“Homier than thou!” A bunch of years ago, Mike Farris of HSLDA wrote an article about being “homier than thou” (a pun on the old phrase “holier than thou”) in which he cautioned home educating parents against arrogance and self-righteousness, especially when relating to other people who have chosen (or have no choice) to do things differently. I can’t remember all that he said, but the phrase stuck with me. Unfortunately, I find that it still applies. I read several blogs about Biblical womanhood, family life, and home schooling. I truly appreciate each one of them, but occasionally I stumble on a post or subsequent reader comments that make me cringe. Usually, the writer is trying to make a case for home schooling, or having a large “full quiver” family, or respecting your husband’s leadership, or following the courtship model, or training daughters to be “keepers at home” or whatever the worthy issue is. That’s good, up to a point. The problem is when this turns into a diatribe and ridicule against those who either may disagree with them or who are simply asking sincere but pointed questions because they really want to understand what all the fuss is about. This grieves me. This is not Christian grace or humility. It is not “speaking the truth in love.” I see it as a huge turn-off to those whom we really do want to win. As the old adage goes, “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” I’ve always treasured the home schooling lifestyle for the positive benefits that it can bring, rather than as a negative reaction against public schooling. Sure, I think home schooling is better! That’s why I’m doing it, despite all of the challenges! That’s why I spend so much time writing and speaking to encourage and equip other moms in this Grand Adventure. But that doesn’t mean that someone is “bad” or “brainwashed” if they don’t (or can’t) home school. (Yes, I have seen those exact words used…)
Coincidentally, my friend Stephanie sent me a note the other day which confirmed my thoughts: “I cannot thank you enough for your example of not only homeschooling, but of godliness and love. You never PUSHED homeschool on me or told me how awful it is to send your kid to public school or anything like that. Your children have flourished in both the collegiate and business worlds as well as in their social endeavours. You did what you believed God would have you do and did not push those beliefs onto others. I thank you for that. My children and I have been blessed by the years I was able to teach them and have them home 100% of the time. Starting my final year of homeschooling , that is why I wanted to say thank you to you for helping me travel down this glorious road.” Then my friend Michelle wrote just this morning, “You have been a wonderful inspiration, not because you are perfect , but because you are not, and you help me believe maybe I am really doing a good job.”
You see, we really don’t have to be obnoxious or strident to get our point across. When my younger kids bicker (as they often do) I remind them that the only thing you prove by calling someone an “IDIOT!!!!” is that you yourself are one. Of course I am preaching to myself as well! We simply cannot build ourselves up by tearing others down. We will only prove how immature we are! Maybe this little article itself will seem like a diatribe. It’s not meant to be. My aim is to bring a little necessary correction in an area where I too have been guilty. We home school moms can take a certain amount of satisfaction in how our children are turning out. I’m certainly proud of my ten terrific kids, even though I see their weaknesses and they definitely see mine! Where this parental contentment takes a turn for the worse is if we smugly give the impression that the reason why we are having so much outward success is because we are so good at what we do! Bosh! Whatever we do is sheerly by the grace of God. It is this grace that will also pick us up again after our pride leads to the inevitable downfall. If you ever get to the point where you recognize things in your own heart or your children’s lives that make you gasp in shock, then thank the Lord for his enlightening mercies! This is the opportunity to embrace the gracious gift of humility and to plead for his help. We need to be keenly aware of our continual dependence on God. Sometimes he allows these bumps — big and little –to shake us out of deathly complacency. Brokenness brings so many blessings, not the least of which is a new and deeper compassion for hurting people. You see, no matter how good things look on the outside, folks are struggling. We may hide it well, but we all have fissures beneath the surface. Some of us have even experienced internal earthquakes. I am full of gratitude for the very painful, eye-opening seasons of my life, even the ones that continue to make me gasp. They were (and are) the mercy of God to wake me up, to spur me to pursue change, to help me to bring compassionate grace and healing to others, to make me see how his power is perfected in my weakness. In our home school, it is Mom who is really being educated!
So, dear friends, whatever you do, “Do it well, but keep it humble!”
P.S. If the topic of humility and motherhood hits a tender spot, please read my article “Be It Ever So Humbling, There’s No Place Like Home”. Another short article related to legalism, “Your Unique Home School Family”, accompanies my poem “This is My Song and I Sing.”