I don’t even know where it comes from, but I feel way too much pressure when it comes to being a parent—especially at the beginning of the school year. I mean, I am raising tiny humans, but come on. I’m not even talking about the obvious cultural pressures of “needing” tons of extra money to buy the most up-to-date gadgets that all the kids have or to pay for all of the activities—although those pressures are very real. I’m talking about the subtle, simple need for each child to be his or her “best.” That is such a tricky statement, because what truly does “best” mean? If there is a best, then certainly there is a not-best; certainly there is a worse. And no one wants that.
I feel like I’ve been programmed to generalize childhood milestones with a checklist of pass/fails, ending up missing the truth of who my children are—more specifically, who they have been created to be. The wonder that is already inside of them simply needs to be acknowledged and cultivated; not compared and rated. There are obvious times when children will need to compete, be tested, and measure up. But in our day-to-day experience with them, I must never see it as a game of winning and losing, of measuring up. I need to see the unique people God has given to me, growing up right in front of my eyes, and to partner with Him to see each of their callings come to life.
This particularly hits home to me, as we are a homeschool family. Certainly I want the best for my children. Certainly I want them to excel, like Daniel. Isn’t that what I should want, for my children to be “without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and (even) qualified to serve (at a)… king’s palace” (Daniel 1:3-4)? To be—the best? I mean that would be awesome. And, there are kids who actually are this, speaking foreign languages in kindergarten, taking college math in middle school, being selected into elite dance programs at young ages. And this truly is awesome. But—here’s the deal. Not every homeschooler fits into this category. The truth is, not every traditional schooler fits into this category either. But there seems to be, at least in my experience, a need to prove my worthiness as a homeschool mom based on these far-reaching goals. My vision of what I had expected our homeschool to look like at this point on our journey is vastly different than my actual experience because some of my children struggle in ways that I could have never predicted. I have come to realize that they are not all Daniels.
But what is freeing is this: you can’t raise a Daniel if you’ve been given a Peter—and why would you want to? I don’t know what Peter was like as a child or even a young man for that matter. Scripture paints a picture of him when he’s all grown up. Maybe he was a hyperactive child. Maybe he squirmed around a lot. Maybe his father had to scold him during synagogue to be quiet. Maybe he was impulsive as a teenager. Maybe he hung with the rough crowd. We do know that he was a fisherman by trade, and while very useful, it wasn’t the most refined of careers. We also know that he was a bit all over the place. (Remember when Peter said he would always, 100% stay true to his friendship with Jesus, but then within hours of saying this he denied knowing Him to 3 different people?) We know he was a little rough around the edges. But we also know that he always gave it his all. Most people remember Peter sinking when attempting to walk on the water—but what I am stuck on is the fact that he witnessed the miracle-working-Jesus literally walking on water during a storm and he was the only one to ask if he could do the very same thing, while all of his friends just sat back scared. That’s not perfection. That’s guts—that’s heart. Perhaps his heart is what Jesus saw when He called Peter to be the foundation of the early church. Maybe Jesus knew he needed strong arms that could handle a mess. He didn’t need perfection. He needed Peter. We also know the religious leaders saw Peter as “unschooled (and) ordinary.” At the same time, “they were astonished and they took note that (he) had been with Jesus” after he healed a lame man, causing him to instantly walk (Acts 3:8; 4:13). Peter wasn’t supposed to have all of his i’s dotted and t’s crossed. He was ordinary. But he had been with Jesus and everyone could tell.
Both Daniel and Peter were able to know who they were individually created to be, in very different ways, centuries apart. They were able to recognize their God-given talents, and walk the individual paths carved out for them. Daniel’s diligence in education placed him in an area of great influence; yet his fervent prayers to God kept him safe from hungry lions when his smarts were no help. Peter was a fisherman by trade—yet a fisherman who was needed and called by God to work miracles and build His church. Both of these men knew who they were, and knew the great and mighty One they served.
It really is not about being the best. It’s about being known. And when we know who we have been created to be, instead of trying to be who were are not, we can be free to be who we are. With my children, I am discovering that the most important thing to discover is–them. If you have a Daniel, great. But if you have a Peter—remember, that is great too.
I was out shopping for myself, which is a rare event. I found myself struggling to buy a much needed quality pair of sneakers, and dress shoes. I was going back and forth on how much to spend. Typically I go to Walmart and buy a $12 pair and call it a day. However they weren’t giving me the support I needed from being on my feet most of the day. I asked a friend, “why am I struggling to buy these for myself?” Her reply “ because you don’t value yourself”….I didn’t even text back. I bought 2 pairs of shoes, and a couple other things, then I took myself out to breakfast.
And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth… Matthew 25:25
I always felt for the servant who hid the talent in the ground. I related to his fear of losing it all, of disappointing others. He valued his fear more than the gift, and what could be gained from that. If you’ve had enough lack in your life it can impact your ability to value yourself appropriately. The times when I’ve worked too hard to please those who may see me, yet don’t understand me. He had to find a safe place to bury the talent, had to dig a deep enough hole, and then stand guard for a year,,, that’s a lot of work for something that doesn’t belong to you.
But when His disciples saw it, they had indignation,saying, to what purpose is this waste. Matthew 26:8
They saw the woman for who she was, a sinner, and opined that her actions could only be considered a waste. Maybe her actions were too grand, too generous for them to be interpreted correctly by equally sinful people.. Perhaps her recognition of who Jesus is, and the comprehension of what he was about to endure, could only leave them muttering feeble excuses about the poor in response to their own lack of worship.
And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. John 1:5
Pure goodness, and the deeds that follow can easily be misinterpreted if the light hasn’t shone in our own dark places. I’m quite certain that the woman was well aware of her past, her actions, and how people viewed her. What surpassed all of that was her absolute confidence in who Jesus is, and that what He thought of her wasn’t an opinion.The challenge is to take what you have that is whole and valued and break it wide open for God’s glory. What you hold dear must be let loose, what you consider the best thing about yourself should be given to God. Stretch out in God so the light can get to those areas that we’ve buried and guarded for far too long.