It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. – C.S. Lewis
My Dear Daughter,
I want to begin this series of notes with one of the most important question you will ever be asked: What do you want?
I remember a short story I once edited as an English teacher. The story, written by a young female student, was all about a freshman girl who wanted more than anything to be invited to a party by a cute senior boy. I was so sure a redeeming moral would shine through on the last page, when the character would realize that there is more to life than high school parties and cute boys.
But nope. That part never came. The story ended with the cute boy finally noticing the main character and asking her to the big party. She went and had a wonderful time. The end.
I wrote a little comment at the bottom of the page: As a reader, I don’t care about your character because she’s driven by such a superficial desire. She wants too little.
See, a character is what he or she wants. To a large degree a person’s motivation = their identity. What you desire deep down fundamentally drives the decisions you make, the ideas you value, and the things you pursue. What you desire is what you become.
You are what you want. So what’s underneath the things you do and say? What’s your motivation?
I so look forward to having this conversation with you someday when you’re old enough to wrestle with your own heart. I will give you a piece of paper and a pencil, and time to think. And when you’ve written down just what it is that you really want, I’ll ask you one more question:
Is it enough?
Hopefully I’ll be able to explain this one sufficiently.
On the surface it seemed common enough, a mother invited her 4 or 5-year-old daughter to sit with her on the piano bench as she played for the evening service at a local church. At one point the child’s little fingers arched over the keys to join her mom in playing the song, “Oh How I Love Jesus.”
Oh, how I love Jesus,
Oh, how I love Jesus,
Oh, how I love Jesus,
Because he first loved me!
The notes sang from the piano with a practiced pride. To everyone else this was a cute little performance, but the little girl’s expression made it clear that it was so much more for her—she got to play the piano with mommy in front of everyone.
Why is this “homeschool moment” such a big deal? Honestly, I’m not completely sure, but watching it happen I know that it was. Maybe it has something to do with the hours of practice that went into the twelve or so simple notes of the song. Or maybe it was the modest act of a mom allowing her daughter to join in making music. Or maybe it was the living picture of the song’s few words brought to life by a little set of hands next to a bigger set of hands playing, “Oh, how I love Jesus” over and over. Whatever the case, as the mom deliberately slowed her pace so her daughter could take the lead, “Oh how I love Jesus, because he first loved me,” I knew I was witnessing one of the most beautiful pictures of Christian education I’ve seen in a long time.
In preparation for parenthood I’ve been trying to “tune in” to the homeschooling happening around me. I don’t mean “homeschooling” as we often think of the word, rather, the underneath lessons parents are teaching their children everyday through their words, habits, actions, attitudes, etc. Research continually points to inescapable fact that parents are the biggest shapers of their child’s identity—in short, they’re the most important teachers. So if this easily missed homeschool curriculum is unfolding in every car ride, conflict and conversation, what exactly is being taught? I will be retelling the stories of the very best homeschooling examples as I see them…
As I drove to school one morning I saw that someone had rearranged the letters on the church sign right across from the Holland Christian parking lot. Some neighborhood kids must have thought it would be funny to write something inappropriate and unashamedly offensive. Two cars in front of me, a sliver minivan slowed before pulling into the church parking lot. I watched as a woman and her middle school son got out of the vehicle, walked over to the sign, and together changed the words back to the original message.
Talk about a powerful homeschool lesson. Maybe this mom was intentionally teaching her son in this moment, but more likely she was just doing a small act that needed to be done and invited her son to join along. Either way, what I was seeing went far beyond changing the words on a church sign. This mom was showing her son that when you see something wrong, something that hurts others, you don’t just drive by. We don’t merely shake our heads and talk about how wrong or upsetting something is, but we get out of the car. What an attitude to have towards injustices both locally and globally, worldwide and close to home. Though probably unaware of the significance, this young man was receiving an incredible education before the school day even started.
Stay tuned for more homeschool lessons coming soon!