Have you ever tried to take a pair of scissors from a toddler?
You approach with quiet caution to not cause sudden excitement or flight. You stealthily reach from behind with slow, steady movement and calm, consoling words.
If they recognize your intention, the game will be on. Arms flailing, the naive little one will take off running with glee in the game you have initiated. Unaware of the danger, they might even forget something is in their hand.
The alternative to the game is a fight. They realize you want something they have. With scissors tightly grasped in chubby fingers, they’ll jerk and jump to avoid your attempts. Desire to have their own way will place them at risk they cannot understand.
The wise mom knows this situation requires subtle tactics. Distraction and diversion come to the rescue. You offer a toy, a snack, anything more appealing to the young one. A popsicle just might save the day.
To release their grip on danger, their hand needs something else to hold.
If you’re a mom homeschooling with chronic illness, you might be like this toddler.
You’re possibly holding onto something unaware of the danger it could bring to your heart and your home. If others offered protection, you might even fight to clutch it more tightly. Hold it long enough, and you’ll forget it is in your grasp.
Feelings of guilt are your figurative scissors.
Yes, you have a long list of rational reasons to feel the guilt. The illness interferes regularly with your plans and dreams of learning-filled days with your children. Your physical stamina prevents you from keeping up with tasks and activities.
Day after day, the frustration continues. You try to keep going, only to crash. There’s no end in sight. You might wonder if your children would be better off back in school.
The voices in your head become familiar, yet unwelcome, companions.
- “I’m a horrible house-keeper.”
- “I’m always grouchy and irritable.”
- “I’m no fun with school.”
- “I’m no fun with anything.”
- “I’m perpetually behind in everything.”
- “It’s my fault we have to cancel plans and activities.”
- “I shouldn’t spend so much time caring for myself.”
Some bit of truth lies behind each statement. A bit of truth, however, stretches into a lie. When you allow the thought to transform into self-condemnation, you’ve bought into risky thoughts of unnecessary guilt.
Are you unknowingly grasping lies of guilt, no longer aware of the danger you hold?
Those lies can leave you defeated. Those lies can magnify your symptoms. Those lies might even convince you to quit homeschooling altogether.
Why do we hold tightly to such dangerous thoughts?
Good question. Why does the toddler hold so tightly to the scissors?
Simply put: It’s hard to let go.
Just as the toddler needs something different to reach toward to release their grasp, you too might need distraction and diversion to release your mental grasp on the lies that grip you.
You need new, life-giving thoughts to replace the mental fog of condemnation.
- “I am giving my children a model of perseverance through trials.”
- “It’s ok that we can’t attend every activity.”
- “Caring for myself physically is one element of caring for my family.”
- “I am giving my children love and attention even if I don’t have physical capacity to be super ‘fun’.”
- “Maybe we’re right where we need to be. “Behind” is an arbitrary term, probably based in unrealistic expectations.”
Use these statements as a starting point.
Write your own statements to replace the guilty ones. First, write down some of the specific thoughts that swirl in your mind producing feelings of guilt. Then, write a statement to counteract each one.
When feelings of guilt threaten to consume you, pull out your list. Grab onto the life-giving statements so you can release your grasp on the guilt-producing lies.
One truth to include that overcomes all thoughts and feelings of guilt when homeschooling with chronic illness:
In my weakness, I have an opportunity to receive Jesus’ power and allow the Holy Spirit to transform my heart.
Spend a few minutes reading II Corinthians 12:7-10 to let that truth soak in. Post it somewhere for anytime you need to let go of guilt connected with being weak with illness.
What is the lie of guilt you are clutching today?
Replace that lie with a statement of truth. Let go of the guilt.
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Aimee Smith is a second-generation homeschool momma of four and author of The Restful Homeschool Resolution: 21 Days to Transform Your Homeschool. She and her husband Aron live in Alabama with their four children (ages 10-16) and enjoy hiking, camping, swimming, and reading together. Their family enjoys serving together through Aimee’s leadership in their local homeschool community.
Their homeschool story could be chronicled by persistent struggles and battles of life, including a decade-long battle with Aimee’s autoimmune disease. However, she chooses to focus on God’s redemption of each trial as part of her family’s education. Through tenacious worship, she is learning to live in victorious rest. Join Aimee at AimeeSmith.com for encouragement to cultivate victorious rest in the midst of your homeschool days, or find her on Facebook or Instagram.