Tuesday, June 27, 2017

School Daze (The Exciting Conclusion...)

Notice this starts with Fourth Truth. Truths One, Two, and Three are covered 

[insert humming and drumming fingers]

You're back? Great! Let's move on.

Fourth Truth: We found an option that would allow us to fix these problems. But God would have to show up in a big way.

The small, private, Christian school that both boys attended in the suburbs has a sister school on the other side of Atlanta. The principal there was the lower-elementary principal at their old school, so I reached out to her in desperation. I had spent countless hours researching options and many sleepless nights worrying over my boys' schooling. Their struggles were different, but they both had social and academic issues to address. 

She invited us to visit her school, and it felt like old home week. A familiar face greeted us. The small classes of students were well-behaved — even when the teacher walked out of the room. They were reading good books and discussing the French Revolution and — *gasp* — they talked about and loved Jesus openly. In some ways it felt like slipping into a favorite sweater after two years of scratchy sackcloth. I sat in her office and cried.

The boys visited and loved it. They begged to go. They hounded us every day to get their applications in. They were interviewed. They took placement tests. The only thing standing between them and admission is the parent interview, scheduled for today.

Oh, yes. And money.

Although it is half the cost of other private school options, we had no idea how to pay for it.

Just a few months ago, Herb and I sat across the table from one another and promised that we would not consider private school until high school. We had to have some financial breathing room to pay for the house we built which had depleted our savings and put us in a short-term financial bind.


In order to do both — pay for our house and pay for private school — God would have to show up. Big time.

Fifth Truth: God showed up. But not in the way we anticipated. Which kind of pissed me off.

Even though the private school felt so right ... it also felt just a little bit wrong.

It was a little bit to do with the three hours a day in the car to get them there and pick them up.
And leaving some very close friends behind. 
And starting over making new friends only to leave them again come high school.
And the (very reasonable) cost, which we still didn't know how to pay.

Joshua as Zazu in The Lion King, 2017
So, while pursuing admission to the private school, we also decided to enter into dialogue with the boys' current schools. We laid out plans for what we thought our boys needed to be academically successful and prepare them for the academic rigor of the high schools they would likely attend — public or private.

We were asking a lot of both schools to ensure that our boys will be academically challenged and prepared. A heckuva lot. And for a while it didn't look promising. It felt — and probably looked — like the demanding white folks telling the majority black school how to do their job.

But the nagging doubts kept coming back. (Which, I guess, is what makes them nagging. Duh.)

Were we taking the easy way out because it was there and available?

Were we giving up on schools we really did love, but that had disappointed us in some way?

Were we acting like like petulant high school sweethearts who had just had our first big fight?

We believe in our hearts that God had not brought us to Avoid to serve Him at the expense of the boys' educations. But what did doing the right thing for them look like?

I feel he is opening the door to private school and whispering, "Watch what I will do for you. I will provide." If we truly felt God would provide — and we did — would it be giving in to earthly financial fear not to walk through that door?

But I also feel God calling us to stay and bloom where He planted us. I still hear him whisper "Watch what I will do for you. I will provide." But does He mean in the context of meeting the boys' educational and emotional needs where they already were?
Last day of school party for 5th grade boys, 2017

Is there a right answer and a wrong answer, or are there two right answers?

It feels like he's smiling at me and saying, "I hear you, and I see you. I see your pain and your uncertainty and your tears. Regardless of what you choose, I've got you. And I've got your boys, too. It's your choice."

While I want so desperately for God to slam one door closed with His mighty right hand, He's not doing it. And it's really pissing me off.

And so the choice is up to us ... private or public ... comfy sweater or sackcloth ... and I believe we have chosen.

We have chosen to stay.

We have chosen to work it out with the schools — who are astounding us with their willingness to move mountains on our boys' behalf.

We have chosen to let the boys find their way socially — with a great deal of guidance. We are already seeing how God is mending relationships between the bullies and the bullied and turning their hearts back to their school communities.

We have chosen to honor our original pledge to each other not to put additional financial stress on our family.

We have chosen to trust God with our boys' minds and their hearts.

We have chosen to lay our Isaacs on the altar, trusting that God will provide not one, but two rams in the thicket.

Will it work out? We hope so. But yesterday, when we withdrew our applications from the lovely private school that part of my heart still yearns for, we made these observations:
This may completely blow up in our faces, and we may come back to you in December with our tails between our legs asking if there are spaces still available. But we will cross that bridge if and when we come to it.

In the meantime, know that we are thankful for you and for your school. And there is a part of my heart that is grieving that my boys will not get to go there. But I truly believe that this is where God wants us right now ... and we just have to give him time to show us why.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
Hebrews 10:23, ESV

Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Romans 8:24-25, ESV

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful writing Marybeth. I'll be really glad to have you and Joshua still be part of the community. I haven't been home for either time you did an invite, but I hope you'll do another sometime and keep me on your list. I'd love to come. I also hope I'll still get to hear Joshua play the violin once on a while:)