Pomp and Circumstance played as the graduates walked down the aisle. But surprisingly I didn’t cry. For 15 years we educated our children at home and we had reached the finish line.
Honestly, I wasn’t sure how I would react. We celebrate at graduation, but we also remember. Pictures of our graduates at different ages played across the screen, family and friends gathered together to honor these young men and women—a joyous and sad occasion all mixed together for so many.
We reached the finish line.
As Paul came to the end of his life, he stated in 2 Timothy 4:7,
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Paul knew his purpose in life—to bring the gospel to the Gentiles—and he was faithful to do just that. He didn’t look back regretting his mistakes, his years of persecuting the church, or the pride he must have taken in his heritage, accomplishments, and position before Christ appeared to him on that road to Damascus.
It can be easy to look back and focus on what we regret, or even puff ourselves up at all our children (and we) accomplished. But in Philippians 3:13b-14, we find out why Paul was able to make this statement as he realized his death was near.
But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Forgetting What Lies Behind
Ultimately as Christians, we live to glorify God, to love Him, and to love others as ourselves. However, in different seasons of our lives the circumstance through which we live this out looks different. For the past 15 years, one of our goals has been to disciple our children and prepare them for whatever God has for their futures. Just like there are different events in a track meet—whether long distance races, hurdles, or sprints—our lives are filled with different events in the bigger race. And the one we just finished participating in was homeschooling.
As I look back, there are things I wish I had done better, or at least differently. And there are those things that I think we did well. There is nothing wrong with thinking about these things as we reach the end of our homeschool journeys. Scripture often encourages us to remember.
The point of remembering though, is to see the faithfulness of God—not to puff ourselves up with pride or wallow in regrets.
We don’t want to spend so much time looking back that we stop moving forward.
Forgetting means to put something out of one’s mind. My pastor once said, “To forget, sometimes you first need to go back and deal with it.” So let me encourage you: if there is something you need to deal with in your homeschool past, then do it.
Do you need to ask your children for forgiveness in some area? Do you need to work on restoring a broken relationship? Do you need to hand your children’s lives over to their Heavenly Father instead of holding on so tightly? Instead of trying to control everything?
Spend some time in reflection and prayer, and meditate on the truth of God. Do the thing you need to do, even if it scares you.
Then let it go. Forget in a way that puts those regrets out of your mind. Remember instead what God has taught you. Remember His character. Remember that He can write a new story.
Maybe you look back, feeling quite puffed up when you see all of your children’s accomplishments. I’m not talking about the pride we feel when are children are doing well, making good decisions, or when we see Christ’s character displayed in their lives. I’m talking about the kind of pride that compels us to announce every award and accomplishment on social media—the pride where we pat ourselves on the back for the great job we did. The pride that doesn’t acknowledge God. The one that drives us to tell others how they should do it, too. The pride that says, “I figured out a formula for success.”
Once again, deal with it. Examine yourself and your motives through the lens of Scripture. Hebrew 4:12-13 tells us,
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
And remember: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
Then let it go.
Let it all go, so that when you do remember, you can focus on God’s faithfulness through this journey. You can thank Him for all He has done and all He will do. And you can move forward.
Straining Forward to What Lies Ahead
Paul didn’t just forget what was behind. Like a runner in a race, he saw the finish line and he stretched himself toward the goal. He put his effort into moving forward.
If he had put all his energy toward looking back, he would not have finished the race well.
Running a race requires focusing on the finish line. Without that focus, it is too easy to stumble. It is too easy to look at other racers, spending time comparing their race to our own. Forward progress slows or stops altogether.
If the event you are participating in right now is homeschooling your children, remember to keep your focus on Christ. And if you are finished with your own homeschooling race, guess what? You can focus on the same thing.
Yes. Homeschooling may have been one of the events in our lives. But the big race isn’t over. That race take a lifetime, and its rewards are eternal.
A New Event
So yes, we finished homeschooling. This is what I wrote on my Facebook page the day of graduation:
I finished homeschooling my sons, but I will always be their mom.
They have both finished their homeschool studies, but they will always be learning.
A season of life is ending, but a new one is coming.
I’m so grateful for these years we have had together and all of the incredible memories we share. I’m so proud of both my boys and their friends, and excited for all God will do in their lives.
God is faithful. A new season begins each time another one ends. Let us remember all God has done and look forward to all that He will do in our lives and the lives of our children. Even though this chapter is over, God is still writing a story. Let us press on.
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.
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