As a mother of four young children who homeschools, I am often asked, "How do you do it?" Or, someone may say, "I couldn't do it - it's just not in me." Meaning they couldn't homeschool or they couldn't have more than two children. I am always at a loss for how to answer. There is the self-righteousness that springs up and wants to be superwoman in the eyes of others. There is the self-sufficiency that wants to take the credit for whatever it is in me that can do it. There is the pride, this is so awful to admit, that wants to claim that God has been more gracious to me than others. But really, I have been pondering how it is that I do it, a lot lately and I believe there are several key factors that I will explain over a series of posts.
The first is that I have received an abundant amount of grace from God. More than others? No. I believe that the grace I have received is available for anyone. In fact, I have just come through a season of becoming more aware of my dependence upon His grace and the abundance of His grace. My self-sufficiency and self-righteousness was stripped away last fall when my fourth child was welcomed home and I had begun homeschooling my second child.
I was homeschooling two children, caring for a newborn and beginning an intense season of training a toddler who no longer napped in the morning and was getting into everything. Everything. And distracting the other two. The baby was colicky and slept for no more than three hours in a row at night until she was 6 months old. My household was full of messes and unpredictability; both things I hate.
How I did I do it? I didn't. I was angry, tired, frustrated, mean, impatient, harsh, selfish. I despaired of my children's future living with me. Seriously. There were days where I didn't find time for a shower. There were days where I wasn't dressed until 3 in the afternoon. It wasn't like that with any of the other children - I was always able to shower and dress before breakfast with the other three.
Yet God was abundantly gracious to me during this time! In His kindness, he let me come undone. He let me see the extent of my dependence on Him. Sleep? Is all His grace. How do I know? He withheld it from me for a season. Food? All His grace. He let me see how dependent I am on it; I get very grouchy when I don't eat and He gave me four children who all needed to be fed first while my stomach rumbled. Coffee? His grace. I know because of the headaches I had at noon when I hadn't had the first of three daily cups. I grew in my awareness of all his graces to me and I grew in my awareness that I don't deserve it.
My sin sprayed out of me with a stench much like manure being spread over large crops. Except my sin had no value as fertilizer. That was the point. There was nothing of value I could offer to the Lord. He let me see that. My good work of homeschooling? A filthy rag - there was sin all over it. My good work of staying home with my children? Covered with sin. My good work of having the children in the first place? Stained with sin. Sources of pride were stripped away as I saw the extent of my sin in all that I did.
And yet, I have a dear friend who would say to me on the few occasions I saw her, "The Lord is pleased with you." I didn't believe her. I would think to myself, "He can't be pleased - He sees how my days truly play out and there is nothing to take pleasure in." But she was right. The Lord was pleased with me. He still is. He is pleased with me because of the Gospel.
I simply have to gaze at the cross and see that my sin and shame was borne by Christ. The just judgment and wrath of God was poured out upon Him. The problem of my sin has been taken care of. The pleasure He takes in me is because Christ's righteousness has been credited to me. The righteous life He lived, has been transferred to me just as if I had lived a perfect, righteous life myself.
Aware of my abundant sins, I could throw myself before the throne of God without fear of His judgment but as a dearly loved child before her Father. I could declare my helplessness and seek His help knowing that my sins have been removed from me as far as the east is from the west and with confidence that He hears my prayers.
How do I do it? First, I preach the Gospel to myself when my heart condemns me and then I rest in the grace shown me upon the cross and run to my Father for help.