Friday, September 17, 2010

A Torn Heart

It is a difficult position to be in to have a heart so torn. Is it possible to follow both desires to the fullest or is there too much competition between the two? Are they actually different or is the brain getting in the way of the heart? Let me explain a little.

Our journey started so long ago that I actually find it difficult to pinpoint a start or beginning. But we've been desperately following Jesus and looking for Him so we can continue following Him since we began down this less traveled road. Along the road we've encountered so many people that have helped us find Him again (or realize that we've lost sight of Him and we weren't even looking for Him). It's been very much a rocky road to be on. Never knowing for sure if we are really heading in the right direction.

At some crossroads we would see the choice to follow our desires or to follow Christ's desires. How I wish we could say we chose Christ more often, but I must report that it is much more often our own. Early in our journey we didn't necessarily see our desires as different. As we continued our travel and began adding children we met some extraordinary people that showed us so much light we are still learning from them. These divine encounters are really an awesome thing!

Sometimes these encounters bring up very scary negative feelings and as you explore those feelings, you might discover there to be a war raging in the darkness inside of you. As light shines in the darkness it hurts and the more light you let in the more healing occurs and the more you grow closer & deeper in Christ. The more you allow this process to occur the more your heart becomes pure, full of Christ and His desires. It is a very freeing and fun, albeit tough, position to be in because you become totally aware of your worldly desires and are convicted.

Like the desire to want a big fancy SUV, when a very reasonable, reliable, ugly van will do. It's SO hard to not want things of this world or to take for granted those things. But as you continue to seek Him you realize that those things don't matter. So you empower your friends or family to help make the tough decision so you are not swayed and swept up into your worldly desires. (well, at least, that's what I do). But I've digressed...

Other times, those divine encounters plant a seed that will not begin to sprout until years later or offer confirmation or tie together all those loose ends, helping to make a clear path. And occasionally something revealed to you in one of those instances cannot be removed from your mind. No matter how hard you try to move the opposite direction. It is at that point that it becomes confusing to me and we enter my current dilemma.

When we started this portion of our journey to be missionaries in Richardson, we assumed a large portion of our role would be at the elementary school our children should attend from Kindergarten through Sixth grade. We were (and to some extent are still) totally unsure of what it means to be a missionary in Richardson and what our role entails. We are certain of loving children and people that cross our paths. We have a few points of focus where we already have relationships with others and have regular contact.

First there is work, I work by both watching a beautiful baby girl & at Daniel's preschool. I have a job of loving those children. I cherish them by filling in the gaps; empowering them to discover, create, love and be. I have this general passion for children, so we figured that would carry over to the children at Alexander's school. And it is to an extent. But my vision is clouded, my passion is muted. (we'll come back to that in a minute)

Second there is the gym. This is my me time. I've been going to the same gym for 4 years now and I LOVE every minute of being there. I have been happy to spend time there everyday over the last 4 years and speak to no one. But recognizing my calling of being a missionary I've begun talking to people & taking a true interest in others that spend time there. I'm learning a lot from them and am getting support for my fitness and weight loss goals. I am inspired regularly by the people there and hope to one day be in a position to inspire others.

Third there are my friends. This is one of those things that is very much a Love/Hate relationship. Some of my best friends (those that I grew up with) are far away and so I've been forced to make new friends. They are wonderful people, but the more friends you have the more time you want to spend with them, doing things with them, enjoying their company, experimenting with new things or experiencing and learning about their passions. Either way for an introvert like me, it is very exhausting. I have lots of people I miss, want to talk to, have coffee with, give hugs to and just love, I have joy in doing all of those things, I just wish it gave me more energy like extroverts seem to experience after human interaction=)

So back to the muted passion for children. I am feeling very torn, because my brain says school is where I should be passionate because my son attends that school and there must be need of time, energy and love there for the children. But as I've tried to find a fit I've met resistance and am very confused about why. Not just resistance from the school (which is happening) but resistance on my part about where I should be putting in the time at the school . At the same time I continue to remember a morning I spent almost 2 years ago with a mother of 4 that was homeschooling her children and her reasons and love of the experience.

