March 23 , 2006 EJOURNAL...
Home School Burnout, Part 3
More measures to combat Burnout, continued
Sin and unbelief as causes of burnout
I want to tread lightly here, because personally I think as Christians we've got a warped view of what sin is. We tend to think of sin in terms of behaviors and actions when actually it is a heart attitude that doesn't necessarily express itself outwardly. You probably know plenty of non-believers who are kinder, more loving, and cleaner living than many of the Christians around you but they are totally "lost" when it comes to eternal life. And you also probably know plenty of Christians who have learned to "play the game" so well that everyone is shocked when they find out the secret lives these supposedly "perfect" Christians were leading. So, Christian-like behavior is not necessarily an indication of the heart orientation of Christianity.
And then there are those situations that are difficult to grasp . . . . For example, I have a friend who, after many years of trying to redeem her marriage, finally left her husband because he was unfaithful and abused her and her children. A group of her Christian friends implied she had sinned by ending the marriage because "God hates divorce" while another group told her she would be sinning if she stayed in the marriage because to stay would be to condone her husband's behavior. Yet another group (mostly men) told her that the only reason her husband was unfaithful and abusive was because she wasn't submissive enough. Still others told her he needed to take responsibility for his own choices no matter how submissive or unsubmissive she may have been. So no matter which option she chose, there were Christians telling her she was "in sin." Who was right?
To add to the already confused situation about what is sin and what it is not, we have to face the fact that many of us were raised in families who used shame to mold us into "good" children. So our consciences are already trained to think of ourselves as "bad" and to condemn ourselves for the slightest thing we do that might be considered "sin." Because of this, we tend to take on undeserved guilt which adds to our emotional turmoil and physical exhaustion.
Having said all that, my point is that we need to stay in that place in our relationships with ourselves, with God, and with others where our heart attitude is right and our conscience does not condemn us.
If our conscience condemns us in our relationship with God, all our other relationships suffer and no amount of time management, household organization, self-help, spiritual friendships, mentors, or counselors will help. These measures may seem to provide temporary relief, but will never address the root problem, which is the breach in our relationship with God.
Let’s look at the three most common areas of "conscience condemning" that cause women to be stressed-out. First, there is the area of discipline and training of children. There is a lot of pressure on home schooling Moms to raise "good" children as proof our decision to home school was a wise one.
Next is the area of the husband-wife relationship. If your attitude toward your husband stinks, it will be impossible to achieve a sense of peace and order in your home no matter how hard you try.
The bad news about sin is that it is like a disease that weakens every part of our lives. The good news is that God loves us more than we could ever imagine and He understands our weaknesses. He freely forgives and heals us if we confess our sins and turn from them.
Sometimes burnout is the result of a life in crisis.
Here is the story of one of my “ground zero” experiences. In January, 1994, due to a freak accident, a piece of metal fractured my skull and destroyed my right eye. Just before the accident occurred, my husband had resigned from the pastorate and the lease was up on the house we were renting. This meant we had sixty days to find another place to live and another source of income. At that time we had a fledgling business (The Elijah Company) that certainly was not capable of sustaining us financially.
While I was recovering from surgery for removal of my eye, well-meaning Christians came and counseled me. Most of their counsel was variations on five themes: either (1) there must be some sin in my life for me to have been injured, or (2) I had somehow “come out from under my covering of authority” for this to have happened, or (3) I would never have been injured if my husband hadn’t decided to leave the pastorate, or (4) God was teaching me a powerful lesson through this, or (5) I must be a very special person for God to have let this happen to me. All of this conflicting counsel further unraveled me emotionally and I began to feel like I would throw up if I ever heard Romans 8:28 again.
After my release from the hospital, I had to be very careful in standing, and was not supposed to lift anything or do any physical work for six weeks. The only comforting aspect of that six weeks was a tape my sister sent me with the chorus, “I’m going to walk right out of this valley, lift my hands and praise the Lord!” I don’t know the name of the song, but I played it over and over.
But a remarkable thing happened. Some people I had thought were good friends vanished, but people I hardly knew started packing up the house for me. They brought meals and offered to watch the children. A church group from another part of town came over the day we had to move, rented the moving van, loaded it, drove it to our new place, unloaded it, and cleaned up the old house. Then they presented us with a “love offering” of enough money to help us get started in the new direction we felt God was leading us.
