The Courage to Be You

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I envision a conversation I may have in the future with each of my kids. You know the one. “If your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do that, too?”

It’s coming. It might be sooner than later. Who knows what situation will bring the discussion on. Small or big. But the point of the discussion will be, do you have the courage to not do something even if everyone else is doing it?

And then I wonder? Am I modeling that same courage?

I love being in the middle of the crowd. Oh, to be sure, I’m not going to pick a crowd that is going to jump off cliffs or anything. In fact, I feel safest in a good crowd. But once I find a good crowd, I’m happy to stay firmly nestled in the middle. I don’t like making waves. I don’t like being different.

If you thought peer pressure was reserved for middle and high school, think again. Mommy pressure abounds. And it is rampant even (maybe more?) in the church. This can be especially difficult because there is often a spiritual tag added to it.

Do you have the courage to be you? The way God made you?

The courage to school your children differently than the majority of your friends.

The courage to hold to the parenting philosophy you believe is right and best for your family even if it is completely different from your best friend’s.

The courage to enroll your kids in the activities that fit them best and that meet your family’s values regardless of what your friend’s kids are involved in.

The courage to have and hold to your family values.

The courage to say ‘no’ to busy and ‘yes’ to family.

The courage to pursue your own family’s creative interests.

The courage to accept change.

The courage to spend your money on what you value, not what your friends value.

The courage to be gracious about people’s differing opinions even while holding firmly to your own.

The courage to admit that you might not handle the same busy schedule that others seem to do fine with.

The courage to keep out of the cultural rat race of materialism.

The courage to create and shape your family life in a unique way.

The courage to be your own person.

The courage to walk your own path. The path God has laid out for you.

It’s not about being different for the sake of being different. It’s about thinking about your values. Discerning what is good and right and best for your family. Seeking wisdom from God. And then having the courage to do it.

If we aren’t careful, it is easy to live and parent in a certain way simply because there is an understood norm in our particular community.

If we fail to articulate our own family’s values, we will find ourselves simply going with the crowd. And even if it is a good crowd (or a church crowd), it is not a healthy way to live.

As we move in and out of crowds or churches, our lives and parenting will fluctuate along with it, leaving our children confused at best.

Do you know what you value? Are you willing to do what is truly best for your family, even if it makes you stand out in your community? Do you have that kind of courage?

Let’s model a courageous spirit for our children.

Let’s have the courage to walk the individual path God has given us, however unique it might be.

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Comments

  1. It’s funny how motherhood makes you realize just how different you are from others. Starting with whether or not to do a baby’s room, I realized that what I value is often totally different from even those closest to me. But I don’t mind sitting on my own island when it’s something that really matters.

    • Johanna says:

      I agree! I have found that some people that I am otherwise very similar, we are completely different in our parenting.

  2. Leigh Ann says:

    I was thinking about this just the other day. Someone was describing their Saturday to me filled with parties and soccer games and such. I was saying in my head, “I must be a hermit because I just want to be with my family taking it slow. ”

    But I also know how you feel about the whole schooling and parenting thing. We are headed down a different path from the norm, a la Holt and Gatto influence, because of the unique makeup of our family. It is a tad intimidating when I look at everyone else around me, but I am realizing that God is pushing us this way. I can’t argue with that. :-)

    • Johanna says:

      I’m with you on wanting to be with family! I LOVE nothing more than having a slow day at home with nothing to do!

      And…I think we might be kindred spirits as to the schooling. And, yes, it is intimidating! :) But I thought your kids were in school?

  3. I.love.this.post Johanna! Especially this: “The courage to admit that you might not handle the same busy schedule that others seem to do fine with.” Um, yeah, that’s totally the one I struggle with! I have no problems whatsoever with being different than the status quo, but sometimes when that difference isn’t of your own choosing, it can cause guilt. And that’s when the courage comes in.

  4. Becky says:

    I needed this today! Thank you.

  5. Elly says:

    Thanks Johanna! The fact that I’m homeschooling my kids raises many eyebrows where we live – in Spain it’s simply NOT done. No support, no homeschooling groups, etc. At least not as in the US. Depending on where you live in Spain the authorities can even frown upon it, but what I find myself with more is the blank stare and “you’re doing school at home??? Whatever FOR????” It can be uncomfortable at times when you’re stuttering out your explanation – especially when you try to say it in a way that doesn’t imply that they, the other parents, are doing it the wrong way. So thank you for this great post. I know it covers many more areas than just the way we school our kids or what education philosophy we prefer, but this area is pretty much what I need encourageing in right now :)

    • Johanna says:

      I can imagine that it is hard. Homeschooling has become such a norm here in the US in both Christian and non-Christian circles that it doesn’t seem as difficult. I know, though, that other places it’s not like that so I totally understand that it is hard to be so different! Be courageous, my friend!

  6. Leigh Ann says:

    Anne Marie went to BJ for two years, but we brought her home this year. She is having a hard time separating learning from text books and workbook pages. School also brought her a lot of anxiety. I think that’s where her acid reflux came from.
    Daniel is currently in Einstein. Last year it was a blessing for him. It really helped him blossom verbally and with social skills which he needed at the time. This year he is losing his sparkle and learning is becoming a drudge. I don’t want that to happen. So we are strongly considering taking him out soon. I want him to receive some computer graphics mentoring which he was expressed interest. He is gifted artistically so we want to build on that instead of discouraging him by insisting he excel at history. We will read history and leave it at that unless he gets really interested in it.

    I am just convinced that we have to craft an individual experience as much as we can so they can be built up.

    • Johanna says:

      “I am just convinced that we have to craft an individual experience as much as we can so they can be built up.” — love that!

      And as to history, I think the best way to learn is through stories anyway. “living books” as Charlotte Mason would say :-)

  7. Laura Bray says:

    Such true words. I live in an area that I like to refer as “Stepford” . Kidding. I think no matter where you live you often feel that it takes great courage to be different and for some reason, the way we raise our children is a topic that can really divide people. If we all recognized that we are each on our own courageous journey to raise wonderful human beings, I think the world would be a different place.

    • Johanna says:

      It does seem that even similar people and friends can really find that they have completely different parenting styles. Unfortunately, it tends to be what we hold to most passionately which can lead to division.
      “we are each on our own courageous journey to raise wonderful human beings” — loved that phrase!

  8. Leigh Ann says:

    I read a story about a mom who just read aloud good books to her son. He is now doing very well as a biology major. So the living books are great.

  9. Renita says:

    I live in a country where compromises are constantly made – with your career, marriage, raising children, work and so many other things. You post really inspired me and now I seek to draw courage to chart my path and not confine to the rules. I like the perspective – don’t be different for the sake of being different – but fall in line with God’s plans for your life.

    God bless.

    • Johanna says:

      So glad it was encouraging, Renita. I think it is always difficult to go against the cultural norm, but there are so many rewards when it is the right way for us.

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