Overcoming the Dragon of Defeat

When I was a college student,  I struggled with writing. Back in those days – not exactly prehistoric – there were no word processing programs, no personal computers, no touch screens. My state-of-the-art electric typewriter could backspace one space to make a correction with a double tape ribbon. That meant, if I caught a spelling error within a space, I could easily fix it. Otherwise I had to get out the liquid white-out and paint over the mistake, blow it dry, and try to type over it without making a big blotchy mess. Needless to say, my papers were less than lovely and usually took a number of hours to complete. 

You might be wondering where I am going with this detailed commentary from the ‘80s. But restarting anything can be as discouraging and draining as writing those papers were to me so many years ago. With each new sheet of paper, I got more discouraged rather than hopeful. It is difficult to continue anything when we feel defeated. I thought that dragon was conquered with the completion of college, but the familiar feeling of defeat popped its head up again in the early years of my homeschooling journey. It took a change of perspective to finally defeat the dragon.

If you are like me, we spend all summer long planning and purchasing the upcoming school curriculum. We are gung-ho when August comes and are confident our schedule will wow the kids. Needless to say, by October we are patching plans together because life just happens. We often feel defeated as home school parents when we watch our well-developed plans unravel before our eyes. Anything can create a detour in the best made plans; illnesses, babies, family issues, learning disabilities, household crises, etc.

I will never forget the time our home school co-op was meeting at our house, we were doing a unit study on space. The co-op consisted of three moms and nine students. We took turns teaching and it was my turn. It so happened my husband and I had scheduled a carpenter to come the same morning to replace some French doors. He arrived before co-op and was already making good progress when my friends arrived. I ushered them upstairs into what we called the schoolroom and began to teach about the obstacles astronauts overcame living in outer space. About thirty minutes into the lesson, the carpenter called up the stairs with a less-than-calm voice. I excused myself and went to see what the problem was. He said that he couldn’t continue.  He stood where the glass doors had been only an hour before and pulled at the wooden door frame overhead, termite maggots showered him. He nonchalantly brushed them away. I was repulsed and shocked. My outburst brought the co-op downstairs which added to my embarrassment. Needless to say, we did no more school that day. It took four days for the house and our lives to get back in order. 

The point I want to make is, if you look at your initial plans each year as what must take place to accomplish a successful school year, you will be frustrated. But if you look at those plans for what they are, ‘plans’ and tweak them throughout the year you will be just as effective and a bit more realistic. Our attitudes toward challenges will be what our children remember. If you are angry, frustrated and disappointed on a regular basis, your children will look at their education with the same attitudes.  Our children sense our dissatisfaction, and whether or not we are disappointed in them or the circumstances that alter our routine, they will feel responsible. The way we respond to these bumps in the road will have a determining factor in the way our children view themselves and the challenges they will face in the future.

If you’ve ever been involved in the building of a house, you know that the plans that you begin with rarely depict the finished product. We can view the education of our children with the same perspective. We might set out with something in mind for our children, but the Lord is the one who is ultimately responsible for the finished product and we can trust Him with the outcome. God allows these challenges in our lives to teach us to trust Him and to persevere. We will be the most successful teachers if our children learn to deal with the obstacles with hope and diligence. God’s word has a way of putting things back into the right perspective for me. The way to overcome the dragon of defeat in homeschooling, is to begin each day anew, placing the challenges and the outcome into the hands of the Lord. How is this done? By reminding yourself of His words of encouragement and teaching them to your children, and then faithfully committing your work to the Lord. Then begin again!

Proverbs 16:3    Commit your works to the Lord, And your plans will be established.

Proverbs 5:21    For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the LORD, and He watches all his paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6    Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your ways straight.

Psalm 145:2-4    Everyday I will bless You and I will praise Your name forever and ever. Great is the LORD and highly to be praised and His greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise Your works to another and shall declare Your mighty acts.

1 Corinthians 15:58   Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.

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Bethany Den Boer

Christian Children's Author and Speaker

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