I know you may be thinking one of two things - "uh, Sheri, yes you DO homeschool" or "For the love of ice cream, get off this topic!". Perhaps you are thinking both.
Yet, so many thoughts keep ruminating in my heart and mind over homeschooling. We've only been at it for 4.5 years and the more we home educate, the more qualified I become to say that I am so, SO imperfect. Homeschooling brings out the imperfections, the sin, the messiness of relationships but thankfully, with God's grace, training of our hearts (theirs and mine) occur. I almost feel that if the ugly side of our hearts don't bubble up after spending every single day together with our children, then perhaps you're doing homeschooling wrong?! Ha! Homeschooling, at its best, provides fertile ground for God's grace to shower us and for character to be shaped by Him, in the day to day.
After all, our hearts are bent toward sin. Our nature is set on default to choose what is self-centered. Self-soothing. Self. From our hearts come all thoughts and actions and despite the moment of acceptance of Christ, we don't become perfect, we become forgiven. Redeemed. Yet, our inclination is to self. To sin. To be messy and irresponsible with our life, our resources, our actions.
Because our hearts are prone to wander and gravitate toward the opposite of God, we don't homeschool to shelter our children. We don't homeschool thinking we will raise perfect beings. We don't homeschool to avoid the world's sin. For it exists within the four walls of our home. It exists within us. We can't hide from it. We can't segregate ourselves from it. For where we go, it goes. Our heart is attached.
Oh sure, it's easy to think "well, I'm not a murderer or I've never (insert some sin we think is REALLY bad here). But God draws no difference between sin. He sees no difference between murder and say, a lie. Sin is sin. It's ugly. It's harmful. It's messy. It opposes God. And it resides in us. The propensity to sin always follows us.
To think that homeschooling will prevent our children from encountering "Them" - those who are REALLY sinful, is a lie. We weren't called to raise our kids in a nice, tidy Christian bubble where all of their friends are pure and sinless (and hand chosen by me), where they never encounter a bad word or a disagreeable temperament, or someone hostile to our faith. Or, teaching that CONFLICTS with our faith. We were called to engage with the world, just like Jesus did. He didn't ignore the prostitutes, the tax collectors, the beggars and the poor. He didn't shy away from sin and neither should we. How best will our kids be able to defend their faith if they never come up against something (or someone) that opposes it??
Homeschooling has some definite advantages and disadvantages. And in my 4.5 short years doing it, it also divides. Not just "Us. vs. Them". Them being that sinful world that we must hide from. But it also divides within the homeschooling community. It is a tool that is used to divide the body of Christ. It is wielded to segregate out the "real" homeschoolers from the "fake" ones. You know, the ones who use a charter or "government" money. The ones who homeschool NOT because God called them to it and they are obeying a Biblical mandate but because they didn't like the school their kids were in or they just enjoyed the company of their children. THOSE fake ones. OR THOSE families who don't behave or believe the same way I do. Us vs. Them. OR THOSE families that don't think like I do. Us vs. Them. Division is Satan's best used tool amongst Christians.
For us, homeschooling doesn't give us an edge over other Christian families in that we'll produce holier, more pure children. It is not my family's salvation or even recipe to a perfect family. We don't homeschool thinking we have life or the Christian faith all figured out. We don't believe we can "DO" family better than others. We don't feel homeschooling gives us any advantage on how our children will turn out. Except.
Grace. By God's grace, we get more hours in our day together to practice forgiveness, extending grace and receiving His when we yell or get frustrated or hurt feelings or have a grumpy attitude. We get more hours in our day together to pray over our broken hearts - the ones that won't work well until Jesus returns. We get more hours in our day to humbly walk together with God and learn together - both on matters of the heart and academia. We get more hours in our day together to extend grace to the family that doesn't agree with our family choices or we don't agree with theirs. We get more hours in our day together to practice God's grace. For when they were in school for 6-7 hours each day, I just didn't have the same amount of time to work on these things as I do now.
We don't homeschool because I have it all together. Pfft. Hardly. We don't homeschool because we believe God demands this of every believer either. We homeschool, out of personal choice, to maximize our time together - in learning, forgiving, and loving.
There are many good educational choices out there and the one you choose needs to best suit your children and family. Homeschooling isn't the best choice out there. It isn't the perfect choice or the one that will guarantee results. It just works for us in the now.