**If the following “stream of conciousness” rambling offends you, or hurts your feelings, please accept my apology before hand. After writing and reading it a few times, I wondered if I should pull it off because all in all, I don’t know the other family I’m making presumptions about and it isn’t fair to them – though I doubt anyone will know, specifically, whom I’m referring to but it is a small world and I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Consider this a forewarning. The following is just my observations and thoughts that trailed along while at a Dr’s appointment this morning.**
Two home schooling families walk into a doctor’s office. One family drew a lot of attention to themselves. The other family just kinda blended in with the scene and made themselves comfortable and no one seemed to take much notice of them. At least, not to the extent of the other family!
The first family had “the look”. Mom and daughters in dresses to their ankles, shirts buttoned up to their necks…and even one little girl had an Ocarina strung around her neck. I know exactly where she got THAT idea from and it made me smile remembering the time I spent in fellowship with a certain other home schooling family. Of course the one little boy had on shorts and t-shirt. There was nothing extra modest about him – but he’s a boy – it’s different for boys…or so they would believe anyway. The Mom was beautiful and well put together including a fashionable hair style and nicely applied makeup. She was presentable, which is noteable because she had a baby on her hip and 5 or 6 other children standing quietly around her. Not one of them made a sound the entire time they were in the waiting room. They were all very polite. Quiet. Well mannered.
They had the “right” image of the model perfect Christian Home Schooling family. They even had their backs to the huge TV. I’m sure so as not to expose their children to the evils of CNN. I never saw any of them smile – not even the mother – who didn’t even sit directly with her children but in the chair two arms lengths away. Yes, she was put together but she didn’t look too happy. Nor did any of her children. They looked…rather…robotic.
The second family walked in behind the first family. The Mom was wearing flip flops, low rise bermuda shorts and a v-neck t-shirt that was a little too big…and therefore the v-neckline was a little to low. Her hair was not fixed – ponytails and headbands don’t count! She did not have on any makeup and you could tell that she had probably woken up late. A survey of her children only stood to support that presumption. Her two little girls were dressed in short skirts with t-shirts and sandals. Their hair was unkept and the littlest one looked as if she would have benefitted from a bath! The two boys obviously needed hair cuts and their clothes were mismatched – as two boys will often do when left to their own to get dressed. Their faces were dirty from having scarfed down Breakfast Jacks on the way to the dr’s office and the mother was overheard FORBIDDING the one with braces from opening his mouth until he could get to a bathroom and brush his teeth. As the Mom signed in for the dr. appt. she was actually seen trying to inconspicuously fix her zipper which had opened up, for no real reason. It was quite comical.
As this mom sat down with her children her two boys pulled out their Gameboys and the oldest daughter got out her Neopet cards. The Mom had her the girls come, in turn, to get their hair fixed and the boys, in turn were sent to the bathroom to clean up. The littlest girl sat in her Mom’s lap and they played, sang a song, giggled and read a magazine. First Nickelodeon Kids and then Good Housekeeping. She was happy and content and her children were well mannered, though not quiet. They were happy children, though not obnoxious in any way. They were all just a normal looking family, a happy family. You really wouldn’t even know they were home schoolers. It’s summer. They could have been just a Mom with all her kids on summer break. They appeared very “main stream” and there really was no indication of them being “Christians” at all.
The first family drew a lot of attention to themselves. Weird stares and looks from the other adults in the waiting room. Glances and wrinkled brows from the folks behind the desk. Their children kept staring at the children from family #2. The 2nd Mom tried to smile at one of the girls from family #1 but she just looked away as if to say, “We don’t speak to those of you.” The first Mom kept looking at the 2nd Mom, and you could tell she was wondering if that was another home schooling family. And she probably did not approve of the little girls’ attire … nor the other Mom’s shorts for that matter.
