Friday, April 6, 2012

Eternal Significance?

I can’t tell you where the idea came from.  I have thought about that and I’m still drawing a blank.  Course now with chemo brain I also draw a blank when trying to figure out what you call that hot box with the dials that you bake stuff it.  Oven?  Oh yeah.

We had made the decision to home educate our son.  He had just finished third grade in public school and life was getting worse.  He had been tested and found to have a learning difficulty called “Central Auditory Processing Disorder.”  Not to forget to mention with a side of ADD.  That child perplexed me!  Most children balk about picking up their room.  They get “forgetful” about picking up their school work or doing homework.  But my son would forget he was putting on his shoes to go to the Movies!  To add to the difficulty, he was an auditory learner.  He learned best by verbal instruction.

We had moved to a small town community thinking a smaller school system would be easier on him.  It turned out to be worse.  He was put in a class of learning disabled students and a teacher who never had any business teaching anyone much less LD kids.  I had found her extremely lacking in compassion.  But my son would cry daily for me to not send him to that classroom.  Please let him stay home with me.  He would cry and tell me that “she yells at me.”

At the same time, I did feel that God was directing us to bring him home.  My desire was there but it meant a big decision. I was going to have to quit my job.  I had come to resent the system where we lived.  There were no textbooks.  Very little communication with me and resented the attitude they were better for my son than I.  So we made the decision, we would cut back.  I would quit my job and we would educate our son at home.  On the first day at home, he made a math error and began to visibly shake in front of me.  I told him it was okay, we all make mistakes just try it again.  He cried in earnest then.  “That’s when Mrs. *#(@)$% yelled at us the most.”  I remember staring at him and asked him to SHOW me how Mrs. (*&^%$ yelled at him.  He walked to my chair, stood over me and screamed at me.  “You are a moron!  How can you be so stupid!  Your parents should apologize for bringing such a stupid stupid boy home from the hospital.”  And the worst?  “You are a waste of human flesh!”  My heart was so broken.  Not only because someone spoke to him like this but because he told us and we didn’t understand.  I contacted the school and reported to them what my son had said.  They told me they “were aware of some problems with this teacher.  Unfortunately special Ed teachers were hard to come by and sometimes you dealt with who you had.”

The decision to downscale, cut back and live simple lives was confirmed.  We were a happy little family right then.  My parents were alive.  We owned our small little house.  My husband was working a day job after 9 years of evening/night shifts.  But it did not take long for the reality of one income to come home to roost.  It was tight.  I mean really tight. I mean like Lincoln screams it’s so tight.  

Sometimes, there was not much money left for food.  We had no debt other than our mortgage payment.  Our car was paid off.  No credit cards. But between mortgage and utlilities, my husband’s income was spent.  I cooked from scratch.  It was cheaper to buy real potatoes, butter, milk, flour, sugar or yeast…than to purchase packages and processed foods  We had a diet that rarely varied.  Our breakfast was oatmeal.  Our lunches were either PBJ or grilled cheese sandwiches.  Our dinners were fried potato and gravy, cornbread and beans, chicken and rice, home grown green beans and potatoes or homemade mac and cheese.  For meat we bought processed deer meat.

It was during this time I began to ask “Is this eternally significant?”  I discovered that very little is eternally significant.  Is this dress?  NO.  Are those drapes?  NO.   Is that air conditioner? Dishwasher? Dryer?  No, no and nope.  I told a friend I was finding that there was very little that was eternally significant….people and that was about it.  What we invested into people was significant but not how we decorated our homes, what car we drove, or which neighborhood we lived in.

I learned to take pleasure in very simple things.  Sitting on my porch watching fledgling bird families learn to fly.  The Cardinal broadcast playing over the radio and floating through open windows.  It was peaceful.  It was real.  I scaled down my closets because 1.  There were only 2 closets in the whole house.  And # 2.  It wasn’t eternally significant to have a week’s worth of clothing hanging around.   Investing in my son and his education was significant.  Being the best wife I knew to be was significant.  Keeping them fed and clothes was significant but not necessarily what was fed, how expensive or stylist the clothing might be.  I stopped buying and wearing makeup.  I stopped coloring my hair and getting it styled.  I developed home uniform and saved my “good clothes” for town.

It continued to go deeper into me.  Is a new comforter significant?  Is a kitchenaid significant (someone would argue YES!)  Even as my husband’s income grew and our mortgage payment got smaller, I stuck to this mentality of significance.  I would object to spend anything I considered frivolous or unnecessary.  In frustration, my husband told me that if I continued with such a strict idea of what was significant – eternal or otherwise, we would soon be living in caves and wearing bear skin to work.

It was overly dramatic.  But I got his point, possibly because I found myself thinking those things.  I had considered that we learned to live in a 900 sq. ft. home, maybe a 400 sq. ft. would allow us to do more for others.  I had become enslaved to a very worthy and Bibilical truth.  It was making us miserable though.  I was miserable.  I wanted to have a pretty comforter set.  I wanted to have a sofa.  I wanted something new to wear.  I knew there was a big difference between being eternally significant and where I was now at.  I was warring between my desires and what I thought God had directed me to.

