four years down the road

I was reading a blog post the other day, that referenced an article written by someone that I used to look up to. When I looked up the full article, to make sure I was understanding what had been implied, I was shocked. “Surely,” I thought, “This lady can’t be serious about this!” But she was.

Coupled with reading that, and realizing that this year is the fourth year I have been out of formal education — the fourth year that I would have been in college and likely would have graduated this year — I figured I would write down my thoughts. And answer a few questions that seem to be prevalent in people I talk to, and dispute a couple of rumors floating around cyber space about those of us who choose an alternative path.

As you know, four years ago this June, I “officially” became a soldier in the ranks of “stay-at-home-daughterhood”; a pioneer trailblazer for different alternatives to life after school. I had several people wonder what I was doing. Why I was doing it. I had some people who silently wondered, some who blatantly questioned, some who vehemently opposed. I’ll be honest — it wasn’t easy. Challenging the social norm isn’t. But then, the easy things are rarely ever the most rewarding, are they?

I had objections thrown at me from different angles: “How will you ever get married?” (That’s one expensive husband!) “What about the college experience?” (Umm…yep. I’m safely at home, not worried about what might happen without a father or brothers around.) “What about finding yourself?” (I already know what I am — a sinner in need of a great Saviour.) “What if your father dies? And your husband? How will you support yourself?” (I’ll follow the Lord’s leading in that instance — and you don’t “need” a degree to make money.) “What do you plan to do all day? Sit on the couch and eat bon-bons and watch soap operas?” (Yes this was seriously a question. And no, I’m not — I’ll do whatever work the Lord gives my hands to do.) 

The opposition, as you can tell, was varied.

The best advice I was ever given was from a dear friend. She told me to always answer people who ask with confidence, not expecting them to question my decision. It really does work — it makes people think that I *know* what I am doing, besides just throwing away the years I should spend being indoctrinated educated. And guess what? I find that if I am open and forthright, not mumbling that I am not in college while shuffling my feet, but articulating it clearly, people usually don’t respond with a polite question about not being smart enough to pass the exams, because I was “home schooled, after all.” (and yes, that’s a true answer I have recieved.)

Contrary to popular opinion, I have not stayed home because I was forced to. I actually wanted to, because I had prayed about it and because I was sure that this life was God’s best for my life.

I didn’t stay home because I was doing what all my friends did — I know very few other girls who have stayed home during this season in their lives, and most of them live hours away.

I have not been kept in perpetual childhood because I have stayed at home — I have had months on end of being away from my parents, of interacting with near strangers, and of being in discussions with people who clearly don’t agree with what I am saying.

I have not been kept from making my own decisions — I have had to make decisions at the drop of a dime, without any parents being around to ask an opinion of.

I have learned to be an adult, to think for myself, and to live with other people, from the safety of home. I have had to deal with mistakes, clean up  my own messes, and learn to interact with others when I don’t agree with them at all.

As a young lady, I feel that some of the most formative years — some of the most important years — in my life are right now. These times as I am learning to be an adult, and making decisions I have never had to make before. It drives me crazy that so many parents are willing to hold their children’s hand until they turn eighteen, and suddenly, they aren’t there for them anymore. I have actually heard a parent refuse to offer counsel when asked. When we children were younger, our parents were right there, holding our hands. They held us up as we learned to walk. First with both hands, keeping our balance. Then they took baby steps with us, and then they held only one hand while we toddled around. Finally they let go of both hands, but hovered over us just in case we fell down. Eventually we were allowed to toddle around on our own, but the minute we cried out for mommy or daddy, they were right there, lifting us up, drying our tears, and making everything right again. And now, all these years down the road, we are seldom in need of our parents hands to steady us as we walk. We didn’t even need them hovering around, watching us walk at three or four years old, because we learned.

Now, it is unrealistic to think that our parents can make everything right again — trust me, they can’t. But they can help us by offering counsel and advice and praying with us and for us. They can be right there, ready to offer advice when we make a mess, hand us a broom and dustpan and set us to sweeping up the mess.

These years I am living right now are the years that I have heard so many lament over. The years when so many abortions occur because temptations are rampant and parents are a ghost of the past. When so many are injured by drivers who are inebriated, or injure others because they themselves are inebriated. When temptations get the best of us, when we make terrible decisions that will haunt us for the rest of our lives, when we make huge mistakes.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can utilize the gift we have been given by God — our parents. They have lived these years before — we never have. They have experience — we have fictional expectations. And they can help guide us through these years.

Back to the point about learning to walk: we won’t always need our parents by our side forever. Trust me on that one, too. Eventually we will marry and move out; and even before that time, we won’t need them hovering over us and making all our decisions for us. Because, yes, the goal is for us to learn how to think and make decisions for ourselves. But the goal is also for us to learn how to make sound decisions by ourselves, decisions that will bring glory to Christ, decisions that won’t be detrimental to our souls. In a few years, we will learn to walk on our own as an adult in this world — but until then, we NEED our parents.

And since this is rather long, I’ll end here and post a part two to this post next week…..

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