I've also found that my heart is saying, this isn't where my son belongs. He doesn't fit there and I don't believe it's what is best for him. So I struggle with trying to be involved and at the same time hating the school for holding my son hostage. I don't like the school system, I don't like that he's not challenged and encouraged to excel beyond his current abilities, I fear he'll lose his love of learning, I fear he won't continues to be happy with the small rewards the teacher offers for good behavior, I fear he'll learn to settle for mediocrity, I fear he'll not be given ample opportunities to explore his passions and find his calling, I fear his curiosity will subside and his creativity will diminish. All of these things have caught me off guard.

My concerns before school started were how is the teacher going to keep him from being distracting in school, what is he going to do while the other children learn the ABCs, are the other children going to be nice, will he have lots of parent teacher conferences. Those kinds of things, but I realize that those things don't matter. At least not to me. But that is apparently all that matter within the school system. As long as he conforms and isn't causing problems, it is considered a success, for both the student, teacher & school.

So I'm torn. Is my brain right, send him to public school like all the other children, continue trying to volunteer and just hope for the best? (After all our God is bigger than school!) Or is my heart right, keep him home & school him ourselves, taking help from the local homeschool network and allow for him to greatly excel, discover passions that wouldn't normally be offered to him and capitalize on the opportunities set before me to serve children with my children (both at this elementary school and others)? I think back to the "foot that did defeat" the 12 inches between the heart and the brain, I wish I could remember the complete meaning of that message in hopes it might offer some clarity.

What's a mommy to do?? What's a follower of Christ to do??


  1. FIRST: How did I not know that you had a blog? =(

    SECOND: I think that if you feel that Xander is not being challeneged at school, home school is a valid consideration. I feel though, that school is important to building children's social networking skills. In your case, I know that he is interacting with kids at church and other activities that you guys do, so he has opportunities there. But I find that some of the greatest lessons that Isaiah is learning about social skills have to do with the people that are nothing like us, and the children that think/behave/react differently than he does. They are teaching him tolerance and acceptance, and I find that highly important. That would be my only concern. Otherwise I think you would make an outstanding teacher for your children and that would be an amazing way for you to be even more a part of their lives. You can do your missionary work in other ways....there are other avenues out there to be explored. Raise your children to be intelligent and strive for excellence so they can inspire the world to do the same.

    /love /hugs /kiss

  2. I definitely think that we can't say whether the school is doing right by your son until you've given them more time. The first weeks of Kindergarten are not representative of what the school really has to offer, including programs for the gifted, etc. The teacher needs time to get to know the students and their needs.

    That said, I don't know if you need to know whether school would work for your kids. When I read this, it sounds to me like you are looking at your place in this world, your function, and saying that you want more meaning than going to the gym and building relationships around town will provide. You want to invest yourself in your children and your faith in a profound way. If you feel called to homeschool, it's ok to pull your son out of a perfectly good school to do it. There are amazing Christian curricula out there, and amazing mothers who do that every day.

    I'm not called to homeschool, but I reserve it as an option if our public schools fail my children. So far, once they got going (that is, not in the first months of Kindergarten) my girls have truly benefitted from excellent education and teachers who deeply care about serving them the best way they can. But if you are called to do it, then do it!!! You can always send him back to public school later, if that's where the Spirit leads you!

    One other idea -- perhaps you could look for other ways to spend your time while waiting to see how school works out. Any morning Bible Studies in your area? Any good hard volunteer work you could do? Maybe it's time to get your hands dirty. Volunteering at the school generally means supporting the PTA, not working with the kids. The PTA is nice, but it's not going to fill you up! Try to volunteer directly in the classroom, or look elsewhere. I have found that teaching Sunday School gives me a great opportunity to reach out and to talk about my faith. Teaching my own children our faith, however, is the most fulfilling job I've ever had.