“How was James’ first day?” I asked a friend recently.
“Oh, you know, he had some trouble getting on the right bus …” she started to tell me, and then she stopped talking, and her eyes filled with tears.
My friend’s sudden emotion did not surprise me. This is a hard time of year. Whether we’re sending little kids to kindergarten or big kids to college or figuring out homeschooling or trying a new charter school or enrolling in online education, we’re all adjusting to big changes. It can be hard to find peace in the midst of all that.
What Keeps You Up at Night?
Years ago, at the start of a new school year, I read an article by a Christian homeschooling dad who had decided, for a variety of reasons, that homeschooling was actually harmful to his family. He was choosing to send his kids to school instead, and encouraged others to take a hard look at what he called “blind spots” in our family lives—the negative consequences of our decisions, the gaps in our plans, and important things that might be falling through the cracks.
I didn’t actually need encouragement to look at those things. I was lying awake most nights worrying about them.
It’s important to weigh consequences, seek outside opinions, and examine our motives as parents, but in my experience, most of us are doing a lot of that already. And we’re tired. Tired of being second-guessed and being encouraged to second-guess ourselves. Tired of feeling defensive about parenting decisions. Tired of being warned about all the ways that, despite good intentions and exhaustive efforts, we are probably failing at this Catholic family thing.
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An Invitation Into Greater Trust
Well, I’m here to tell you that you are not failing, and to remind you to trust in the goodness of God. One of the most powerful prayers I have learned to pray as a parent is: “Lord, glorify Yourself in my need.”
God can use imperfect parents who make imperfect decisions to accomplish mighty things. He fills in where we are lacking.
Years ago, when I read that writer’s description of how he and his wife regretted putting outward appearances before love in their own family, I knew that failures like these had little to do with schooling decisions. They weren’t homeschooling blind spots; they were human ones.
We’re all blind. We all judge when we shouldn’t, make selfish and prideful decisions, fall down in our faith, and fail at love. We all get tired.God can use imperfect parents who make imperfect decisions to accomplish mighty things. He fills in where we are lacking. #BISblog Click To Tweet
We Don’t Do This Alone
But, whatever changes or decisions might be stressing you at the start of this school year, let’s remember that God doesn’t throw our children into our arms and tell us, “Hey, good luck with these! You’re all they’ve got!”
God is with us. We are not all they’ve got. Thank You, God, for that.
Are you tired this back-to-school season? Tired from late nights and early mornings? Tired from the draining demands of work, home, and family?
God sees you. And he can be glorified in your need.
Grace Enough for Right Now
One recent evening, I entered the kitchen and found a greasy mess left from dinner. I grabbed a sponge and began scrubbing the stovetop. While I scrubbed, one of my daughters returned home from an evening out with friends and filled my ears with cheerful stories of her day.
Tired or not, in that moment there, I had strength enough to clean a stovetop, one greasy spot at a time, and give attention to my happy daughter.
I don’t have enough love for a lifetime. Not even close. God doesn’t give me all the grace I need for a great big lifetime in a great big family all at once. He gives me love enough, and grace enough, for right here, right now, one greasy little spot at a time.
Mother Teresa once said, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”
Just one. The one standing before you right now.
Whatever it is that makes us tired these days, I’ve come to realize that it’s not about the specifics. It’s not homeschooling or sending to school or working from home or getting all the kids to soccer practice that is especially hard. It’s just plain loving that is especially hard. But it’s a joyful privilege too. I pray for perspective, so that I might not fail to see that.
A Greater Love
Especially during the back-to-school season of challenge and change, all parents should lean hard on God’s grace. Because though our details might differ, God calls every one of us to sacrificial love through our family lives. And that’s not likely to come easy to any of us.
God doesn’t give us grace sufficient for a lifetime. He gives us grace sufficient for a day, and we can respond to that grace, one little yes at a time.