? Mommy doesn’t know how to help you anymore.” “Mom, I don’t care what you do, but please don’t ever give up on me, okay?”
The sound of those humble words became my rallying cry. It was as if God Himself was cutting through the cobwebs of self-pity, lifting up my chin and causing me to look heavenward. If the Holy, Almighty God of the universe would never give up on sinful, self-absorbed me, He would provide infinite resources to never give up on my son, no matter how emotionally drained I was, no matter how inadequate I felt as a mother.
From that point on I stopped feeling sorry for the both of us. I did get “the call” from the Lord, not the homeschool call, but the one to never give up on my children and to persevere with Christ at the helm. We finished the year, closer than ever before, and me with a deeper understanding of the depths of God’s unrelenting love.
“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance proven character, and proven character hope; and hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:3-5
Kathy Chin Leong, a Moms in Prayer mom since 1996, is an award-winning travel writer with work published in National Geographic books, Sunset Magazine, Los Angeles Times, and many other publications. She is married to her sweetheart Frank Leong and has two grown children.