This week has been challenging. While I battle away at trying to "educate" in two settings that are vastly different from each other (one at a public school, but not your "typical" pubic school, and the other at homeschool), I often find myself feeling too tired to give my all to one or the other. Because my day starts with the school outside of my own home, and it takes place primarily in the morning (my peak productivity time), I find my energy levels to be lower than I'd like them to be when I approach my tasks at homeschool.
For the record, our homeschooling is right "on track", according to the plan that we created for the boys at the beginning of the year. I believe they are learning and they are growing as individuals. They are developing key relationships with other kids, and I am forever impressed by their ability to adapt to new situations they are placed in. If you had seen either of my boys as Kindergarten students being dropped off each day by a distraught mother, you might not even recognize these young men that I call my sons. There has been a growth in them that I once thought was impossible. That's grace.
However, there are moments that I ponder what I'm doing, how we got "here", and where we go from here. While I don't allow myself to become consumed with the "what, ifs, ands and buts" of the future, I do look far enough ahead with a sensibility known as common sense, to ensure that a plan is in place for my boys to have every chance any other 18-year old has when they graduate from high school, to begin the adventure of the real world.
Honestly, a huge percentage of my heart just wants to keep them here. Like this. Forever. But I know that can't happen, and it won't happen. They are going to grow-up and make a life for themselves. As much as I internally fight this natural progression, it is going to eventually arrive. And somehow between now and then, they need to gain enough maturity, skill, resilience, knowledge and understanding that an 18-year old male can gain while living for 18 years of their lives with two parents who are not so graceful. I wish I could embed into their minds, all of the life-experience knowledge I have gained between my own years of 18 - 40, but that is impossible. They need to experience their own hopes, defeats, joys, heartaches, victories, rejections, fulfillment of dreams . . . their own lives . . . along the way.
As a parent it feels like a daunting task to do all of this "preparation". Fortunately for our kids, parents are not "Puppeteers", but rather, "Preparers". In my own little world of parenting, there are many times that I am not so graceful, and my boys see it, they hear it, they know it. My role as "Preparer" doesn't always meet the job description.
At the beginning of this post I mentioned that this week has been challenging, and then I started rambling on about parenting, my boys, etc., which isn't exactly where I thought this post was going to begin, but that's just what came out as I typed. And so now I will try to tie that all into what I was going to say in the first place.
What I really wanted to share about was how my own inability to display grace when it is most needed, came to light just last night. I was thrown into a situation in which I was unprepared mentally for, and I found myself becoming more and more bitter towards a certain person as the evening progressed. I felt very used and didn't think there was much fairness involved in what was occurring. Grace was not present in my heart, and even though the words, "Grace Lives Here" were trying desperately to get through to my inner being, I chose to ignore that plea, which was actually God's attempt at restoring my heart to a place of displaying a servant attitude. Instead, what transpired was not pretty, and I am now going to have to go back and make some attempts to restore a relationship that was tainted by my lack of grace.
After reflecting on the entire incident, I began to realize that while I had reason to feel hurt by what had happened, grace needed to prevail. Words from Max Lucado's book, Grace, came to mind, and I quote from the book: "Grace is not blind. It sees the hurt full well. But grace chooses to see God's forgiveness even more. It refuses to allow hurts to poison the heart. 'See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.' (Hebrews 12:15 NIV). Where grace is lacking, bitterness abounds. Where grace abounds, forgiveness grows."
The sad part for me in all of this is that my children were witness to my growing anger and bitterness. While I try to set a good example for them to follow, I frequently finding myself failing to demonstrate grace towards others in the presence of my children. Grace towards them (my children) comes easier than it does to "outsiders". Maybe that's normal for a lot of parents, but I don't necessarily think it is right.
Back to my earlier ramblings about preparing my boys for the real world, I truly hope that the preparation I focus on most is that of their hearts. Relationships are key to a future that allows God's purposes to be fulfilled in the lives of my boys and in the lives of those around them. In order for those relationships to be successful, grace is required. I pray that my life becomes a better example of grace.