Sunday, October 12, 2014

Insisting that “good kids should go to school to be a light and example to others” is ignorant and insulting to homeschoolers.

…which is probably not what you intended.  Nevertheless…

Despite the uptick in homeschooling in its various forms over the last couple of decades, there are still some myths and stereotypes that just won’t die.  I used to get a little hyper about all of them, but over the years, I’ve developed a thick skin and mostly tune them out... But, the myth that homeschoolers aren’t contributing positively to society by being out in it like the public schoolers are, and the implied judgment that homeschooling is morally inferior to public schooling makes my blood boil.

The idea that homeschooled children can’t possibly be/aren’t good examples and “lights unto the world” is based in the mistaken ideas that homeschoolers don’t ever leave their homes or get involved with the larger community. This simply isn’t true, but few public schoolers know this.. They just don’t have any idea what the homeschoolers are doing or where they are doing it, because they are AT SCHOOL. They assume that because the word “homeschool” has the word “home” in it, that HOME is where the homeschoolers are 24/7.This is as erroneous as assuming public schoolers are ALWAYS IN PUBLIC. But I digress…

Many homeschoolers will immediately defend their lifestyle by saying that before the kids can go out into the world to be a positive influence, their character must have been built and trained at home---and that you shouldn’t throw your children to the wolves, so to speak, while they are still in their tender, moral-development years.

This counter-argument is beside the point, AND insulting to the public schoolers, because you CAN send your kids to public school and they can be a positive influence to those around them. Absolutely. But homeschoolers can be and ARE every bit as much a “light unto the world” as their public schooled counterparts.  Just because a homeschooled student isn’t siting in a classroom with 25 other age-mates doesn’t mean they are not influencing those around them.

When they are home, for whatever amount of time, they are influencing and being influenced by their parents, siblings, and others who are at home with them.  When they are at the store, the gas station, at a community class, a co-op, at church---they are influencing and being influenced.  Their moral light shines just as much in these places as a good kid sitting in public school.

And, who decides who is worthy to be “shined” on? Who determines whether a homeschooled child’s forgiving a sibling, visiting an elderly friend, smiling at the store clerk, or playing with the neighbor kids isn’t as much a light as a public schooled child standing up to a bully, refraining from cheating on a test, or respecting teachers and custodians?

Are we not ALL in need of kindness and compassion and light?  Some who appear to be full of light are hiding anguish of the deepest darkness.  We really have no idea who we truly influence and how we may impact someone’s life, in whatever timeframe and to whatever depth. To assume that a good kid interacting in a public classroom has more positive influence on the world than a homeschooled student interacting with the librarian, or writing a senator, or chatting up the new kid at church, or working in the community garden with refugees, or volunteering at the animal shelter, or performing for veterans at the VA Home, is myopic and narrow-minded.

My homeschooled children’s social sphere may be different than that of public school kids, but that does not mean it is LESS THAN.  Their capacity and opportunities to be loving to the unloved, a joy to the saddened, a friend to the lonely, or compassionate to the anguished are just as great and just as valuable as any other’s. So let’s quit with the argument that it is morally superior to send your kid to public school.

No matter where you are or who you’re with, you will never lack opportunities to show compassion and light.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

2014: What Doesn’t Kill You…better start running.

Every year, starting around Thanksgiving, I get antsy for the new year.  I mean, I love Thanksgiving and Christmas, but when I’m standing in my kitchen, basting the turkey and wondering about the sicko who invented green bean casserole, I begin dreaming of January--when we’re past the holiday rush and repenting our goodie consumption (mea culpa!), pinning Fitspo and organizational tips on Pinterest. La-dee-da!

I love starting a New Year—and couldn’t wait to jump into 2014. I loved how others around me were excited, too. We were making plans to take 2014 by storm! The world is OUT THERE, and WE’RE RUNNING TO MEET IT!

I am lucky enough to be surrounded by amazing people every day who inspire me through their examples to be kinder, more forgiving, more perseverant, more helpful, thoughtful, and more full of wonder.  They remind me not to take myself too seriously. I love my amazing people and I am so grateful they are in my life.

We had plans. We were excited. We were READY to embrace the new!

But 2014 hit. HARD.

It’s barely March, and already, so many of my people have been piled up with profound losses and heartbreaks.  Nearly every day for the last two months, I learned of devastating things affecting friends and family. This is so not awesome. There are so many hard things. These things were not part of our plans!

I just want to scream and rage and pitch a fit at the unfair suckiness of it all.

I want to help, but in many cases, the only thing I can do is listen, pray, and cry with my hurting loved ones.

It solves nothing. But I hope it helps.

I firmly believe in a loving God, who wants us to return to Him. I firmly believe we have a Savior---Jesus Christ—who suffered and died for each and every person on Earth. I believe Jesus rose from the dead and lives again, so we can, too.  I believe we’re here---living our lives—to learn about the nature and purpose of God.  And part of that learning process involves dealing with pain and sorrow:

Learning to have faith when everything is falling apart.

Learning to forgive when we have been cut down and wounded.

Learning to find joy amidst the pain.

Learning to rely on God, who is perfect, and on each other, who are not.

Often, these are really craptastic lessons to have to learn. And not part of our plans! But I have faith that they are worth learning and that some day it will all make sense. Everything will be made right and whole…even if it’s not RIGHT NOW, dammit.

I don’t have solutions. But I offer my prayers, my tears, and my love. We are in this together—with enough arms and shoulders to carry each others’ burdens and lighten them.  In the midst of so much suffering, I have seen spectacular examples of grace and forgiveness. I have shared in the (dark) humor that keeps us laughing instead of crying. I have seen faith and love carry people across the country and into each others’ hearts.  I have seen prayers answered and hope born.

Together, my loves, we’ve got this.

2014, you got us down—this round. But we’re coming up swinging, and we’re gonna win.