A Little Lesson in Overcoming Doubt

A Little Lesson in Overcoming Doubt

I want to begin by saying that most of my experience at my very first homeschool conference was positive, uplifting and wonderful! But like I said in my Learning Notes post, I did experience some feelings of information-overload and of being overwhelmed.

Needless to say, it was a packed weekend. So many presentations, so many notes to take, so many ideas to hear, so many books to peruse.

It was all good. Truly.
But I think that goodness is partially what caused me to feel overwhelmed. There are more options than one person could ever do! And so to pick and choose one thing over another is kind of difficult (especially when one is just starting out).
In a talk on beginning homeschooling, the presenter gave a lot of good advice, but one key thing that she said was don’t get paralyzed by analyzing all of the programs you could do with your children.
And even in one of his talks, Mr. Andrew Pudewa of the Institute for Excellence in Writing said that you can’t do all the good things out there, so don’t worry about covering all the bases.
Good advice, indeed! But good advice is not always easy to practice.

I entered the conference thinking I had a curriculum plan for next fall. I made the decision to keep things simple as we begin this journey. I selected a curriculum, and I was very much at peace with it. I knew I couldn’t handle putting together my own curriculum this year, so I decided not to put that pressure on myself. I shared my plan with my husband, and he agreed that it was a good place to start.
I knew that I wanted to look at a few specific things at the conference, just so that I could see them in person. But really, I was good-to-go.

But seeing all of the other options and hearing about the additional great ideas, well, my boat was a bit rocked, I guess. And I left the conference not being so sure of my initial plan.
Doubt had crept into my mind. And I started worrying about what I should do.
Doubt. It is an ugly thing, isn’t it?
But the Lord, in His goodness, knew what I was feeling, and He helped me along by giving me a bit of encouragement: Karen Edmisten’s post on the very topic of doubt.
She reminded me that doubt is not permanent. And that we shouldn’t make any major decisions in times of doubt. In her own words, “The best response I’ve found is to hang on tight.”
I instantly started feeling better after reading Karen’s words. And since reading it, I decided to just sit with everything, surrendering all of it to God and asking Him to guide us to what He wants for our family. What would be best for His children? What would be best for me?

And guess what! I am feeling less doubtful and more peaceful! I have re-looked at my initial plan, and I still like it! Even after learning about all of the other things I could do. Yes, I discovered a few more things that I really like, and some of them will fit next year, and some of them may have to wait. I am OK with that.
It hasn’t been totally easy for me to just “be still” with all of this information. I am excited! I want to figure out all of the details of what we’ll be doing! I want to start organizing and planning!
But there really is no hurry. I can relax and enjoy some summer fun, too. And continue to be patient about it all unfolding, because it will. In time.
And in that time, He will continue to make His plan known. One way or another.
“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.”
—St. Francis de Sales
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7 thoughts on “A Little Lesson in Overcoming Doubt

  1. Hi, Sarah! What a beautiful post, and thanks for your kind words. Believe me, the doubts will creep in again during your homeschooling journey, so keep hanging on tight and keep asking Him to guide you. He will! 🙂

    God bless!

  2. When in doubt, don't.

    Or, in the words of my beloved St. Ignatius of Loyala, (whom I can't WAIT to meet one day in heaven), (not to be presumptuous or anything)…

    "In times of desolation, never make a change."

    Sarah, I have spent days belaboring a curriculum choice–WEEKS, even–and then, when I finally got it, it sat on the shelf after two or three weeks.

    Are you scandalized? 🙂

    There is no perfect way to homeschool; no perfect curriculum. A good Math program, tons of reading aloud, some memory work if you get around to it and some phonics and spelling to round things out…

    The rest is just frosting.

    [Oh! And religion too!]

    [But I KNOW you and you got that one covered. 🙂 ]

  3. This is a wonderful and real post, Sarah. You haven't even had your first day of school and you have already identified one of the biggest enemies of the homeschooling mother. 🙂 Doubt leads to fear and fear leads to sleepless nights, anxiety, and spiritual strain. Homeschooling is hard work, no doubt, but it should not be stressful like that. I fight this all the time and can tell you a couple of things that have helped…

    First, if you haven't read two books written by Suzie Andres, I recommend them. The first is "Homeschooling with Gentleness" and the second is "A Little Way of Homeschooling". She is an unschooler. I am not (not mostly anyway). But reading about her approach and those of others like her reminds me that the point of home education is not to stuff our kids' head with knowledge, but to lead them to discovery. The other reminder that is so important is to focus on doing the little things with great love instead of wowing the world with our homeschooling awesomeness (my words).

    Second, doubt creeps in when we forget to trust God. Yes, you will fail yourself and your kids many times over the years. You will make mistakes and feel discouraged. It is hard for a mother to face but it is reality. I recommend writing down a mission statement; exactly why you are homeschooling. You will be able to bring it out in those future times of doubt and remember that it's not about you and your failures. It's about living a life that is faithful to God's will for your vocation. Perfection? No. Messy? Often. It's okay.

    Doubt yourself if you will. And then lay it all at the foot of the Cross. You can't do it. But He can. It's a beautiful thing!

    Incidentally, I always over buy at the start of the year because it all looks so good on paper. Wonderful stuff out there! By the end of the year, we are usually using half of what I buy (don't tell anyone) and doing just fine academically.

  4. It is very difficult to have faith in your choices when there are so many options out there. I think enthusiasm matters more than which workbooks you use.

  5. This is a great post! And, great advice in not making decision when you are in doubt.

    BTW, is that YOUR handwriting on the notepad?? It's beautiful and so neat.

  6. dearest sarah,
    doubt and insecurity will most likely plague you now again thru the years as you homeschool. but you are such a faithful woman, and as margaret said, do nothing. wait. pray. and the PEACE that HE is will come to you. never doubt that!

    you will do a rockin' awesome job homeschooling…i don't doubt it!!

    surrounding your children with your love, the faith, good books and PEONIES!!! why it doesn't get much better than that!!
    (oh, yes, and math and phonics too!)
    can't wait to talk to you again.

    i so enjoyed your email this morning!!

    love to you, sister in Christ.

  7. Looks like you are on the right path . . . . Congratulations!!!

    I hang up my home school hat next year. Christian will be in 8th grade (and I doubt my ability to satisfy high school age, so they attend the local school, where after next year, Christian will join his older sister). Connor graduates this year. Time flies – so just enjoy it and fill that time up with LOVE.

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