My youngest kiddo started playing soccer this year and with that came a new tradition of sorts…McDonald’s ice cream cones after the games and many of his practices! One time in particular we actually needed to eat dinner so our kids heard one of their most favorite phrases, “Yes, you can have a Happy Meal.” Nothing brings out the cheers or the praising of their parents quite like this phrase!
In my youngest’s Happy Meal was an awesome Batman Mask. He loved it! Joining us for our McDonald’s time was a friend in his teens who was a Batman enthusiast and very interested in said mask. He offered my son a deal for the mask: his barely eaten ice cream cone for the mask. (On this occasion we were not going to get the kids their own ice cream cones but let them share one since they got a Happy Meal.) I could see the wheels in my little ones head turning. He was extremely interested in both options. Getting his very own ice cream cone that he didn’t have to share, or keeping the mask that he just got and loved. My husband and I were in the background shaking our heads and hands trying to urge him to not take the deal! (I knew exactly what would happen if he did.) But then, as would be true with most 4 year olds, he opted to take the deal for the more immediate gratification of the ice cream without taking into consideration the consequences of letting go of the mask. For about 10 or so minutes he was so happy, but then the ice cream was gone and he had nothing. That’s about when the tears started. Cries for the toy to come back rang out from my distraught little guy all the way home and continued until he got in the bed.
(Side story…he kept asking why he couldn’t have the toy back and we told him that we were trying to help him learn to be a man in letting his yes be yes and his no be no. He responded, through loads of tears, “But I’m not a man! I’m just a little boy!” Precious, pitiful child!)
It was so very pitiful, but it was a clear object lesson on instant gratification.
This is an area that I struggle with immensely. I want what I want when I want it, and it is a struggle for me to go through the necessary work to get to what I want. Even if what I want is good and noble and honoring to the Lord, I would much rather it come to me quickly, easily, and with as little effort on my part as possible. I’m a sinful mess.
But praise the Lord for His grace to messes like me.
* Instant Gratification and Homeschooling *
Yesterday during school time with my kiddos a thought hit me about how my bent towards instant gratification and homeschooling will NEVER coexist well, and if I try to seek instant gratification in this endeavor I’m going to burnout and give up quickly.
Those phonics lessons with my girl would have caused me to throw in the towel YEARS ago! Those math concepts that they get one minute but somehow COMPLETELY forget the next would have had me looking into the nearest school in a heartbeat. Those times when I thought they are getting what I was saying, but then they proved with their sweet little random comments that no, in fact, they didn’t get what I was saying at all, would have reduced me to a puddle of frustrated tears with chants of “give up, give up” ringing in my ears!
But homeschooling, and really any worthy endeavor, is pretty much guaranteed to never come with significant instant gratification. Homeschooling is like a journey across the country, if you will. It’s not a quick trip to the store around the corner. It takes planning and believing there will be beautiful stops along the way to your desired destination, but you still know the majority of the time is the task of driving. It’s surely an amazing adventure with beautiful scenery and sunsets, yes, but many of the aspects of the drive are grueling.
So what do you do with this? How does a person who struggles with the desire for instant gratification decide to homeschool and stick with it year after year? There are lots of tips and thoughts floating around to help those on the journey, but I want to tell you what I believe to be the biggest help to my little heart in midst of the hard moments. It’s what I cling to when I want to give up and it’s what I stand firm upon when I feel shaky.
Homeschooling must be done with greater vision in your mind’s eye than what your eyes can actually see in the here and now.
Proverbs 29:18 says:
“Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast of restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.”
Another way to read this verse is, “without vision the people are discouraged.”
Surrounding this verse in scripture is the emphasis on the law and the importance of discipline. Without discipline and without vision for the law the people will go their own way and not follow the best way. Left to ourselves we will always go our own way, but when we have vision and cast vision of following the law to those around us, there is blessing.
These principles can be true of homeschooling too.
If I don’t have vision for where I am hoping to go with homeschooling and what the heart behind this journey is I would be one discouraged momma! And, I would be quick to throw off my restraints and put my kids in school somewhere! As a writer, the appeal to abandon ship and give myself more time to do what I want to do makes the option of sending my kids off every day all the more appealing.
But I do have vision, and the vision I have is worth far more to me than abandoning it for another worthy pursuit. I believe 100% that this is exactly what I am supposed to be doing. I have hope that every single moment is not just for my kids’ good, but for my good too! My vision and hope for my kids and this journey helps me to press on when both the moments that tempt to discourage me appear and in the moments that I want to cast of restraint and go my own way.
If you struggle with the pull of wanting instant gratification like me, have hope! There is much grace for you! Ask God to help you cultivate vision for your life and for your homeschool, then cling to that vision. Our sin will always be a struggle, and I know for me dying to my desire for instant gratification is most likely never going to happen perfectly. But, God’s grace in Christ never runs out.
Seek Him for help. Seek Him for hope. Seek Him for vision.