“For I know the plans I have for you,
plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future”
I did something scary this weekend. I went to a conference about Home Educating. Doesn’t sound that scary, right?! Well, for me it was! I have harboured a dream for a long time that I could teach my children at home, it all just seemed so impossible but I dared to hope. At first it seemed like an insane idea, but I couldn’t shake this deep desire in me, so I didn’t dismiss it. I researched and read and talked to other people doing it. I found that lots of people with illness or disability find it not only possible, but life-enhancing for the whole family. I was excited. My husband was a little taken aback, but he listened and thought and was open to the idea. I started to mention it to friends, to my mom, and just hear myself say it out loud. Suddenly this little desire in me started to feel a bit real! We saw this conference coming up and it was near our home so we found someone to look after the girls and bought tickets.
This was all a little while ago and I kind of put it to the back of my mind until suddenly it was here and we were on our way. I found myself desperately hoping for some kind of confirmation that this would be the right path for us, but also both scared and hopeful in (almost) equal measure, that it would just put a nail in the coffin of the whole idea once and for all. The pros and cons and hopes and fears of what the future may hold have been whirling around in my head for so long that I really wanted some definitive answer once and for all. The trouble is there is no answer to find, this is a decision, a choice. What freedom, right?! What pressure!!!!
So off I went, both hoping and afraid to be enthused and deterred all at once, as well as hoping that my husband would come away with some clear idea of how he felt – and that we both might feel the same! I said a sincere, but fairly perfunctory prayer along the lines of ‘ah God … show us what to do … please let this be helpful’ Admitted to Him that I was scared either way and asked him to stick with us whatever we decide because otherwise we didn’t stand a chance.
The day was lovely. Two people I’d met before were there and seemed pleased to see us (they didn’t seem to have written me off following my health induced disappearing act since we last met, which is always nice!) and right from the off everyone was so down to earth and encouraging that this was possible and could be wonderful. And the encouragements kept on coming. Every fear, large and small, that had been niggling away at me was assuaged or acknowledged in some part during the day. My husband and I came away enthused and inspired and it felt like the decision was made.
I spent the following day in bed, which was to be expected. It was a very long and demanding day for me, we knew it would have consequences but made the decision that it was important enough and we’d weather it. I still think that was the right decision, but it’s much easier to be accepting of theoretical consequences than to live through real ones. It’s left me questioning again whether I can do this, whether I am being naive in thinking this would be remotely possible with my limitations. So it’s felt like a bit of a rollercoaster really, and we’re still riding it and we still have the decision to make. But I’m hopeful. Increasingly it is something we both want for our children – for our family – and we are beginning to see that the scary freedom that there is to make choices in how you home educate, is where the strength of it as a option may lie for us. We can try things and find a way that works for us – maybe several ways that we can swap and change depending on how my health is – so that my limitations start to look like strengths for us rather than weaknesses.
I still don’t know what we’ll do. I don’t know how we would handle negativity from people that disagree with us. I don’t know what home educating would look like for us on a day to day basis, or whether ultimately my kids would thank me for it or not. I don’t know whether my girls would thrive or struggle in the school system, or whether I would be able to meet the demands of getting them to and from school each day and keep up with all that school life entails. But I do know that I need to hope that whatever it is will be good and life-giving, and that in the ups and downs that lie ahead of us, God knows what we need and will meet us in it.
Hope is hard. It still feels like a huge risk and I’m still working out what exactly I’m hoping for, but I know who I’m hoping in and that matters more. God knows that hoping in him doesn’t come easily for me, it feels scary and risky and most of the time I don’t even know what it looks or feels like. I’m only going to learn by trying though, so here I go.