So you’ve decided to homeschool.
Or, not allow sleepovers.
You don’t watch certain kinds of movies,
Or, you don’t own a TV at all.
Or maybe, even though they’re Christians, you’re convicted in ways that are obviously different from the convictions they have, or had.
- You can feel judged.
- They can feel judged.
- They can feel critical of what they see (or what they think they see).
- You can feel like they’re misinterpreting what they’re seeing because they’re not listening to, or not understanding, your reasoning.
It can be hard to have the right attitude.
Questions like this have helped me to more deeply analyze what’s happening in situations when people push against convictions:
- What is this person’s background? How does it differ from mine?
- Do they have any other history/circumstances that have influenced their view of this particular thing?
- Why did they arrive at the conclusions they did?
- What are the biblical principles at work for their side? For mine?
For example, if people look at our 9 kids, they could make assumptions about our lives. And they could ask intense questions that could make me feel exposed and judged, like:
- Why don’t they each get their own big birthday party every year?
- You mean your kids don’t get to do sports each year? Not even one per kid?
- Will you be able to pay for each of your kids to attend college?
- Don’t you think it’s important for kids to have their own rooms?
- Won’t your kids feel embarrassed to wear hand-me-downs and thrift store finds?
- Do you ever get time one-on-one with them?
But when I consider the questions above, it helps because I can counsel myself with a more full picture of the truth:
- This person had a disengaged, angry mom.
- Or maybe didn’t grow up in a Christian home.
- Or loved Little League and sees that as the central piece of childhood.
- Or was one of two children, neatly spaced 6 years apart so that by the time he/she was in school, their mom had full attention to devote to the next baby. This person just can’t fathom what it’s like to have so many children, so close together.
- Or… (fill in the blank)
The thing is–
I’m growing increasingly aware, with each passing year, just how WEIRD this wonderful and unusual life is that we’ve chosen. Those who haven’t lived it sometimes look on and see the LACK, and often fail to see the richness.
And when they do that, I’m also learning– it’s not necessarily my job to school them, explaining what they’re missing or not understanding. Rather, the more necessary job is to counsel my own heart rightly with the truth and not take on burdens that God hasn’t actually put on my plate.
I can’t be all things to all people, but I can be what He means for me to be, to the people He’s given me responsibilities to, by the power of His Spirit.
Years ago, one family member came to me and was concerned about a decision we’d made with one of our children. But as we talked, it was clear, that our situation was being compared back to that person’s past experiences with an overly-harsh, distant, barely-present parent.
With that person, I actually talked it through and pointed out,
“This is a different situation than what you’re describing, with a different kid. We spend 24/7 together. We laugh together. He still snuggles with me. We go on date nights fairly often, just the two of us. He asks hard questions of me, and I ask questions of him: we talk through all sorts of things. We have a great relationship. He needs firm boundaries, and knows it, and has submitted himself to this process of discipline, even amidst the hardness of this particular situation. YES, this is hard, but it’s not the same as your past relationship and situation.”
This helped, because (like I said) that person was taking our details and viewing them through a framework of strained relationships from their past.
At the same time, it may not help to go through a detailed explanation.
For most people, especially the first time they encounter your “weird” beliefs, they are absolutely NOT going to be convinced.
I’ve come to believe that most often, the best thing we can do is just quietly live out what we believe to be right. If we DO happen to be wrong, we won’t have gone around arrogantly talking about our choices and making a stink. But if we are doing what is right, or (at the very least) acceptable, it will be vindicated over time, through the fruit of wisdom.
But you know, you can’t blame the person who doesn’t understand.
Let’s say your mom is VERY suspicious of homeschooling, but you and your husband have decided that you want to homeschool your kids. Well here’s the deal: she only knows what she knows. If your mom only ever WENT AWAY to school, and then she only ever sent her own kids AWAY to school, then that’s all she knows.
Understand: I’m not being critical here.
I’m just saying… the person who has never homeschooled can’t fully understand what it’s like to be in that kind of relationship or that kind of home.
Simply observing a homeschooling family over the long-haul, with a long-range perspective (not: “what is the 6-year-old doing with phonics TODAY?” but: “is he making progress over two or three years?” ) can, possibly, significantly change their perspective. And even then, they will be marveling at something new/different to them, not really understanding it and all the inner-workings from the inside out.
Lately it’s been helping me to remember, though, that *I’m* the one who took a detour and decided to do the unusual thing. I’ve made choices that are sometimes difficult to understand. I can’t blame other people for not always getting it or seeing it from my perspective, ya know?
IN THE COMMENTS, PLEASE SHARE:
What helps you, or has helped you in the past, to work through your own thoughts and attitude, when your family or friends disapprove of your convictions or choices?