As the new calendar year and the second half of my homeschool year get underway, I’ve been thinking about what’s going well for my family and what might need to be changed. You may have heard this quote by Oswald Chambers:
In seeking the Best we soon find that our enemy is our good things, not our bad. The things that keep us back from God’s best are not sin and imperfection, but the things that are right and good and noble from the natural standpoint…Very few of us debate with the sordid and evil and wrong, but we do debate with the good.
It’s so easy to look at other moms and think they have everything together. Their houses are always clean, their clothes are always washed (and folded, and put away!), their children always behave, and their kids’ school work always gets done and done well. But that’s not the truth!
Years ago, my husband and I built our house. Because of some unavoidable delays, our construction began in August of that year. On top of that, our contractor became very sick and wasn’t able to do his job, so the job of contracting fell to me. The months from August through December (when we moved into our house) were ridiculously busy!
We did what little school we could do during the construction of our house, but the main part of our school year happened after we moved in. That meant we did the bulk of our homeschooling from January through May that year. I somehow made it through the school year, but the following summer, everything fell apart.
I began suffering from depression and anxiety attacks. I couldn’t sleep and was extremely tired all the time. I think all of the stress I had been under from August to May (when I couldn’t allow myself to “break down” because I was too busy) finally caught up with me. Even though I had finally been able to build and move into the home I’d been looking forward to for many years, I felt overwhelmed and anxious and sad. It took months and months to begin to feel like my “normal” self again.
We moms, and especially homeschooling moms, have a tendency to try to do it all! As the quote above states, we let the business of “doing what’s good” get in the way of God’s best for us. It’s not that we are tempted to do bad things. We willingly avoid doing bad things. Many times, though, we try to do too many “good” things. I caused myself months of pain because I was trying to do too many good things.
I decided before the summer began that I was going to take the entire summer off to rest (as much as a mom can) and clear my calendar of any commitments at all. I knew I absolutely had to have some time to slow down and not do so many things, even if they were good, so that I could get recharged before the next homeschool year began.
It turned out to be a wonderful summer. I really did keep my commitment to only those things that HAD to be done–like grocery shopping and house cleaning. We didn’t do lots of play dates or extra-curricular activities or much of anything else except church. Even at church I didn’t commit to teaching any classes or planning anything. I felt terrible about suddenly giving up most of my leadership positions, but looking back, it was the right thing to do for a time.
As the new year gets underway, I’m keeping in mind that I need to be sure doing what’s good doesn’t get in the way of doing what’s best.
My house is not always clean, and the dishes aren’t always done. Sometimes the school work must even wait until another day. God is speaking to me, though, and letting me know that it’s all ok. My main “job” right now is loving and caring for my husband and my children.
The next time you begin to feel stressed and worried and anxious, stop and ask yourself not if you are doing bad things, but if you might be doing too many good things. Then pray and ask God to show you which good things you should lay down and which ones you should continue doing. It may be that you are going to too many homeschool play days, activities, or classes. It may be that you are trying to keep the house spotlessly clean. It may be that you have too many leadership positions at church or somewhere else. God can and will show you which things you really should be doing and which ones you really shouldn’t be doing if you will allow Him to do so. Then, you will be in a position to receive God’s best for your family. And that’s a very good thing!