Day 4: When Ideals Become Idols. Part 2.

{This is part 2 of “When Ideals Become Idols.” To read part 1, go here.}

My many misgivings about public school prompted me to throw the baby out with the bathwater and prejudiced me against the very educational path we’re on now, one that’s serving us well.

Idols usually start out as good things. Things that we pursue because they possess a measure of joy, blessing, and beauty. Family, friendships, homes, education, financial provision — in and of themselves these are good gifts. Yet every single one of them can easily become an over-desire, an idol. We can become so fixated on how the good gifts are supposed to look for us that when they fail to measure up? We come a little undone.

So how do you know when a good thing has become an idol?

Well, you get brutally honest with yourself. You think about how you respond when you don’t get the good thing. Or when it doesn’t look the way it’s supposed to look. Or how you’d respond if it was one day taken away. You consider how you feel toward others who have the thing you don’t have but desperately want or think you deserve.

Quite simply, my children’s education had become an idol, an over-desire. I couldn’t imagine doing it a “lesser way.” It’s not that we were rocking it in our homeschool. I battled insecurity every day.  But still, homeschooling was my ideal. Naturally, fear and anxiety grabbed hold of me when I considered how I’d feel if I had to give it up one day.

And then that day came.

Real life — issues that had nothing to do with school or my children — rerouted our lives. I was homeschooling on a Thursday and the next Monday my kids were in public school.

The truth is, only a dramatic turn of events could have pried that idol from my hands. It’s not the first time God’s used that tactic with me. I’m a bit on the strong-willed side.

Only in retrospect could I see that this good thing had become a “one and only” thing.

Three years have passed since that difficult transition. Real life has changed up our family in ways I never imagined. But I’m so thankful. I’m not the same person. None of us are. School decisions that at first seemed like less-than-desirable alternatives have ended up working. And working well. Just as homeschooling was the gift of grace we needed eight years ago, public school became another gift of grace — one we desperately needed — five years later.

I’m here to testify that no one way is perfect. We had hard days and seasons when we homeschooled and we have hard days and seasons now in public school. Just this week I picked up a child from school and they proceeded to tell me about their day through bitter tears of frustration and disappointment. But guess what? We cried bitter tears during hard homeschool days too.

School isn’t necessarily what makes our days hard. Life is what makes our days hard. This world is broken. And there’s not one microscopic piece of life that its brokenness doesn’t penetrate. Sometimes we forget that. We think a method or a different school or homeschooling or new curriculum is the answer. And it may be an answer. But it’s not the ultimate answer. None of these things will be your savior because even the best alternatives will disappoint us in one way or another.

Dream your dreams. Do your research. Think through the things that matter to you for your children. Because they do matter. And in their proper place, these dreams can bear much fruit.

But ask yourself if you’re gripping them too tightly.

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For all the posts in this 31-day series, go here. And to read the other posts I’ve written on topic of schooling, you can go here and find them all in one place.

I’m linking up with The Nester and her tribe of 31 Dayers here.

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Comments

  1. says

    Yes, homeschooling became my idol and my pride got in the way big time. But God finally broke me, stripping me of everything I held so dear. Now, I am having to rebuild and it is amazing how much of my identity was wrapped up in this. Actually, kind of sad.

  2. says

    I’m so glad that God guides us in each stage of life and simply asks us to follow and trust Him. If only we could embrace that easily rather than clinging to our idols. Spoken from one who has known the white-knuckled grip of idol clutching in a several areas of life. 😉

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