Thursday, August 14, 2014

Testimony Meeting-Homeschool Analogy

     Only LDS readers will understand this analogy.  But I felt inspired to write about it since so many homeschoolers I connect with are LDS.  And so many of those homeschoolers have the same questions of whether their reasons to homeschool are enough to carry them through it.

     For me the decision to homeschool was exactly like bearing your testimony at the pulpit.

     1) You sit down in the pews with everyone else, not thinking about going up to the pulpit.  You think you will sit calmly and listen to others' testimonies and find one or two things you can relate to.
   ... I think it's pretty rare to start out life knowing you will homeschool your children.  Most of us start out hearing about others homeschooling and find it sounds interesting.

     2) You start to feel something telling you to bear your testimony.  You don't know exactly where the feeling came from or what prompted it. You start to feel like maybe you should go up.  At the first acknowledgement of that feeling, you panic!
   ... I can say for certain, when I first seriously started contemplating homeschool, I was a wreck.  It abolished my view of typical (common) life. The idea of sending my precious kids off to school with adorable little backpacks to meet their teacher and make friends...why in the world would I walk away from that perfectly good plan?
 ... Hey, it was a perfectly good plan to just sit and listen to other people bear testimonies. ;)

     3) The feeling is a very personal thing.  You think no one else can possibly understand the struggle you go through when feeling it. But somehow, others are feeling it too in their own way.  Others are prompted to get up and bear their testimony for completely different reasons than yourself.  You battle with yourself.  Self doubt: "Why would anyone care to hear my testimony?" Self criticism: "My testimony isn't as interesting as theirs is." Justification: "I'm just not the type of person to do that." Procrastination: "I really don't want to get up. Maybe next time."
... When thinking about homeschooling, it is so easy to find reasons to not move forward or to say it won't work.  Everyone has differing circumstances.

     4) The prompting to stand up grows and grows and becomes this burning desire inside you, causing your heart to race.  The feeling becomes undeniable and you soon find yourself walking up that aisle, with your nerves going crazy.  You're thinking "What in the world am I going to do or say once I get up there?"
... I am still experiencing this phase of homeschooling.  The more I research homeschool plans, the more my desire grows and the more it becomes an undeniable aspiration.  But in the grand scheme, I really have no idea what I will do.  I just have lots of great ideas and I have faith that things will work out for the best as long as I follow my instincts/the spirit.  And trust me, even with great ideas and resources at my finger tips, the concept of homeschooling always makes me nervous.

     5) Once you find yourself at the pulpit staring out into the faces of the congregation, you think "What have I done?! Can I just go back and sit down?"
... Starting to homeschool is probably one of the most terrifying things for a parent.  The "What have I done?" feeling is bound to be experienced once in a while or many times in a while. Haha. 

     6) You find yourself grateful for the common greetings that were repeated by peers: "Hello brothers and sisters. For those of you who don't know me..." and such.  The laid out, socially acceptable beginning is a comfort and helps you break the silence and get yourself started.
... Even though you know your child may learn differently than others, it is so comforting to hear from other homeschoolers and take suggestions and find laid out curriculums that give you ideas and get the ball rolling. Why re-invent the wheel, right? ;)

     7) You are there, in the moment. Bearing your testimony.  Spewing out thoughts, feelings, and experiences.  Sometimes you have fun. You may get a smile or a laugh. And you might even say something that inspires someone in the congregation (the ultimate reward).  Sometimes it feels awkward and uncomfortable.  Maybe no one is listening and babies are screaming.  Or maybe people are falling asleep and you don't think anyone cares.  The experience varies.
... As homeschoolers, we know that not every day is a success. Not every day feels like a victory.  Sometimes it is an unplanned disaster and nothing gets accomplished. But there are some days that work out well and you feel you have shared something valuable and memorable with your child. Those days are priceless.

     8) IT'S OVER! Yay! You have completed your testimony and you are walking back to your seat with relief that you survived it. But do you remember what you said? You may be thinking "That sounded like a horrible jumbled mess of nonsense." "No one will understand what I had to say." "I'm not good at bearing my testimony."
... Yes. I'm sure we experience a lot of days like this in homeschooling.  The lesson was a mess.  Nothing made sense.  They didn't absorb the information.  I'm not a good homeschooler. But a least you survived the day. (Take note: Experienced, credentialed teachers also experience many days like this.)
     9) Feel proud!  Something prompted you to get up there and bear your testimony at the pulpit, despite all the fears and reasons not to do so. And even better, feel good that you are following the promptings of your Heavenly Father.
... It may seem uncomfortable and unplanned and disastrous, but you had the courage to move forward. And He is always there to guide and comfort you in your decisions. 

     10) MAYBE you didn't get up and bear your testimony.  Maybe you decided not to do it.  That's okay! Don't feel guilty.  You assessed your feelings and your circumstances and you made a decision for yourself.
... Homeschooling does not work out for everyone who wants to do it.  Through trial and error, we either find our niche or we go a different path.  There is no need to feel bad or defensive about choosing another way for yourself and your family.  The Lord supports us in these decisions by encouraging thoughtful prayer, knowledge, and free agency.

“Whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day.” - Alma 36:3

Thank you for listening to my thoughts.  I hope that each of us can be courageous and inspired to follow the spirit to make decisions that will eternally bless us and our families.