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It is so easy to look at someone’s life from our bird’s eye view and look back at our own wearing the critical goggles and think- it’s not enough. I’m not enough. I’m not doing enough. I need to do more. I need to be where someone else is. I need to align my life with what everyone else does. This is so easy to do and so wrong for our lives.
Whenever I start to make too many changes and add new things to my pile of to-dos, I slow down under the weight of my list. Whenever I feel that I need to be more like someone else in how she does: this and this and this, I feel overwhelmed. When I start to worry that I’ll never get everything done, or my kids taught all that “everyone says” they should know (fill in the blank and infinity), and read all the books recommended on other’s shelves, I feel faint. When my kids or husband doesn’t measure up to my expectations, the critical goggles blind me to what their qualities are and why I love them. Whenever I leave the path of simplicity I begin to buckle under the weight of my load. Whenever I start to question my abilities or my path, I feel like quitting and I feel confusion cloud my clarity and vision.
The moment we let someone else dictate what we should do and what we should teach and leave everything else behind, we start on a path of unhappiness and unfulfillment. Only Heavenly Father can lay the path before you that you must follow. He knows your children, He knows YOU. He loves you all and your successes are HIS successes.
He brings inspiring people into your life. He brings mentors, examples, and wonderful people with ideas and stories and tools. It is ours to decide what is essential for our family, through study, learning, and prayer, and to be confident in it. When we move about following each new person and new idea, we can sometimes feel unsure and lack the confidence we need to grow. When we find a mentor, do we follow everything he/she does? I dare to say we should not. I think we learn from each person in our lives both good examples and what does not and should not work for our family.
Dear, friend, it doesn’t have to be so complicated. The simple life is the holy life. The confident woman is the leader with her spouse and for those who know her. But, the winds blow, and the rains beat against the door, and the storm rages on the outside. Do we let it in? Or, do we keep going step by step in faith?
When I look back on these last 20 years as a mother, I am astounded at the speed that time flies. When we’re in the midst of diapers, mouthy kids, bedtimes, and dirty dishes and floors, it seems it will never end. But, these examples are the essential aspects of life, mothering and homeschool. These are the important parts of life. When no one is around, when it is us with our loved ones, how we behave and what we give is key to ours and their learning and growth.
Why do we overcomplicate things when it isn’t necessary? I found myself in that trap again recently. After much prayer, I finally heard my answer. Why do it that way? It is too complicated. A part of me feels that everyone should run off and read different books about different subjects and do different things for their education. It is too much. I’m spreading myself too thin. Again I was reminded that family learning is the key. We don’t have to read all the greatest works together in one year. Learning, like we have, everyday, bit by bit, is enough. It all adds up to create a beautiful and full sum. When I feel inspired to bring something new in, we study it and do it until we’re not interested anymore. That is normal. That is healthy and right. Why beat a dead horse? Let it run free in the pasture after we have learned all the lessons. If it is their mission to study it in-depth, then I will send them to the in-depth works. Not everything is meant to be studied to the very end. We only have time for what is important. We as mothers can answer that question for our children, it is our God-given right and He trusts us completely in this. He will always guide us when we need and heed the prompting.
Life should flow. If we are pushing too hard and it doesn’t flow naturally, something is off. I feel most fulfilled and productive when I’m surrounded by my family and we are learning the gospel, singing hymns, and having discussions, and serving, and loving. I feel that my part is done when I end the day having done this. It is always a bonus when we also get in math, read aloud, and another study in. I know the Lord is pleased when I see my sixteen year old son reading a bedtime book to his five year old brother. Or when my eldest daughter is taking the kids on a walk or studying a subject with a sibling. Or when my youth babysits or cleans someone’s house for a service because they love to help. When my children love to learn and are willing to share their testimonies, I know I’m doing what is required of me. But, when I’m becoming stressed because of a schedule or timeline or comparison, and I’m trying to shove and fit pieces in pegs that do not fit, I have to remember it is not right for me or my family. I’m still learning this lesson.
Life is filled with learning opportunities. A visit with friends, a group discussion, a field trip, an inspiring documentary, a swimming lesson. This is education. Someone somewhere thought to write all the stuff they knew in a book and call it a text book and then made it required reading to be “learned”. How did they receive the knowledge in the first place? Is not using the textbook keeping us from the most important lessons? Unless that “textbook” is scripture, the answer is NO. Are we still giving someone and their textbooks or lists of to-dos the power of our happiness and our direction? If so, what are ways we can change this? Remember, Secure Not Stressed is the key here.
If everything you did today turned to treasure tomorrow. What value would your efforts bring? If we’re focused in a million directions, we can only gather gold dust. If we’re spending time creating the real nuggets of goodness, this is the most essential and most fulfilling. Everything else is the icing on the cake. What I do day by day adds up. What I do day by day is enough.