Monday, April 11, 2005

Better Homes and Schooling

You quickly step out to get the mail. You open the box and spot it sticking out of the stack of letters. It's in there. There's no denying it's in there. It's The Mazagine. Ugh!

Oh, of all days, why did it have to come today? You promise yourself you won't look at it right now. You're not in the right frame of mind. But you can't resist. You pull it slowly out and glance at the cover. Oh, its worse than you even imagined. You want to throw it in the trash but you worry someone will find it. Oh, why today! You can't help but compare yourself and you don't look anything like her. Quick, your husband's coming! Better hide it in case he sees it too!

The latest swimsuit edition from a popular sports magazine? No, nothing that serious. It's just the latest issue of Better Homes and Schooling.

When I was a new homeschooler I could break out in a sweat over the dumbest things. And those magazines were a source of panic for me. I knew it was meant to encourage me. And it does. But I couldn't help but compare myself to the women and families and think of all the ways I came up short. It's not the magazines fault. They do their best to convey a realistic notion of home education. But inevitably I would compare myself and the people in the magazine seemed so Godly and perfect. I knew they weren't but their flaws seemed so minor compared to mine. I call it "Airbrushed homeschooling." Not addictive but dangerous to your mental health.

We all have a temptation to compare ourselves with those around us. Whether it be in a magazine, on the net, or at a conference, the urge to see how we measure up is always lurking around the corner to bring us down. But homeschooling is not about how others are doing. It's about how we're doing before the Lord. My family will look different than yours. That's a good thing. I can see this now that I've been doing it a while but in the beginning I compared and worried.Scripture tells us "Do not compare yourselves one to another". 2 Corinthians 10:12

I am sure God had mothers in mind when he wrote those words. The bible also teaches "Godliness with contentment is great gain." There are more than a few Godly mothers who are not very content because they are constantly thinking that they aren't not measuring up to some mythical standard. We are all unique. As a "seasoned" mother (meaning I've been in the fire longer so I have more burns!) I have learned to enjoy the differences and celebrate each others successes without the inner turmoil of feeling like I am not doing enough.

It took me a while to get to the place where I could accept the fact that I was not going to be the "perfect" mother. But at the same time, I am God's perfect choice to raise the children he has given me. When I keep my eyes fixed on Jesus I am less tempted to compare myself to others. When my heart is focused on the right things, the God things, I find true peace in my heart and liberty for my family to be who He intended us to be.

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