I was talking with some homeschool mama friends the other day about starting homeschool. This year is the year of “considering homeschool” it seems. I mentioned the difficulty with forming a homeschool routine – with finding the routine that works for us.
For us, it took TWO and a HALF years to find our “Homeschool Normal.” I always considered this was too much. I discouraged myself by thinking I must have over-complicated it. And I assuaged myself with the remembrance that we had tiny people to look after when we started…and I got pregnant in the middle of our first year.
It turns out: almost all the moms said it took them at least a couple of years to settle into their homeschools – to figure out routines and feel comfortable.
I say that to say this: if this is your first year homeschooling and you are floundering, if the dishes in the sink from three days ago are almost as stinky as your 2nd grader’s attitude, if you “forgot” to do math last month, if you looked on your favorite homeschool blog’s Instagram and discovered you aren’t measuring up, you are NOT ALONE!
We are all in some state of frustration, floundering around in the vast homeschool ocean, searching for some sort of anchor, or boat, or life raft…something!
Here’s a bit of hope for you today:
You will get there. It takes time.
hmmm…can I come up with any other trite sayings for you?
Here’s what I know. And here’s a truth I heard when I was a mom of one with one on the way that still resonates with me: “YOUR HARD IS HARD.”
Yes, this is relatively close to the saying which I CANNOT stand hearing: “It is what it is.” Ugh. And for that I am sorry. But I can’t change the fact that hard is Hard. It is the very definition of the word.
But aren’t there times when you look around at the piles of laundry, the two (or three) tear-filled toddlers, the stack of books you were supposed to read in order to “have the best homeschool ever,” the stampede of feet to the front door because “There’s a package!!” – the mess of your day – and wonder, “Is this as Hard as I am making it?”
Yes, dear friend, it is.
Your hard IS hard.
But here’s the wisdom underneath that – it is supposed to be. And when it turns, one day – as it will – from Hard to Easy, you will get a new Hard.
How is this in any way supposed to encourage you? Well, here’s some things:
- God is working in you, as you work through the Hard. It is a beautiful thing called sanctification. And it doesn’t happen unless there is a little bit (or a lot a bit) of pressure applied (1 Thes. 4:3-5; 1 John 3;9; 1 Pet. 1:2; Phil. 1:6, 1 Cor. 4:17).
- He – the Author of the Universe – is not puzzled by your Hard things, but He has sympathy for your weakness (2 Cor. 12:9, 13:4). He is mindful that we are but dust (Ps. 103:14).
- The Hard drives us to Him – our Comfort in distress. Let’s face it, sometimes we have to work all through all our “own” resources” before we fall on our knees before Him and beg for mercy, and wisdom, and solutions, and___, and___ (the book of Job gives us a long lesson in that). We must realize that we are not sufficient apart from Him. We need Hard for that.
There are more things I could say in praise of Hard, but I will move onto the next logical question.
How do I turn hard into easy?
Although we could pause here and pose the question, “Why even try when Hard IS Hard and I am only going to get a new Hard when the current hard becomes easy?” But that is a defeatist question and I am not ready to answer that…just yet (continue reading).
Our Creator gave us little sensors in our lives that sense problems. Often, we can see them clear as day. No one has to endure the tantrum of a 2-year-old who just wants a lollipop before dinner and then be told, “this is a problem.” We sense it immediately: Child. Has. Problem.
But what we may not realize (or remember) about ourselves in the midst of Hard, is: God also equipped us with a shadow of His problem-solving skills. He gave us minds to work through possible solutions to problems along the way. Our innovations, our problem-solving skills, even our desire for things to be easy again come from Him.
What did God do when He had the biggest problem in the world?
His creation – fallen
His people – mired in sin
His world – getting worse by the day.
He offered the Solution to the problem. He desired that we would be in fellowship with Him again – that we could get back to “very good” (Gen 1:31). And He walked mankind through Hard (the flood) after Hard (slavery) after Hard (disobedience) after Hard (captivity) – all the time offering the Solution to anyone who would simply believe in the promise that one day Hard would become Easy.
