Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Is It Worth It All?

Many years ago dh* and I mastered a pithy formula for those occasions when someone suddenly says, “Come up and give us a ten-minute summary of your mission work.”  We were always prepared to give a spontaneous presentation broken down into various 2-minute story segments.

 Usually my husband would start by presenting the concise nuts-and-bolts module – who were are and what we do.  Then I would give a thank-you module, followed by a prayer module or a miracle module.  Oh, how people love to hear the amazing way God works on the field! 

Toward the end of our rehearsed/impromptu talk (how's that for an oxymoron?), one of us would give a slightly longer module we call the is-it-worth-it-all module.

In that portion of our presentation, we would talk about some particular challenge we had faced or some enormous trial we had endured, and we'd conclude with a story of what God has done in our hearts and in the lives of the people we serve, causing us to marvel and say, “In spite of everything, it has certainly been worth whatever small sacrifices we have made.”

This past week I’ve been thinking about the “Is it worth it all?” part, and I still come to the indisputable conclusion that, of course, it’s been worth it to live and raise a family on the mission field.  No regrets.  Well, not many.  Okay, I’m not altogether sure, but I think it’s worth it for me, but not so sure if the children would agree.

My one area of insecurity is home schooling.  I know without a doubt that God gave me the grace and desire to teach my kids at home.  In 1990 it was a no-brainer.  I had to teach my own kids because we lived in remote locations without any other educational options. 

In the spring I will boast (by God’s grace) of having five home school graduates.  That leaves just two kids at home.  Thankfully my son is attending high school in the city full-time, leaving me more time and energy to focus on my soon-to-be 14-year-old.  Unfortunately, the MK school does not have the needed support to handle her language disability/ Apraxia.

Without divulging details, let me just acknowledge that I am weary.  It’s one thing to home school by choice, and a whole 'nuther thing to home school by necessity.  I know in my head that “God’s grace is sufficient” for each day and each challenge, but in reality, it sure doesn’t feel like it some days.  Teaching has become a chore, and I don’t feel very creative, loving, or grace-filled like before.

I’m asking myself hard questions like “Is it worth it?” - but I’m not coming up with any automatic response like “Of course it is!”  I’m just not convinced.  Maybe this youngest daughter would have fared better in the U.S. under capable teachers more equipped to instruct her.  I don’t know.   

This seems to be the road God has taken us, but I’m pretty intimidated approaching four years of high school when I don’t think I’m doing such a stellar job any more.  This sounds terrible, but (whispered) I'm secretly ready to move on to ministries outside the home where I don't feel so inadequate all the time.

How about you?  Do you have an instant affirmative answer to the “Is it worth it all” question?  Any areas of insecurity you’d change if you could?  Are you ever ready to jump ahead to the next season of life?  

IRL* Maybe we all need to be infused with power and hope again, especially when the cost seems high, and we're not sure it's worth the struggle.



  1. There have been times where I wasn't sure it was worth it all until I was up there at the front of the church doing an "Is It Worth It All" module. And during this last furlough I couldn't even get up in front because I felt like I'd be lying to say "it was worth it all."

    I'm struggling with depression right now. After seeking the help of a counselor it all seems to boil down to a life without roots--beginning long before I had a choice in the matter. I tend to live day to day just surviving. Why would I want to put down roots when they'll just get ripped up again?

    I long to be content with and thrive in the life God has given me. I don't really want to leave the work we're involved with, but I'm able to cope less and less. My biggest insecurity is how my health and emotional needs are affecting my family and children.

    My husband and I are considering another "season of life" but I'm torn. If this is the life God called us to, why does it seem like this need is not being met?

    1. I'm praying others will offer wise counsel to you. Surely others have walked through this same dark tunnel of depression. You cannot possibly be the only one. It sounds like Satan is all over this scenario. I'm praying for you, Missy, that the fog lifts and you are able to see clearly what really is, and that you will be able to declare that it's been worth the struggle for the results to God's kingdom.

