One of the great ironies of life is that when we say that we would never do something, more often than not, we find ourselves doing that very thing. Years ago, I was in a health class learning about all the different kinds of vegetarians when I decided that I could understand most kinds of vegetarian diets, but there was no way in the world that I would become a vegan. A little bit later I also swore that I would never homeschool my kids because I didn’t think it would be a good fit for my personality. So, naturally, I’m now a homeschooling vegan.
Obviously, there is a very good reason that I’m now doing both of those things. A grain-free and sugar-free vegan diet is making a world of difference with my fibro and Jack was struggling terribly with his sensory issues in a school that it became clear isn’t equipped to deal with atypical students. And now, looking back, it is clear that there was what I wanted to do, what I can do, and what I need to do. While we don’t often want to do certain things, often times we actually can pull these off. Sometimes we actually need to.
I needed to. I won’t lie, giving up almost everything in my diet was hard, but I realized at one point as I was mulling over the decision that it is just food. At some point, holding onto something that isn’t good for me becomes idolatry. I know that most people can eat almost everything – I just can’t and it I am grasping it over choosing to do what I can to manage a chronic illness, I’m choosing my own pleasure (i.e. cheese) over who I am supposed to be as a wife, parent, and friend. Ultimately, there’s nothing that will glorify Christ in the pursuit of ourselves.
As I was wrestling with the fact that it means no more easy drive through runs when I’m out and I’m pretty much always bringing my own food with me from now on, it hit me that I was attached to the convenience that eating anything afforded me. But if that convenience comes at the price of being able to spend more time being with my family, working on important projects, and spending less time sick, it isn’t really convenient.
It reminded me of when Peter insisted that he would never deny Christ only to be told that he would do it three times that very night. When Jesus was arrested and Peter denied Him three times for fear of reprisals, the allure of the convenient escape won out. Better things, like following Christ, always has a cost.
So I wrestled with being ready to pay the cost.
I ate my words about never becoming a vegan and gave up sugar and grains too.
And then the sensory meltdowns started. At first, Jack just needed some extra OT to help keep him on track after school. And then it became a lot of OT. Four weeks into the school year it grew until I couldn’t do enough OT with him to help him. He was spending hours sobbing, literally climbing walls (did you know it is possible to climb using only a window mullion to get seven feet up in the air? I didn’t either), swinging, and banging into things. And it was never enough.
The spark in his eyes disappeared.
So after weeks of trying to communicate to the school that we had a massive problem, I decided enough was enough. The school had decided that unstructured time for recess wasn’t a part of the schedule so the problem wasn’t fixable anyway. And any other option seemed like it had to be better. At the very least, we decided that it couldn’t be worse.
I made hours of phone calls and applied for transfers and to waiting lists, before deciding that homeschool would be the best fit for Jack. I went from thinking that I wouldn’t be a good homeschool parent since I was already busy enough with writing, chronic illness, and other kids to thinking that maybe it was something I could pull off. Looking into Jack’s sobbing eyes one morning, I realized he needed me to do it for him.
If becoming a vegan had felt like a struggle, watching Jack struggle felt like my heart was ripped open. If you don’t know Jack personally, he is such an amazing kid and loves people so completely that I often feel convicted that I don’t love enough. While no kid ever deserves to struggle, it was particularly painful trying to mend his precious soul and pain is a profound teacher.
Whenever we say we won’t do something, I think we put ourselves in an untenable position. It assumes that we will always have control over our circumstances to the point that we don’t think our “would nevers” would ever need to be a reality. We lose the ability to understand people who make different choices and, coming from a background of foster care, I think we lose the ability to have sympathy for other people’s struggles. If we keep saying, “I would never,” we are essentially limiting our own effectiveness for Christ. At some point, I believe growth becomes less painful than staying stubbornly put if we only choose to surrender our stubbornness.
Peter’s denials are a reminder to us that no one, not even a disciple, is beyond making mistakes. I don’t think he ever forgot those moments because afterward, he continued to proclaim Christ until he was martyred for Christ. I think it is only in humility that we find out how to live in God’s strength. It is, however, a hard thing to learn and I’m right there too eating a big slice of vegan humble pie.
I would like to thank all my amazing homeschooling friends who have encouraged me during this transition with Jackson. I seriously couldn’t have done it without you all! We could still use prayer and support. A simple, tangible way to help, if you are inclined, is to help with curriculum. Our state leaves it up to the parents to purchase everything so I had an Usborne Book party because, in addition to adorable storybooks, they have wonderful educational books and learning tools for Jack. The rewards will all be used for school books for Jackson so to help, shop using this link: http://f6113.myubam.com/843157