And one day it did. God sent His Solution to the problem of all mankind. And He conquered the Hard. He conquered it all – sin, death, disobedience, slavery. He rescued us from the worst Hard we have ever known, so we can work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).
Did you catch that? God took care of the BIGGEST Hard, knocked it right off the pedestal…and….gave us a new Hard. The new Hard is our working out our salvation – that sanctification thing I was talking about earlier. We have a healthy amount of time on our hands until He takes us home. And He is going to use that time to make us ready. He makes us ready through Hard.
Hard is hard, but the biggest Hard thing has been taken out. All the other hard things He gives us are to sanctify us, to purify us and make us more like Him.
Turning Hard to Easy
With God as our Example (our Teacher, our Master), we can begin to turn Hard into Easy through our God-given problem solving skills. Here’s a quick list:
- Constant Prayer – taking all the Hard and laying it at the Feet of the Conqueror of Hard Things
- Diligent Bible study – listening to the Word of the Creator of Hard Things
- Memorizing the Scripture – hiding the solutions to Hard found in His Word in our hearts
- Fellowship with other believers going through Hard – seeking to uplift one another through Love and encouraging others not to give up in the midst of the Hard – not commiseration
These practices will keep us connected to the True Problem Solver, the Conqueror of Hard. Jesus compares our connection to God to the connection between vines and branches (John 15:1-11). And He reminds His disciples (us) in the midst of that message, “apart from Me you can do nothing.” Not only will our Hard be Hard, but we will fail in our Hard when we don’t do these things.
Why Do Hard Things?
Let’s get back to that unanswered question from earlier. Why do Hard things? Why even attempt to problem solve our way through Hard? We are just going to get another Hard once the current Hard is out of the way.
I hope you are starting to recognize the defeatist nature of that line of questioning. Again, I have to point to the Problem Solver, the Solution – Jesus, the One who DID the Hard Thing.
Paul says it so clearly in Philippians 2, that I will just let him take over:
If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE SHOULD BOW, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing; that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may have cause to glory because I did not run in vain or toil in vain.Phil. 2:1-16, emphasis mine
Of the myriad things that I could say about this majestic passage of Scripture, I will choose this one:
- The struggle through the Hard things of life – how we do it and Who we cling to in the midst of it – is proof we are the Children of the Living God! It is He who is at work in us for His good pleasure. He isn’t working in just anybody. He is working in His Children!
We walk through the Hard, problem-solving along the way, conquering Hard, and receiving new Hard things over and over and over again becausae: it proves we are HIS! And more than that, it proves He is at work in us.
Now, I am not prideful enough in my problem-solving skills to say to God: “Bring on the Hard!” But I am humbled enough to know that each Hard He gives me is Hard. It is hard for a reason – my sanctification. Thus, I can praise God for Hard even in the midst of Hard (James 1:2-18).
That metaphor earlier about the Vine and the branches extends a little further here. Our connection to that Vine (proven by Hard, assuaged by the set of problem-solving skills He has given us) produces Fruit. There is a harvest at the end of Hard! The fruit of the Spirit is produced as a result of my connection to and maintenance in the True Vine. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control – this is the quality of our fruit. It is a loving and lovely Fruit. It is a joyful and joy-bringing Fruit. It is a peaceful and peacemaking Fruit. It is a patient and persistent Fruit. It is a kind and considerate Fruit. It is a good and good-loving Fruit. It is a faithful and steadfast Fruit. It is a gentle and humble Fruit. It is a self-controlled and considerate Fruit.
The beauty of the Fruit, the expectation of the joy of the harvest is why we push through Hard things. We push through Hard with our God-given set of problem-solving skills. And we pursue Hard because we have the One who conquered Hard at our side. Doesn’t our perspective of Hard change a bit when we consider all this? Can’t we murmur, “Amen,” when we hear: “Consider it all joy…when you encounter various trials?”