Friday, May 29, 2009

Staying Mentally Strong: #8 Find Encouragers

This may seem like a contradiction of rule #4 (Be Selective) but it isn't.

There is advice you should follow. It's the advice that works well for you and for your family. It's the advice that touches your heart and makes you feel more alive. It's the advice that changes your world. This advice will come to you in the context of a warm, respectful relationship with others who are experienced with their own families and understand your context or who are gifted teachers.

Homeschooling is a very unique setting with its own peculiar demands, stresses, and needs. It's very difficult for anyone who has not actually homeschoooled to advise you successfully about how to do it. This is not a statement on their general wisdom or ability to help -- just an acknowledgement that the most meaningful advice will typically come from those who have walked on the same path, or very occasionally, from teachers who understand learning deeply and have expertise in a particular subject. In any other profession, you would expect the same: the advice that would be the most helpful for you would generally come from those within your industry or profession, or from someone who specializes in an area where they have a very high degree of insight and knowledge.

How will you know that the advice is in this special category of genuine helpfulness? Trust me. You will know. There are clear signs. You will sense a shift in your understanding, your perspective, or your resolve to change. You will feel uplifted by it. Your heart will be touched. You will feel strengthened. It will be just the thing you needed. You will add another piece to the puzzle of how to make all this work. You will want to listen more. The response of your family will be very positive, at times even amazing, to this person's suggestions. You will find that this person has the ability to inspire you to grow and make helpful suggestions, while at the same time leaving you free to decide for yourself and making you feel smarter and more competent.

There are a handful of individuals who have been this way for me. My soul seemed to be shaped so that their words slipped into the secret places and expanded into clear understanding. I needed what they had to tell me so badly, it was as though their voices were the voices of angels. Interestingly, they did not offer me unsolicited advice. I had to ask for it. But after I did, their warmth and respect for me and their understanding of my dilemma enfolded me in a kind of embrace. I was nourished by their friendship and their wisdom. Most of these individuals lived some distance from me. Phone chats, email, even books they wrote served me well. I knew that they were special because what they shared with me was just right. It fit me and my family perfectly. And while we didn't agree on absolutely everything, which is the sign of a healthy and honest relationship, we did share a similar perspective on the essential issues.

I call these special individuals encouragers, for that was the most powerful and forceful effect of what they did for me. They helped me believe, because they believed in me. They showed me that I can do this, that my longings are not a fairy tale. They showed me how it might be done.

Find your encouragers. When their words soak into your soul, recognize the role they have. Make note of what they said so that you don't forget. Nourish the relationship. Write them a letter. Send them a gift. Do something for them. Have enough humility to go to them again and ask for their input. Take time to ponder and apply what they have shared with you. This will make you much stronger and sturdier, and much wiser, over time.

1 comment:

  1. This ... "My soul seemed to be shaped so that their words slipped into the secret places and expanded into clear understanding" ... I have known. And when it so, inspiration quenches my thirst.

    And I am revived.

    Thank you for sharing.



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