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Grace is scary. When we think of extending grace to our kids, we tend to fall into the trap of believing it's an either/or thing, but the reality is, grace delivers us from the demands of the law - it doesn't get rid of the rules that bring peace and order to our homes.
Our kids need boundaries and we need rules to live by, but within those rules and boundaries lies our humanity and tendency to blow it. And then we need grace. The problem with extending grace to our kids for most of us is that we fear they'll take advantage of it. Or us. Good thing for us Jesus let us take advantage of Him.
And then there's the fear, often driven by the propaganda spread rampantly by the homeschool movement in general. I'm not going to point fingers specifically, but over the decade-and-a-half that we've been insiders in this movement, I've heard, seen, and experienced more fear-mongoring than any political campaign, rally, or commercial set to motivate its observers by the fear it creates.
Fear that motivates questions like those I recently found in my inbox. I asked the sender if I could write about her questions here, and she graciously said I could in case any of you are struggling as she has been. As I once was, bound up in the fear of man and believing that everything but the grace of God was going to do a work of righteousness in the hearts of my kids.
She asked: "I guess my question is, having been to a church where everyone lives this lifestyle, did it seem like a "ticket" to having children who grow up Godly?"
Yep. In a lot of ways, we shifted our hope from Jesus and the work He does in our/our kids' lives to all the things we thought we had to do right in order for them to turn out right.
"To try to jump through all of those hoops [of choosing to DO the "right" things as a homeschooler] makes me feel irritable with my family and lacking joy because I feel fear, lack of freedom, and like I have to constantly be managing everyone. It zaps a lot of joy out of my life and makes me a grumpier mom."
Totally. I was trying so hard to do everything right and neglecting the unique way God has made them. I realized at some point that I wanted my kids to be free to serve God, whatever that looked like, and it probably wasn't going to look like courtship and khaki pants. [Neither of which I think are wrong. They're just not our family]
"Yet, it seems like the families who do take all the time to really shelter their kids have great kids. Have you seen a lot of these kids walking with the Lord in their later years?"
We've seen a lot of Phariseeism. We've seen a lot of teens living one way at church but lying behind their parents backs. We've seen a lot of them criticize and judge their peers to make themselves look better in front of the adults. I want my kids to know and love Jesus, not a system or a religion. I want them to be freed from performance-based Christianity, because when Jesus died for them on Calvary, He said, "It is finished".
"I long to live free, but have this nagging in my brain that I have to shelter, shelter, shelter to have them turn out right. I know it's a lie, but your insights would be helpful. I know that with all of your years of raising kids, you've probably seen a lot of things and have a lot more knowledge than I. I know that trusting in a formula is not having faith in Him to do the work in our children."
Yep :) Give Them Grace might be helpful- have you read it? Living in the overflow of God's love, telling my kids how immeasurably loved they are by the One who created them, telling them that their identity is in Christ and nowhere else, pointing them to the One who loves their souls and reminding them that when God looks at them, He sees Jesus . . . these have been words of life and love and freedom in our home. Our older kids love Jesus passionately. They did not just a few years ago.
For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you: when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned; neither shall the flame scorch you. Isaiah 43:2