One evening I was watching the birds and I suddenly realized I had Goldfinches.  There were brilliant blue Missouri bluebirds in the mulberry tree.  There were bright Cardinals playing in the rosebushes and the iridescent hummingbirds buzzed around my lilac bushes.  And I was struck with the thought…

Why did God create so many different kinds of birds?  Why so many kinds of butterfly?  I looked at the trees in my yard…maple, oak, sycamore, pine, cedar, and that Mulberry tree, all in my yard. And oh my, the explosion of grass and flowers I saw.  I had hyacinth, roses, tulips, lilies of various kind, daffodil, phlox both creeping and tall.  There was moss, and clover and grasses.  All different from each other.   Wouldn’t it have been more frugal, more direct to have one kind of bird, one tree, one flower?  Even more, one kind of each flower.  But I had a half dozen different kind of lily and multiple types of roses growing in my yard.

I pondered this for a while.  And I came to this decision.  God created this variety because it pleased him.  He could have chosen one color bird and created all birds to look like each other.  The same with trees, flowers, grasses, and animals.  Why have black, polar, brown or Panda bear?  One kind would have met the need.  In everything, God created variety and beauty.  I had to believe God did it this way because he wanted the variety.  It wasn’t eternally significant.  It was just enjoyable and beautiful.  And maybe, just maybe it delighted him to see their beauty?  It was okay for me to enjoy something just because it was beautiful.  Perhaps, just perhaps my journey to significance had gone a tad overboard? I realized that satan had crept in, taken a noble concept and perverted it into hurting my family.  One of the first things I did was buy a comforter bed set with roses all over it.  J

In time, I backed off the quest for eternal significance and replaced with frugalness.  I could have a sofa if I wasn’t demanding a pricey brand name one.  But the one I liked from the flea market was just as good and I was happier.  Someone else paid the high price and I got a sofa that wasn’t all cardboard and stuffing…obviously since it lasted 25 years.  I still judge my desire for things against the need and the cost.  Trust me. I went shopping this week.  It took me approximately 3 hours in one store.  I started with about a dozen capri and shirt sets, or combos.  One by one I whittled at it until I had 1 capri suitable for mowing in.  One that matched all my pink shirts hanging in my closet and one brand new top and capri set as I needed a new outfit to go into the rotation of “public” clothes.

The question of whether something I wanted was eternally significant helped us through a very tight financial time.  It helped me answer the questions of what was truly important.  It helped balance me.  Sometimes I hear new wives and moms talking about how they need to scale back and I smile.  I hope they too learn the balance before their families are living in caves, and sitting on floor pallets and wearing bear skins.  


  1. Great post! I find myself in the same spot sometimes. It can be challenging living on one income and still trying to provide/care for my family. We plan to educate at home too and just when I was starting to think maybe it wasn't such a good idea I read this post and it was like God said, are supposed to do this and you can do this. Thank you again for sharing from you heart, as you always do (:

    1. I'm excited to hear that you want to educate at home. Sometimes I question whether I taught him enough. I have never regretted that decision. He and I built a relationship that has become more precious as the years go by. I can't help but be thrilled when he talks about something he has been reading, because I taught him to love reading!

      I had shared with Emily how I did this Eternally Significant question and found so little was eternally significant. How I went overboard until "Mr. Rosey" feared I was going to sell the house and move the family into a cave. I wrestled with God over it as I felt that God had to want us to enjoy our lives but it seemed frivolous to have more than that cave. The realization that God created multiple species when he did not have to said to me that he WANTED us to enjoy pretty things and life. But it was balance I needed, not a hard and fast rule. Emily told me, it was a profound revelation and I've been thinking about it since. I decided perhaps. someone who was trying to live on a single income like we were, needs to know as well that God wants them to enjoy life in balance. Some things we need for our mental health - like my roses. Frugal is good. Caves not so much. :)

  2. This is wonderful! I'm so sorry your son had such a bad experience at school. What a blessing that you responded to the call to home school him!

    1. Thank you Beth. It was a blessing for all of us. It spoiled my hubs endlessly...he loved having me home when he was. When I worked in nursing, we crossed in the doorway. I did nights and he did days and our son did daycare until he was nearly 5 years old. I hate that memory of him crying asking me to not go to work but stay and play with him. I would give much to take back those years. But our home education years gave us back many blessings. He may struggle with many things, but he knows down to his bones that his parents love him and will sacrifice to support him. It was a blessing that goes around and around. I wish that every child was taught by those who love them most. But I understand it's not feasible for every family. But I believe that every family CAN school at home.

  3. Hey - found you through allume link-up. It's wonderful to see God's faithfulness played out in our lives. That's one of the great things about blogging! Thank you for sharing part of your journey with us!

  4. Hello Karina. Thank you for popping over. I enjoy meeting other people who visit.