The "Grace" of Digital Learning

Guest post by Rachel Ulrich

If you had told me before COVID-19 that I would write a blog post with that title, I would have punched you in the face. I almost named it, "The Crucible of Homeschool." Or at least, "Sanctification via School Closures."

I am an introverted, task-oriented person, so I have always intuited that homeschool would not be a good fit for me. And for my very extroverted daughter, it would also not be a good fit -- for the opposite reason. While I'm thinking, "There are ALWAYS people here!", she would be thinking, "WHERE are all the PEOPLE?!" I foresaw that it would require all of my social energy, leaving none for my sweet husband or anyone else outside our home. And furthermore, we have a warm public school that deeply cares for its students and welcomes them into its loving environment.

I'd like to say that the stay-at-home order has proved me wrong; that being forced to homeschool for a period of time has shown me that I was just being pessimistic or anxious. Nope. It is the crucible and the sanctifier I imagined it to be. I have to take a nap almost every afternoon to recover, [try to] kick my kids outside to play until dinner, and still I find a waning energy to keep in touch with friends. By the end of the day, I'm staring blankly at Paul, silently pleading for him not to talk to me...

But there is an unexpected grace within this season. My deepest desire in life is purpose. Without a defined sense of purpose in my life, I become depressed and hopeless. I can live without a lot of things, but purpose is not one of them. So when everything shut down, and I was furloughed from the job I loved and felt called to (as a part-time physical therapist), I had to look elsewhere for purpose. That's when the grace of homeschool surprised me: If I were jobless AND childless, what would I be living for right now?

You may be in that situation, and I can identify with the desperation you may feel as you wonder WHAT THE HECK AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH ALL MY TIME?!? Of course, we have the ever open invitation to commune with the Lord, and that is certainly a takeaway from all this slowing down. But we were designed for that communion to spill over into the love and service of our neighbor, which is especially tricky in a season of social distancing.

So enter homeschool and its unexpected grace of purpose. While I never would have seen my need for it during this time, God did. I never would have chosen it, but I am grateful for it. While it is (of course!) a catalyst for utter dependence on God, it is providing a lifeline of purpose in these days of isolation. And as my wise mother pointed out, "Kids are going to have fond memories of this time, because they're getting so much extra time with their parents." So take heart! Our God is at work, despite our reluctance.

And did I mention I got to teach Lauren how to read? :)

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