The challenges continued. Losing an eye meant losing depth perception and balance, so I had to re-learn how to do many, many things I had never before realized relied on hand-eye coordination, balance, and depth perception. This was a very long, fearful process, but I had to keep going because life didn’t slow down just because I had been injured. I had children who needed caring for, two of whom needed special care because they had ongoing life-threatening illnesses. I had a household that needed managing and a business that needed me to write catalogs, speak at conventions, and exhibit at book fairs.
Several months after the surgery, I went for one of my monthly doctor’s appointments and happened to sit in the waiting room next to a man who had also lost his eye. I asked him what had helped him get through it and he told me his story.
There is one final “gift” I want to mention. One of my greatest private griefs in losing an eye was that I found I couldn’t ride a horse anymore because I would get dizzy and lose my balance. I struggled with feeling like one of the things I loved to do most had been stripped from me.
So guess what? I started to ride again. It was scary and a struggle, but I did it. I bought myself a show mare and began taking dressage lessons and started showing in dressage shows.
So what’s the point of all this. Well, one point is that your “ground zero” experience may be the turning point in someone else’s life. Another point is that “ground zero” experiences will eventually enter the “This too shall pass” phase and life will move on. The third point is that there will always be someone else whose “ground zero” experiences make yours look like a piece of cake. The fourth point is that, after a “ground zero” experience, life’s everyday hassles don’t seem so hard to bear. And the final point is that these experiences can be “gifts” in disguise, gifts that bring you face to face with Who God really is.
I know this article is way too long, and I’ve turned it into a testimonial, but before closing I want to share about my father's funeral. He died unexpectedly and our grief was intense, but the funeral was a family celebration of his life and faith in God. My son James sang one of Papa’s favorite hymns, my husband and I both spoke and shared memories of his life, and his grand-daughter read a poem she had written.
During the preparations for my father’s funeral, I began thinking about my grandmother, Caroline Blackshear Bridges. When she died nearly 30 years ago, I drove to Blakely, Georgia to attend her funeral. As I looked around me at her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, as well as all the friends who had assembled in the Blakely First Baptist Church to pay their respects to the woman we had all called “Miss Carrie,” I thought about Exodus 20: 5 that says God visits “the sins of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation.”
So at my grandmother’s funeral over half a century after James C. Bass died, I realized that nearly every one of Miss Carrie’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren were Christians. As I sat through that funeral, I was overcome with gratitude for my godly heritage.
Then, at my father’s funeral (Miss Carrie’s son), I again saw children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren: three generations who had all been affected by my father’s belief in God. My father was not only a Christian, he was a Southern gentleman, who imparted a legacy of loyalty, integrity, principle, productivity, and confidence to his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, as well as to all those around him. He gave us all a firm belief that each person’s life could count for something.
I spoke at my father’s funeral, and what I shared was that God is faithful to bless righteousness. One righteous person can impact four generations, and those four generations can each impact four generations after them, so that the ongoing impact of righteousness can be never-ending as it passes down into the future. In fact, the Bible tells us God shows His mercy and steadfast love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments (Exodus 20:6).
How about that? We can bring mercy and steadfast love to a thousand generations simply by loving God and keeping His commandments.
So, I guess what I want to tell each of you who reads this article is: your life can affect forever. Maybe you don’t have generations of godliness standing behind you, but you can start where you are and affect your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren—at least three generations beyond you. And each of them can affect at least three generations beyond them. And who knows? If God were once willing to spare Sodom for only ten righteous men, maybe your presence in your own city has more of an impact than you could ever imagine.
I know this article tends to sound like I’ve got it all together. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It’s only by God’s grace that I am a fairly sane woman today, and I've made more than my fair share of bad choices and failures. So I feel very hypocritical in writing this article.
What makes me bold enough to write it is that I used to love listening to John Wimber, founder of the Vineyard Fellowships. Wimber’s life impacted thousands, but every time he spoke he freely acknowledged there was nothing in him of any worth. He would often say, “I’m just a fat man trying to get to heaven.” Well, I’m a lot like that. I’m just a frazzled, adventurous Mom trying to get to heaven.
If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. (James 1: 1- 5, The Message Bible)
More rants and raves coming in the next issue . Stay tuned....
You might be home schooled if...
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The Big Seminar. Only one more week left to sign up for The Big Seminar. It will be April 7, 8, and 9 in Atlanta.
Books by Edith Schaeffer. I also had the priviledge of spending time with Edith Schaeffer and she has been one of my role models for all of my Christian life.
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