Yesterday was the complete opposite of what I expected. And, for me, it was a simple confirmation that God does answer prayer and He does have a plan.
You see, yesterday morning, I had a speaking engagement. That meant I needed to leave my younger daughter with someone else during the hours we normally do school. Usually, when something like this comes up, I leave her with my parents and they make sure she gets her schoolwork done, but they're off enjoying retirement while traveling in Southeast Asia for almost a month. So, a friend of mine who also homeschools agreed to let her come over.
When I picked my daughter up, she didn't have much of her schoolwork done. I knew that work had to get done yesterday. We're already behind because of snow days and conference days for my older daughter. (When my older one is out of school, my younger one gets the day off, too.) We had to slog through some schoolwork yesterday.
I told my daughter that even though it was past the time we usually finish school, she had to finish the work I had assigned. I expected my day to go quickly downhill when I told her. I expected much weeping and gnashing of teeth. I expected my day to suddenly become very long.
What I got was a daughter who came home, dug in her backpack and started working. She wasn't super happy, but she didn't complain. She didn't cry. She didn't whine. She just got it done.
And I almost cried. You see, this year of homeschooling has been a tough transition for me. For the first four months, I thought my daughter and I were going to kill each other. I thought the behaviors we were trying so hard to work on were never going to become a reality. I thought this year might never end.
But yesterday, I saw the rewards of obedience. I saw what happens when God asks us to do something we really don't want to do, and we obey. I saw why His plan is often better than my own. In that one moment where my daughter had a choice to be angry, frustrated and whiney, she chose to be focused and complaint-free. And it was huge. In that one moment I heard God whisper to me, "See, I told you this would all be worth it. I told you I knew what I was doing."
Sometimes God asks us to do what seems impossible. A year ago, I was ready to throw up my hands with this child. She was breaking my heart with her attitudes and behaviors. She was hard to get along with and unable to hold onto her emotions.
That's when God told us we needed to take a break from public school for a year and bring her home where we could focus on those behaviors. I did not want to do it. I did not want to give up my well-ordered life to have a child home with me 24 hours a day. I did not want to fight the daily battles with her. But God spoke loudly -- and clearly.
There have been many days that I've wondered if keeping her home was making any difference. But lately we've had several moments like yesterday. Moments when she's made the right choice without being prompted. Moments where I've expected an eruption of emotion and gotten a mature response instead. Moments that couldn't have happened without obedience to what God asked.
Parenting is never a cut-and-dried proposition. Different kids need different things. But all kids need us to be obedient to God's promptings. He knows what our kids need, and He's willing to share that wisdom with us. However, being obedient to God's callings as a parent sometimes means we have to choose the hard road. It sometimes means we have to do things that are outside of our comfort zone. And it sometimes means we have to swim upstream against the prevailing wisdom of society.
But when we obey God's promptings as a parent, the rewards are great. That obedience allows us to mold our kids not just in the direction we think they should go but in the direction that God wants them to go. And more than anything, that's what we want for our kids.