Being somewhat mad with power, as all honest homeschooling mothers will admit to being, we chose to push off our return to the glorious halls of learning (otherwise known as the dining table) until this morning. I spent last week writing at bat-out-of-hell speed, completing an entire study of 1 Peter in 4 days (incidentally, there are only 2 types of people who voluntarily take on the writing of a Bible study on 1 Peter: theologians and lunatics. And, well, I am not a theologian…), feeding my family really mediocre meals that could be conjured up in a microwave and generally flopping into a wimpy little heap at the end of the day. School did not fit gracefully into this picture. Drinking might have…
(Side note: why is it that I seem to have an internal moral compass that tells me putting homemade 18 proof eggnog or Irish cream in your morning coffee is completely acceptable during December, but as soon as we flip the page to January, that same course of action could only indicate a tendency towards flaming alcoholism? It makes no sense to me, and if we were being practical, can you honestly think of a better reason to spike your morning coffee than homeschooling 4 fantastic Quail when you never felt like a scathingly brilliant student yourself? And yet, annoying moral compass hefted about more weight than logic this morning and my coffee is black, like the moods of my Quail. I wonder what that compass would say about my slipping something into their drinks… just kidding. Obviously. Not looking to go to jail. I look terrible in orange.)
Behold the power in setting your own schedule. Really quite thankful for that. So this morning, we are trying to jump back in with both feet, as I have never been an intelligent enough person (see above) to ease into anything. You can have all the structures in place that you want to, but the work of getting hearts and attitudes to sing joyful is… well… work. And as fun as it would be to sit and point at my prickly little Quail (I had to explain the phrase “burr under your saddle” awfully early this morning) and expound on why they should shape up and lay off their newfound life verse of, “and the heavens fought against Sisera”, the fact is, I have enough happening in my own heart to keep me busy at least through the end of this post. Heck, for all I know, they are doing a 1:1 imitation of their mother.
It hit me while I was rolling these weird no-bake chocolate chip granola ball things (because my oven is still dead and this saddens me) that your motivation matters. It is all well and good to be a wannabe superstar of the home, a master of your homeschooling, commander of attitudes and bringer of joy to all the little people. G’head. But when Monday comes at you like a cinder block swinging at the end of a wrecking ball chain, your doe-eyed hopefulness about your own awesome self-sustaining cheerfulness will fall flat. Like, literally. You on your fanny in the dirt kind of flat. Wind knocked out of your lungs, staring up at a crack in the ceiling you never noticed before kind of flat. The sort of flat that catches you hoping no one was watching, and all the while knowing Someone was.
I was recently told I am a cynic. I disagree. I am also not a “realist”, which is usually the witty comeback of disgruntled cynics who disliked getting caught at it. I simply have a providentially keen awareness of my own neediness. Falling flat on your face a lot will do that to you and God in His kindness never allows me to have too many days in a row that I don’t trip over His feet.
So this is not a new epiphany. This is a recurring reminder in my life. The twist this morning had more to do with one of the weak-sauce motivations that has crept unawares into my thinking. I tend to think of fear of man as a sort of terror that you would associate with tyrants and beheadings, or threat against your business from the state for refusing to bake a cake for a homosexual wedding, things of that ilk. But fear of man could also mean you scurrying about to please human beings that you love and care about. It could mean putting more stock in their smile than you do in the smile of God. It could mean being afraid to obey God, hesitant to love fervently, lest it open you up to criticism or pain. It could mean that I am the man I fear — my own pain and hurt feelings, my own humiliation, my own weakness.
Self-protection is a bad master. The Lord, the Savior, the Creator, the King, is a gracious Master.
When it comes down to it, the only way to love freely is in response to His love. If I am frantically trying to guard myself, I am fearing the wrong master. Only His grace is sufficient to pull my eyes from myself, from my fears, from my weaknesses, and only His beautiful face can so shower me with love that I am able to turn around and reflect that love outward, horizontally, on every prickle in my house today.