The first time I heard of the phrase, ‘teaching from a state of rest’ was about 6 years ago while I was listening to a Circe talk by, I believe, James Daniel. He said that the best things that homeschool moms could do for their children were to teach from a state of rest. I started to cry. That phrase was so inviting–it was calling out to me to follow those words and see where it would lead. I thought lots in the days to follow about what exactly teaching from rest would look like for our family. I realized that the major key for me was to trust that God would give me the wisdom, knowledge to educate my children. For me, it was all about trust. Well, trust and self-education. In order for God to use me in educating my children, I had to learn first the things that I wanted to teach my kids.
As years went by, that phrase became quite popular, it even became the subject of a book. I was quite confident in my teaching and my children’s learning. I knew that the Lord was leading me all the way.
But then things changed.
Anxiety and downright fear replaced the confidence. Even learning on my own and being well-prepared wouldn’t dissipate the fear. At times the fear paralyzed me. I was afraid that anything I did to educate my children would result in failure.
I have been thinking a great deal about this during the past few days. I have come up with a few reasons for my descent into that hole of fear.
1) high school. This was the beginning of the anxiety. When Emma began high school, I began to doubt my ability to teach her. I was afraid that we would not do well in the college admission dance, that we wouldn’t be able to scrounge up enough credits, and the SATs? Oh, boy, that was a whole ‘nother track of anxiety to deal with.
2) Well-meaning (yeah, we’ll go with that) relatives who try to persuade me that my children would do better in school.
3) hurtful words. Someone deemed it their responsibility to tell me that I was not a good teacher for my kids. I wasn’t smart enough to teach my children properly. (I know, my breath caught hard when those words were thrown at me.)
4) my children’s learning challenges. These challenges weren’t that obvious when they were younger but now that they are doing middle school and high school work, the challenges are glaringly obvious. It is hard work to try to figure out how to help them. And it is scarier than words can express to wonder how they will fare in a post-secondary education atmosphere.
These four things have robbed me of my peace and my rest.
Can I tell you how relieved I am to finally figure out what the culprits are. So relieved.
But now what?
The key to gaining my rest back is found in a few things. The first, of course, is covering myself in His Word. I have been dipping into the world of the Benedictine Monks and have been praying through the Psalms on a daily (or more) basis. I am trying to be more present when I read through these verses and am trying to hold them over to the happenings of my day. That has been comforting for me, calming.
As with all things, gratitude is key in dealing with stress and anxiety. Praising Him causes you to take your eyes off of yourself and put them on Him, the author and perfecter of your faith. That is where the focus needs to be. This is where trust is restored.
This next thing isn’t as easy to turn around: stop focusing on transcripts, credits, book lists, etc. and turn attentions to ideas, virtue, cultivating wisdom, beauty, truth and goodness. Focusing on these things will allow the other utilitarian aspects of education take care of themselves, at least that is what I keep telling myself…over and over and over again. This one is the tricky one. It is so easy to fall back into the way that you were taught. Classical education? I am crawling my way through it. I don’t have a clue as to what I am doing is the right thing to do. It’s hard to have rest when you are flailing around in the dark.
And now we are back to where we began: trusting Him. I guess that is where we begin, taking a breath, showing up and allowing Him to do the rest. Show up with gratitude, praise and a willingness to go where He will lead.