Giving Up and Giving In for Lent
Giving up my best intentions. Giving up my less than best efforts. Giving up legalism. Giving up perfectionism. Giving up my pride. Giving up myself.
...So what am I actually giving up?
My plan to read the Bible chronologically in one year, while also reading it liturgically. After plowing through Genesis and Job - man, was that ground rocky - I completely fell off the wagon around the beginning of this month. I never really did consistently do my readings for Epiphany either, but at least I could pick up with Lent, whereas with the one year plan, I couldn't (or wouldn't) skip Exodus and Deuteronomy to get where I was supposed to be with my reading. That left me no choice but to quit and try again next year...or so my perfectionistic all or nothing mentality almost convinced me...until it dawned on me that I could continue reading where I left off if I would surrender the idea of reading the whole Bible in a year. And if I removed the time constraint, I could even have a chance to study those difficult Old Testament passages that were part of the reason my motivation had waned. Moreover, it would leave space to weave in my church year readings instead of feeling like I had to choose between them. Giving up rigidity was gloriously liberating. I wasn't giving up - I was giving in. Giving in to the God whose plans always turn out better than mine.
Catching up on the Past. I haven't printed photos from the last 6 years. With each upload, my burden to get them sorted and printed grows heavier and more seemingly untenable. So I asked myself what is at the root of this? Guilt and fear. I feel bad that my children (ages 9,7,5) aren't able to see pictures of themselves when they were younger. I fear their memories will fade of special times because they haven't been visually reminded. I even fear my life being cutting short and not having properly documented everything. I finally asked myself, "Is it impossible for them to see these pictures if they aren't in book form?" Not at all. For some reason, I hadn't thought it could work for them to browse through iPhoto, even though they often would do that over my shoulder when it was on my screen. I guess I didn't think it was good enough. I had this picture in my mind of our family gathered around the couch, flipping through pages together, reminiscing. Anything less than that seemed like failure. Now I'm giving up that ideal, as well as the fear its rooted in and the guilt it grows...and giving in to grace. I'm trying to apply that to my other unfinished projects, especially organizational ones - the kids' artwork accumulated over the past five years , a decade (our whole marriage) of filing, and so on. I'm not giving up on dealing with it but I am giving up listening to the ticking clock, surrendering my fears of an unfinished life and guilt over failing to preserve our family's legacy in the "proper" way.
Homeschooling by the Book. Although I love The Well Trained Mind, it sets the bar quite high for providing a classical education. But it's home to me - it's where I started and where I feel safest (there's that fear again) and what feels right. At the same time, its rigorousness is beyond my capacity, so I feel inadequate since I never quite can implement all the reading and projects and subjects, which even the authors tell you not to attempt, but my perfectionism plugs its ears and creates a compulsion to complete every curriculum by the end of the school year. All of this pressure has caused me to overemphasize structure and to quicken our pace. This, of course, drains the joy out of learning, and doesn't give us the time to linger longer over what's most interesting or takes more time to master (for lack of a better word). So I'm loosening up and slowing down and stepping back to look at the big picture. Academics are only one of our reasons for homeschooling, so that shouldn't be steering our course. Once again I'm giving up...giving up the wheel and letting God take the driver's seat, even if that means leaving classical country for new educational lands, or commuting back and forth between them, rather than insisting we stay parked in one spot.
Obviously this isn't just for Lent, but it does seem the perfect (haha) season to start the process of giving up and giving into God's grace, beginning with these tangible areas of my life.
2/24/2012 02:02:11 am
That's exactly it. And yet homeschooling is supposed to free of us that mentality!
2/24/2012 03:30:16 am
Fantastic. I so relate to you in my own ways, and I love how you articulated this. I think I will give up some things as well. Thanks for the inspiration.
Mary Loebig Giles
2/24/2012 04:23:43 am
So agree! Love your fearlessly stating what many of us secretly struggle with! God wants to give me life but I'm often tempted to cling to things that offer a poor substitute. Thanks for being brave and honest!
I can totally relate to the Bible reading (this January I decided to start in Genesis and read at my own pace), along with neverending photo task and filing. What is it about photos that can get to moms? Even though I know I'm busy with so many other important things, I always can sense some sort of guilt because I can't get my photos printed or labeled or organized. The same goes for all of my papers to be filed. I'm beginning to wonder if I just need to give myself a lot of grace and forget about both things.
4/7/2013 04:48:55 pm
I just recently started reading your blog and saw this post. I relate very much to the comment about homeschooling with TWTM. It makes me feel more secure to have a guide like that, but I always feel like I'm not even close to reaching the bar. We're working with a charter school that gives us all the freedom I want, for the most part, so I have no major pressure from them, except that I know someone is watching and I need to stay "on track," whatever that is. It's our first year homeschooling, and it's only kindergarten, but I feel the pressure still. Since I'm actually a teacher, too, I feel some kind of push to make sure my son is achieving all he should. I want to get to a more peaceful and somewhat organized state, but I'm not there yet. Alas.
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