Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Guilt-Free Zone

I did something for myself yesterday that was a first. I don't know why it was a first, really, but it was.

I was cleaning out our school closet, which was a HUGE mess. (No, that's the "first" I was talking about, but it looked like perhaps it was!) I knew even before I got started what I would find. I knew I would find what I always find: good intentions. Yes, my school shelves and filing cabinets are filled with them. I have such good intentions when I make plans, coordinate units, buy materials, print out ideas, make files. So, yesterday (and it has spilled into today as well!) the hall outside my school closet was lined with boxes of materials, binders of resources, plastic bins of supplies... all abounding with potential. But amid all of the "stuff" of which a homeschool is made, I found what I knew I would find: the unfinished. The never-done. The not-gonna-happen. Half-finished workbooks, abandoned science projects, books we never got to but now they are too old for.

But I was so glad I had done what I did ahead of time. I had strung up imaginary crime scene tape, cordoning off the area in my mind's eye: "The Guilt-Free Zone."

Conviction, yes. Guilt, no. As always, am I convicted that I need to be a better steward of the resources with which we've been blessed? Absolutely! Going through all of our materials is energizing me toward using more of what we have and giving me some ideas of how to do that. Guilt does just the opposite as conviction. Guilt weighs me down. Guilt says, "Who are you kidding? You can't do this!" "You know, I bet so-and-so did this project with her kids." "You're not doing as good a job homeschooling your kids as you should." Each one of those guilt-messages pushes me further and further down. In the past I have nodded my head in agreement. In the past I have absorbed the messages and believed them. But you know what? No amount of guilt has ever put the money back into our bank account. Guilt hasn't fueled well-taught lessons or energized me, the teacher. In facts, I daresay that the paralyzing drain of guilt is actually what has led to some of the unfinished work. Sometimes I don't even feel motivated to try. And that's how you know it's from the enemy. God convicts and pulls you up. The enemy heaps guilt and pulls you down.

I know it was a simple mindset that changed it all for me yesterday. Sort of a spiritual Teflon coating which made the guilt slide right off and not stick. It was the first time I had really tried it, and it was so freeing. My kids don't need a weighed down, self-condemning teacher who focuses on her own inadequacy. They need a confident, self-assured teacher who walks in victory. For me, the Teflon was focusing on what we have accomplished. Thinking of the areas in which my children are flourishing and ways that I am being consistent. Instead of focusing on the defeat of the past couple of years, I shifted my gaze to the victories (even the little ones) of the past few months. God was so faithful to bring them into my mind, and I was just as careful to give Him the glory.

So, this spring as you're tempted to take on the guilt of what you didn't get done with your kids this year, I encourage you to establish a "Guilt-Free Zone." Don't give guilt a foothold in your homeschool!


Amberly said...

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Sherri said...

Very well said.....thanks for the boost of motivation.
GO AWAY GUILT!! I think too many women let guilt eat at them. We carry it around like a third arm...afraid to put it down for fear of throwing off the balance of our lives! I'm glad you tossed yours aside. I pray that I can do it in more things too!!!


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