HOPE for the Weary Homeschool Mom
by Heidi St. John
So, it was on my list to write about Homeschooling for Rookies and I was almost done when I felt a gentle nudge. Okay. It was more of a punch in the gut. It started out when I went to write down all the stuff I had to do for our 18th year of homeschooling.
All of the sudden, I was overwhelmed. Tired. Discouraged. Undone. Rookieschmookie. I wasn’t sure I could encourage a new homeschooler. I needed someone to encourage me!
I didn’t want to teach math anymore. The thought made me feel sick. After two major surgeries in less than nine months and a major transition in our ministry, I realized I was more tired than I wanted to admit. I didn’t care if my four left at home ever learned long division or even how to add for that matter. The wall of curriculum seemed to be laughing at me. I sat down on the floor—and I cried.
Yep. Me. Heidi St. John. Some people know me as “The Busy Mom.” I’ve been called “super mom” (entirely unwarranted, by the way) and people have wondered out loud to me about how I appear to do “it all.” (I don’t, by the way.) I love homeschooling. I love homeschool moms and I really love speaking to and encouraging them. But I was done. Done on a hundred different levels.
It wasn’t exactly an Instagram worthy moment. Or was it? Sometimes, as Amy Grant sang so beautifully, a broken mom crying on her carpet is better than a “hallelujah.”
And I was there. Crying on the schoolroom floor. The pressure to perform felt like a stone that had been tied around my neck. “What would people think if I quit? What would that say about my commitment to homeschooling? What would they say about me?” I couldn’t breathe.
Why am I telling you this? Here’s why: we all have bad days. We all want to quit at one time or another—but vastly more important than that is the fact that we all have to hear from God for ourselves and then follow His leading in obedience. If you’re homeschooling for the approval or accolades of others, or so that you can tell people you homeschooled your kids, you’re in it for the wrong reason. Period. If
you’re doing it so that your kids will never stray from their faith, you’ve been misled. Homeschooling is not going to save your kids. God does that.
In my brokenness, God was showing me something. I must not live to pleaseanyone but Him. I had to get my heart right before the Lord if I was going to hear from Him above the aching in my flesh. I had to confess that I had become more concerned with what people might think of me than with what God wanted me to do.
I had to tell God that I would do whatever He wanted—even if that meant I needed to stop homeschooling. In the end, my life is the Lords—and I knew I needed to ask Him, as I had done so many years ago, if this was what He wanted me to do.
Back to the drawing board I went. I did what may seem unthinkable to some of you; I downloaded the public school information from the Internet and set it on my table. I looked into a private school. I even got the catalog from our local public school “partner” program. I read all that information from cover to cover.
Now lest you think my sweet husband was left out of this, he wasn’t. He was tired of watching his wife crying and complaining. He encouraged me to seek the Lord. *hello* So that’s what I did. I prayed. I read God’s Word. I asked for reinforcements by opening my broken heart up to a few women who I knew would pray for me.
And I waited. Waited for confirmation. Waited for peace. Waited for God to show up. Psalm 33:20-22 says that we “wait” in “hope” for the Lord because He is our help. I began to wonder if my hope had begun to slowly be misplaced. It sure didn’t feel as if I was hoping in the Lord. I was hoping that God would let me off the hook.
Honestly? I wanted God to say it was time to send the kids to school. I really did. But as I prayed over those public and private school schedules and poured my tired, overwhelmed heart out to God, He did something amazing: He began to renew my spirit. I can honestly say now that if God had asked me to put my kids in school I would have done it gladly—but He gave me no peace as I poured over all my options.
He was asking me to rely on Him. He was asking me to put my hope in Him. Easy to say. Not always so easy to do. God’s strength is not only made perfect in weakness, it’s actually found there. If you feel weak right now, then you’re right where He can work best. It reminds me of the line “perfect submission—all is at rest.” God’s asking us to walk in utter submission to His perfect will for us.
So if you’re that tired, burned out, weary homeschool mom who wants to quit, this article is for you. The issue is not whether or not you homeschool. The issue is obedience. If you’re like me, and He’s asked you to homeschool then He’s already given you what you need to do what He’s asking—and He’ll keep giving you what you need for as long as you need it.
My strong belief is that homeschooling done right should not run us over and leave us on the side of the road for dead. That’s homeschooling done in human strength, not God’s. Like you, I need God’s strength, wisdom and direction.
If you’re waiting for a conclusion to my story: here it is. God has renewed my heart. He’s shown me that I don’t have to impress anyone but Him. Of course I knew that already, but I needed to hear it again. His yoke is easy. His burden is light. In response to God’s tender leading, I’ve chosen to mellow out a bit this year. We’ll be doing a little less book work and I’ll bet getting a little more help with my son who is entering his Senior year of high school.
This will be my third child to fly the nest. Time is precious and fleeting, isn’t it? I don’t know about you, but I want to be found spending my life the way God wants me to spend it. Trying to please anyone but God is exhausting and unsatisfying. Following God, though, is a journey worth taking. That’s where your hope is found. That’s where strength is. That is where you will find the perseverance you need to go the distance on this journey God has you on.
Maybe if we all gave each other grace and permission to be weary, we’d all begin to find out—again—where strength truly begins. You are loved, precious mom. Lean in to your Creator. Learn to listen. Rest. Be still—and the rest will come. Strength for the weary homeschool mom is found in Jesus. Seek Him with all your heart. The road doesn’t have to be easy to be blessed. And you don’t have to be strong. God will be strong through you.
Heidi St. John has been married to her husband Jay since 1989. Together they have seven children and one grandson! The St. Johns’ children range in age fromunder five to adult. They have homeschooled kids all the way through high school. A favorite conference and radio speaker, Heidi approaches marriage and parenting with humor and grace. www.thebusymom.com