my big girl pants – Job 38:2

posted in: Autism, Faith, Homeschooling | 0

In many ways I see social media as being really a negative use of my time. But sometimes, God clearly uses it to speak to me about my issues.

Homeschooling is hard work. It was easy and really a lot of fun in the beginning – we started with my oldest being 4 and after he has been in private preschool for half a year. I know there is no reason that five years later homeschooling can’t still be fun (that’s another post altogether) – however, even when I am intentionally following my children’s interests…it’s still hard work and much of the time, as the mom, it’s not what I would call “fun.”

One of the biggest struggles over the past year has been my oldest. Not only is he about to be ten and just beginning to get an attitude (or more of an attitude?!) about everything, but the kid has real barriers in his brain emotionally and cognitively – thank you autism. This makes learning – and just living in the same space with him – a daily struggle for him AND the rest of us.

So many times I have prayed to God, hoping He’d give clear direction to send him to school. Let others handle his behaviors and melt downs and need for precise routine. Because in a house of seven people – precise routines and definitive time schedules are not often…okay NEVER…a reality.

Lately I’ve been feeling these frustrations more than usual. I’ve been wanting so badly to just ship him off and let others deal with him. And his little brother who is also on the spectrum. Maybe they could help them more than I can. Maybe the public schools are better equipped to deal with their learning struggles. Maybe, maybe, what if, what if…

Then, in the middle of this petty party, I was perusing posts in a Facebook group for homeschoolers in my area. It’s a very diverse group of moms – every homeschooling style is represented, every combo of public-home-private cooperation, and every kind of faith (or lack thereof). So it’s not always an “uplifting” place to go as a Christian momma who feels God has called to to this hard thing of homeschooling.

***

…Anyhow, there was a mom asking for advice for sending her son (with autism) to public school AFTER having homeschooled him for several years. Why did she want to do that? Because he’s got an attitude and it’s wearing her thin. (Sound familiar?!)

Another mom chimes in and says, “do what’s best for each child individually – we homeschool our daughter and send our son with autism to public school because they are more equipped to handle him.”

Then many other moms chimed in with something to the same affect.

***

MORE EQUIPPED TO HANDLE HIM?! How’s that, exactly? Who is better equipped to teach your child who has needs that differ from those around him? Who cares as much as you? Who will try as hard as you so that they are able to learn on their level and in their time?

Suddenly, I am struck with the most offensive sense that what some of these moms are saying –when you get right down to it– is that they send their kids with special needs to school because it’s just too hard to educate them at home, let alone have them to deal with 24/7. Believe me – I HEAR THAT! And I realize not everyone homeschools for the reasons or with the convictions that we do.

But good golly – why would I look at public/private school as a way to get a break from my difficult or special needs child?!

Oh duh, yeah I am constantly complaining to God about how I’d just like to send them off to public school. I’ve been spending countless hours trying to convince Him, and myself, that it would be better for my autistic kids and for me and for us all.

SHAMEFUL MOMENT!

I was that same mom – I AM that same mom.

The one with the son who is just too much most of the time and wants to, basically – GET RID OF HIM for seven hours a day. I wanted to get “support” from the public school who can “deal” with his “needs” in ways I “can’t” as a mom who also has to educate and care for his four other siblings.

The reality of my whining and my selfishness and my faithlessness left a bitter taste in my mouth.

I was thinking selfishly because I didn’t feel like I had enough time to pursue the things I wanted, or the things I thought I should want – because I have to expend so much time and energy on my sons with special needs.

I was acting out of fear, not faith – because I was limiting my abilities to meet my son’s educational needs to MYSLEF. I was leaving God out of the situation completely. I thought I was in charge of handling him on my own. But I have been approaching it all backwards. Even though I know the “right” answers, I was still striving to do it all on my own without believing God was REALLY there to help.

I was believing that yes, God had blessed me with this challenging child and He would equip me with the things needed to succeed as his Mama. But then…what do I do next, how can I control this situation, how can I fix these meltdowns, how can I make him see, how can I, how can I…Too much “I” and not enough God.

  • He may never see things the way I want him to – because that’s not how God created him.
  • He may never stop insisting on certain routines or that certain orders and rules must be followed. But God uses passionate, determined people. Maybe I need to focus less on controlling him and focus more on helping him channel those strong desires into good character traits – like perseverance, truth, and honesty.
  • I will never be able to get a handle on all of the difficulties that arise with my special kids OR my neurotypical kids – because I’m not supposed to have the control: God is in control.

Because nothing puts life into perspective like God’s Word, I’m going to challenge you to read the book of Job. I’ve been following one of those read-the-whole-bible-in-a-year plans and just finished Job. It’s not the depressing book I always thought it to be. For me it’s been…extremely convicting. First of all, I’ve got nothing to complain about compared to Job. Secondly – I’ve been so like Job, and that’s not a good thing. He thought he knew everything. He was prideful and boastful. He thought he knew the reason behind why God would allow his suffering. But he didn’t – and God totally called him on it.

“Dress for acton like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to Me.” Job 38:2

(Becca’s in-head translation): “Put on your big girl pants and suck it up! I’m gonna tell you how it is – now what do you say?!”

God then proceeds to ask Job where he was when the world was formed or if he could do mighty and great things. Job basically says back “Nope, and I’m going to shut up now.”

And so have I.

Because I am NOT God. I do NOT know His plans for our family or for my children in this lifetime. I can’t even begin to guess at the reasons He thinks we can handle the scariness of physical birth defects and the challenges autism brings. I certainly never saw homeschooling or a large family in my future when I said “I do” thirteen years ago before God and friends and family.

But like education and family size, God is shattering the plan I had of the perfect and “right” way to disciple and raise kids – using the challenges of autism and who knows what else I don’t even realize yet.

And it’s very hard. I hate it some days. I whine and complain about how it’s not fair. I throw a little mommy-tantrum. (Truth.)

My selfishness and whining isn’t a very pretty thing to behold. I’m not going to quit doing what’s hard just because there’s an easy way out or because “everyone else is doing it.” Maybe other families are not convinced by God to be on the same road as we are; but God has called US into this homeschooling journey and until HE prompts us to do otherwise – I need to be all in, leaning on Him when it’s hard AND when it’s easy.

So what is it for you? What do you need to stop being prideful and controlling of and follow God in, regardless of the challenges?

Becca

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