The second family really didn’t have any strange looks or gawks or stares. Only 1 person even said anything – an elderly man – who stated, “Well look at that bunch!” To which the 2nd Mom replied, “Yes! They are a hand full!” But not in a disparaging way – it’s just the truth! They really were a handful! The children from family #1 overheard Mom #2 say this and the oldest daughter grimaced. I know what she was thinking, “Why would any Mom say such a negative thing about her children!”
You might wonder how I know what those people were thinking about family #2. You see…I was the 2nd Mom and my kids were the unkept children with dirty clothes and messy hair. But. At one point in my life though I had been the other Mom, watching and observing others and worrying about things like how people can let their little girls wear mini skirts and wondering why so called Christians let their kids play video games! LOL! I had been the “model-picture-perfect-home-school-family-while-in-public-so-as-to-be-a-good-witness-to-the-world” family.
And the whole time I was being observed by the other family, I simply had a voice in my head saying, “I’m so glad I’m me and not you!”
I’m not saying I’m glad I woke up late and had to scramble to get my kids to the Dr’s office for MY appointment. Nor am I happy, necessarily, that I forgot to wash my laundry and had to wear the red shorts whose zipper likes to come open and the shirt which is really too big but I haven’t thrown it out yet. And I’m not glad that my kids were so messy looking – it was kind of embarrassing, but there was nothing to do about it except clean up as best as possible and just hold my head high. I’m a busy mom. I don’t have time to worry about everyone else getting the right “impression” of our family. I don’t really care what other people think about our family to tell you the truth!
I am saying I’m so glad I’m not in “that place” anymore. I’m not trying to be the “model picture perfect” home school mom, wife, Christian, etc. I’m just me. Nothing special. Nothing fancy. No promises. No demands. Just me. Walkin’ a road, trusting Christ for a straight one.
I’m so glad that the Holy Spirit is teaching me that it (being a Christian) isn’t about upholding the image. Performing the works. Keeping the Laws. Adhering to the customs. Being submissive. Having a Patriarch. Taking communion. Wearing a head covering. Singing Hymns. Going to “Church”. Reading the Correct Version of the Bible. It isn’t even about home education!
It’s about being in a very intimate relationship with God, being in a very intimate relationship with Christ. And investing in THOSE relationships so that I can then have real spiritual fruit here on Earth for the time I’m given. Wearing long dresses, being in the “right” church, adhering to “the Law” is not the fruit God wants us to bear – it is not the witness Christ wants us to be for the world.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Spiritual seeds do not bear physical fruit. They bear spiritual fruit. Legalistic standards for Christians plant physical seeds that may bear physical fruit – but that isn’t what Christianity is at all about.
I think I’ve finally joined ranks with “those we do not speak of“. LOL! You know – the Christian Home Schoolers who are …. dare I say … on the normal side of American culture. It hasn’t been an easy transition. There is a lot of false safety in legalism. It’s safety based on lies…works. It’s a works based religion. And when the lies start to unravel, and your house built on sand comes tumbling down and you are left with just you and God – and you’ve spent all your time investing in doing the right things instead of building the most important relationship….it’s scary – but thankfully there is a safety net … His name is Christ.
I left the office thinking all these things and wondering…how effectively could that family – the picture perfect Vision Forum Cover Catalog family – truly witness to the lost? They seem so detached from normal American culture that even I, another Christian, think they are weird and want nothing to do with their brand of Christianity. How will they win the world for Christ if they repel people from them? We are to lead people to Christ by being in a relationship with Him and then being in relationships with other people and telling them about what Christ has done for us. Not about puting on a show for all the world, as if to say, “Look at how perfect I am!”
How much more effective of a witness would they be if they looked normal and were approachable and inviting and warm and … just … normal? That doesn’t mean they have to let their girls run around in “mini skirts” (mine weren’t by the way, but that is probably what that lady thought of any skirt above the knee!) and bikinis. It just means – be a part of the culture you live in. Jesus was a part of his. And look at the crowds he drew!