There are so many days, in so many ways, when I feel inadequate.
Days that assure me I can stretch out in the cool, dew-covered morning grass? I need them.
Days that promise me I can watch the clouds conga across the bright azul field of sky for as long as I choose to? I need them.
Days that insist on no strict schedule? I need them.
This week on our homestead, fall hues are whispering prematurely. Twilight is too eager with his daily greeting.
Long, warm days dwindle into a handful of cool lake swims, and we gather a few more basketfuls of lush pole beans and enjoy brisk walks.
My daughters and I begin our effort to return to a homeschool routine, and I’m so thankful I relished the long, needed respite of summer. Days when I had no books I had to read to someone, and no books I had to have read to me. No calendar I had to consult. No watch I had to wear. We even finished our book work a little earlier in May than usual, partially so mom could watch cloud conga lines forming above the barn, but also so we could have more time for, well, learning… the kind of learning one can only do in the summer months.
But true to my self-belittling nature, I was stewing over my inadequacies yesterday. As I’ve done so many times before when I feel inadequate, I started making mental lists.
I itemized all the things I thought we’d accomplish during our long break that we never even attempted. Mad at myself that after 15 years of homeschool summers I still didn’t enforce my annual idea of “We’ll do just one summer math lesson just one time a week. It’ll keep us up-to-date and we won’t have to review come September.”
But we made it on a longer run than ever in the history of our homeschool summers. Yes, we did three lessons in math this summer. I think. Or was it only two, that we spread out over three weeks. Or was it four weeks?
Yesterday, as I pinned jeans to the clothesline, I was contemplating my failures. With each snap of a wooden pin over a cotton tshirt or a denim waist, I grew more infuriated that I truly didn’t even know how embarrassingly little math my daughters had completed this summer.
Then I abandoned my basket of clothes, walked to the lower field and plopped down in the sun-warmed clover.
As I’ve done so many times before when I feel inadequate, I halted my rapid-fire negative thoughts by reciting Philippians 4:8. My only audience was the hen who ran to investigate my unusual behavior.
I assigned one adjective to each wisp of white cloud as it emerged over the barn roof in the distance and danced around the finch house. Seven adjectives in all.
Fight Feelings of Inadequacy
–With 7 Little Adjectives —
. . . whatever is true, think about these things. . .
Truth is, all learning does not come from textbooks. That’s a truth I still have to remind myself of a decade and a half into my homeschool journey. Because when I compare myself to others–others who use textbooks and and actually complete all their textbooks–I feel inadequate.
. . . whatever is honorable. . .
While it seems there is nothing honorable about the many hours my daughters spent this summer in our cool front room watching Fixer Upper and Cupcake Wars, they went on to build a doll house together and do a lot of investigative learning and experimental baking in the kitchen together. Turns out the shows inspired some pretty honorable activities.
. . . whatever is just. . .
One daughter who has worked long arduous years toward a goal of rescuing horses had help clearing fields this summer and had the reward of working on the first stage of fencing to make her dream a reality.
. . . whatever is pure. . .
Our first spring on our new homestead we had the purely mesmerizing experience of watching new farm members grow, one day at a time. And notice the amazing differences from 2 days old to 2 weeks old… from 2 weeks old to 2 months old…
. . . whatever is lovely. . .
The gardening my young homesteader and I enveloped ourselves with? It produced lovely results. The learning process involved in designing, turning over, and planting our vegetable garden was lovely. The literal fruit of our efforts was indeed lovely.
Every evening when I stand in it, I breathe in the greeness of our efforts and adore the rowed beauty.
. . . whatever is commendable. . .
They dove into a simple act of philanthropy this summer, making art kits for children’s hospitals. But better yet, they found ways to bring other kids along for the plunge. That was definitely a praiseworthy use of time.
. . . if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise . . .
So I thought about these things. And I realized that all good things take time.
Chicks growing into hens.
Seeds producing sandwiches.
And children blooming into responsible young adults, teaching themselves and working with their hands.
It takes time, and yes, sometimes they need to hijack that time away from book work. In the end, that can indeed be very good.
And in the end, Mom, you need to stop beating yourself up about the things you didn’t do. Instead, realize what those undone things allowed your family to do.
But most of all, feel God’s peace and fight feelings of inadequacy by focusing on the true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, and excellent aspects of every moment. Even if you need to lay in the clover and watch the clouds conga while you do so.
Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things… and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9
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