So in church last Sunday, the message was about Doubt and Fear, and how they are related. I really needed this sermon because of how much I've been struggling lately when it comes to homeschooling. Whenever we have these struggles, I start regretting homeschooling and I'm longing to go back and have a "Do-Over" where I never remove Austin from public school. In my mind's eye, that would make every thing perfect. The kids would be well-educated and happy. I would have been working full-time all this time so we wouldn't have any money woes. Life would be all rainbows and sunshine. It's all homeschooling's fault.
What piqued my attention to this sermon was something that Pastor said right at the beginning: Just a little bit of doubt can cause us to lose the JOY (in our faith). Ahh, JOY - Word of the Year and all. And then that doubt causes struggles and fears. And sometimes worse. He used the example of Abram and Sarai, and how Sarai doubted that God would provide a son for Abram through her. That doubt caused her to offer up her servant girl, which caused a whole slew of problems. There are plenty of examples in the Bible about doubt - but in all of the, God is merciful to those who doubted. But doubt in itself simply isn't healthy for us. And then he ended the sermon with 3 steps to help us when we are battling doubts.
During the sermon, my mind kept going back to Austin. He is fast approaching 18, and even though he has another year of school due to us holding him back when we started homeschooling, he will be an adult soon. And his friends from baby/childhood are Seniors and are getting college acceptance letters. And that is so hard, for me and for him. I am proud of his friends and so happy for them - but so sad for Austin, and so frustrated and disappointed. And I'm afraid.
And then I start having doubts. Doubts about his future. Feelings of failure on my part for not getting him to the place where he could go to college like his friends. Worries that he will never be able to support himself. I spend so much time having the kids memorize the verse in Jeremiah where the Lord tells us that He has a plan for our lives - to prosper us and not to harm us. But I start to doubt.
Our pastor talked about something that really hit home with me. When we are experiencing doubts, it's often because we are focusing on "the facts". For Austin, the facts are many - he has autism, he has seizures, he has learning disabilities because of the seizures, he struggles to learn and process and express himself, he scored extremely low on the PSAT, he scores low on all standardized tests, he won't have an advanced math credit beyond Algebra 2 when he graduates (required in GA to go to state colleges). I am good with facts, you see?
But what the pastor told us to consider is that there are all sorts of "God facts" that we simply do not see and cannot see. I can't predict the future because I don't have all the facts. There is much more going on that I am incapable of understanding and processing.
I needed that sermon so much, and the steps to battle doubts. I have used them all week, and in fact, I have used some of them multiple times in the same day! ;)
I also need to focus on another set of facts. These facts about Austin are every bit as true as the other facts I listed above - he is kind, he is responsible, he is compassionate, he is persistent, he is a talented drummer, he is dependable. These traits are not something that can be quantified on a standardized test, a transcript, or a college application. But that doesn't make them less important. And God loves him. Way more than I do. And He knows how much Austin wants to be independent and self-sufficient. If there is a reason that He does not allow Austin to do so, then I need to trust that He has a perfectly good reason for it.
And I also need to trust that He had a plan when He led us to homeschooling back in 2002, even when, at least according to the world's standards, I have not been very successful.
"Be merciful to those who doubt." - Jude 1:22 (NIV)
Lord, please be merciful to me and help me to shut out the things that cause me to doubt. Please, carry me through this final season of homeschooling and help me to see it through to the end though it is hard and I feel so weary. Be with me every single step of the way and guide me on the path that You would have me take with each of these very different children. Help me to focus on Your will and your plans. Amen.