When Challenges Build Character
As homeschoolers, we have lots of opportunities to face challenges, don’t we? There is the continual attempt to plan our weekly schedule. We are always looking for the best curriculum to meet our child’s needs (and to fit Mom’s needs, too!). We face days where our children don’t understand what we are teaching, or they don’t want to learn what we are teaching. We face days when WE don’t understand what we are teaching, or WE don’t want to teach it!
Yes, “challenge” is a common word when it comes to raising and teaching our children, isn’t it?
But let me tell you something. When it comes to parenting, actually when it comes to ANYTHING dealing with another person, challenges will always be there.
Yet, challenges often bring blessing.
Years ago, one of my children had great difficulty with spelling. I looked at every curriculum…they all had different methods and strategies. So I kept changing curricula each year thinking I was just a rotten spelling teacher. I kept searching the shelves, looking for a curriculum titled: “Fix my Broken Speller In-a-Box.” Guess what? They don’t make it. Believe me, I looked. The problem was that I was trying to take this problem in my own two hands and find a way to tackle it by myself.
But, when our Lord charges us to train up our children, He wants us to do it not with our own strength but with His. I kept trying to fix the problem and could not understand why we were having so much trouble.
Yet through this challenge year after year, there was an unexpected blessing! We learned something. Not spelling so much, but something waaay more important.
I learned patience (long-suffering) and my son learned perseverance. You see, daily, I was frustrated with his lack of progress (not lack of work, just lack of progress) and had to control my gut reaction which kept saying, “Why don’t you get this?” I kept biting my tongue, realizing MY inability to do this BY MYSELF. I began to call out to the Lord for His guidance, for His strength, for His patience. I started to see things from my son’s perspective and come alongside him to “fight this together.”
I realized that he, too, was frustrated daily with the difficulty he faced and how hard it seemed to be. We began to pray together, asking the Lord for encouragement as we faced a new spelling list each week. And my son persevered through it all. I began to realize that all that my children learn and can do is not because of my “amazing” teaching abilities or family genetics but what the Lord has done for US.
It turned out that my son had an issue processing information. We didn’t even know the name for his situation (dysgraphia) until he was in high school! But I was so blessed to see how we benefited from that challenge.
We were learning character. You may know that I place a great deal of value on building character. I think it is one of the most important things you can help develop in your children.
But this challenge was NOT a pleasure to go through. However it was a blessing to go through as we each learned to lean on the Lord for his help, to call out to him daily, and to wait for his timing. We learned that through this challenge, God was developing patience in me and perseverance in my son.
And my son continues to exhibit perseverance even today. He is in his first year of residency, with a PharmD studying pharmacogenomics. That is a testimony to God, not me, and I have seen God work in his life oftentimes in spite of me!
In fact, God provides in surprising ways because of our weaknesses.
2Cor. 12: 9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.
Through this challenging spelling journey, I needed to learn patience. God knew I needed it. My son needed to be equipped with perseverance. God knew he needed it.
God tells us His grace is sufficient for our trials. In second Corinthians, He took care of Paul’s problem not by removing it but by increasing the grace to endure it. It drew Paul closer to God and kept him from boasting…kept him humble. These weaknesses are to put God’s power on display.
So the blessings of patience being built in me and perseverance being built in my son were gained through challenge.
There have been many other challenges in my life, and I know there will be many more. But I pray that God works in me through those difficulties to continue to conform me to Him.
And I pray the same for you. As you face struggles and challenges as a parent or educator, draw close to the One who has the power to overcome them. He will use those situations for your benefit, maturing you and giving you the opportunity to encourage others that in our weakness He is strong!