Day 31: 3 Simple Truths to Bring You Back Home When You’re Stressed About Educational Decisions

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While you’re stressing over college prep versus AP or the classical private school vs. the public charter school, there’s a single parent who’s simply grateful for public school, afternoon care, and the school bus.

As I mutter about my school frustrations, there’s a mom half a world away who knows that the education of her children is the ticket for her family’s survival. In developing countries, every additional year of education can increase a person’s future income by an average of 10%.*

And guess how much of the world even holds college degrees? Less than 7%.

It’s all relative, isn’t it? When we’re surrounded by privilege {and if you’re reading this, you’re probably in the top 4-5 percent of the world’s wealthiest}, our grasp on the essentials is rather skewed. I’m not saying our decisions don’t matter because they absolutely do. And I’m definitely not saying God doesn’t care about our American middle-class concerns simply because there are needier people to worry about. He cares so much. If He knows when a hair falls from our head, how much more does He care about the education of our children? But our definition of the “best” for our kids and His definition of the “best” aren’t always the same. 

In the midst of decisions and stress, it’s helpful to take a step back and consider the basics. For me, simple truths can serve as a reset button when I don’t know which way is up. Maybe it’s the same way for you. Here are three perspective-builders when indecision swirls within your head and anxiety grabs hold of your heart:

1. Parents around the world would sacrifice everything for the options that we actually deem sub-par.

Sometimes we have to rest in what should be the most obvious truth but is often the most overlooked: our kids are getting an education. And not only are they getting an education, we actually have options about the kind of education they’ll receive. These are luxuries in most of the world. I don’t write these words to induce guilt. I write them to invite gratitude.

2. Education is so much more than thirteen years plus a college degree.

We talked about this on Day 29. Education is the hard flint of our everyday lives that carve our unique personhood. Education is both natural science and natural consequences. It’s studying calculus in the classroom and practicing compassion within our families.

Education begins the day we’re born and continues until the day we die. Let’s not insult the richness and beauty of education by reducing it to 16 short years of academia. Education is a life. The most brilliant scholars will never know the intricacies of how you got to be you. They’ll never be able to plumb the depths of redemption in your life. We all have so much to offer one another and the world. And our truest offerings have little to do with the sort of education we received and much to do with the character and compassion that’s grown out of adversity and real-life experience.

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3. We accept what we have and also what we lack.

We give our children what we have and trust that it is enough. We make the best decisions within our means and trust that they are enough too. I’m betting that you actually give so much more than enough.

And we accept what we don’t have –whether it’s money, energy, “better” options, health, or stability.

In so doing, we trust that our lack is just as much a part of God’s equation as our abundance.

This is the theme of my life. Because sometimes, God re-routes us in ways that feel like failure but are actually grace. 

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I don’t want to oversimplify complicated decisions but I don’t want to overcomplicate them either. When you’re feeling stressed about these issues, look at what you already have. Breathe in the gifts and exhale gratitude.

It’s going to be okay.

Thank you so much for joining me for this series. Thank you for your encouraging comments, e-mails, and “likes” that inspired me to keep going. Whether you read one post or all 31, I hope you found grace and encouragement. If you missed any of the posts, go here to see a complete list. And if you ever want to check back and read more of the series, just click on the “Cool About School” tab at the top of the page.

Things will be quiet on the blog here for just a bit but I’ll be back with all kinds of stuff I’ve been storing up for you during the month of October.

For other posts I’ve written on this topic of school, go here.

I’ve linked up with The Nester and her tribe of 31 Dayers.

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 * United Nations Educational Scientific And Cultural Organization. “Reaching out-of-school Children is Crucial for Development.” UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS). Accessed April 8, 2014.

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