  2. Is it really worth it all? We've had a tough road the past few years with support struggles, family issues, and visa problems. I've really struggled through all of it. I feel confident of God's provision. Though it is hard to put my feelings into words, it's kind of like I'm in a tunnel, with all these issues surrounding me, but I also see God's light shining in the tunnel.

    Jamie Jo, it sounds like we might have taken the same partner-raising seminar. Those modules you mentioned sound very familiar! :)

    1. I like the picture of the tunnel. I mean, I hate being in a tunnel, but the word picture is helpful. Glad you can see God's light in the midst of your difficulties.

      Those modules have been long forgotten until I started writing this. Funny how we all use similar methods. I was wondering if anyone would recognize this one.

  3. Just wanted to say that I'm praying for you. I can empathize with how hard the task before you is... and the fatigue that comes from feeling like you've been thrown in water way, way over your head.

    As the Lord brings you to mind, I'll pray God reveals to you at least one success, each day...

    Blessings, Jamie Jo.

    1. Oh how I do appreciate the prayers! This week seemed to go better than other weeks, school-wise. Thanks!

  4. I can so relate to what you're saying, Jamie Jo. I don't have a child with apraxia, but I have a child who is melancholy by nature, and sometimes it seems to me that this cross-cultural life we're living: home school, being the "foreigner" always, is very hard on her.

    I realize that in America, she'd have other challenges, but when I ask myself, "Is it worth it?", what's hardest for me is to wonder about the price my kids pay. They're blessed to be here, but it's a challenge too, and one they didn't choose. I hope they don't one day resent that they did not have a "normal" childhood (whatever that is.)

    I'm praying for you today. I can also understand feeling WEARY.

    1. I have a melancholy one, too, Olive, and yes, that one is hard to parent without guilt, too.

      Maybe more than anything we need to direct our kids to the sovereignty of God, Who ultimately is the One who chose when and where they would be born and what parents would make decisions for their lives. Hmmm.

      May your weariness pass.

  5. This is the question of each day for me. I have a 17 yo, 15 and 12. I feel my homeschooling isn't enough and wonder if they will "make" it in life. We have few options in the little town where we live and not enough money to make other choices. I just keep praying and hoping that my puny efforts will be rewarded and somehow miraculously multiplied!

    1. Michele, I'm sure your efforts will be multiplied. I know that my four who went from home school to college have all done very well in spite of the limitations of home schooling in a big family. Three have graduated from college and one will finish in the spring. That alone should encourage me, too, I suppose.

  6. Oh ladies!

    I have been praying for each of you today! I wish I could sit down with each one of you over a cup of coffee and then pray with and for you in person. God has placed you and others who serve alongside of you on my heart SO much!

    Is 26:3-4

    1. Good Word for today, Karen. Thanks. Keep our minds on Him where we will find peace. Oh, that cup of coffee and prayer time sounds soothing and restorative. Let's all have a cuppa something and pray for each other, shall we? You are very sweet.

      The rest of you, please do let me know when you have a break-through and the "Is it worth it?" question results in a resounding YES.

  7. I'm out the other side now - 11 years home schooling in isolation, 11 years with my high school-aged kids away at an international boarding school.....and oh how I miss it. Contrary one, who fought God for years, asking "Where is my identity; am I only the mother of my kids?; I'm hopeless at this, why not use my gifts?". But then, finally free to take up those ministries outside the home, I struggled again, grieving for the very things I'd complained about, forging a new identity, finding a new calling.

    In each season, each time, I come back to Peter. When Jesus asked the disciples, "You don't want to leave me too, do you", he was barely holding on, and could only reply, "Where would we go? You have the words of eternal life". Often that's all I can manage - knowing that God has called me, and unquestionably, each member of our family, to this, and whether I feel it's worth it or not, I don't have a choice. I have to trust Him, to know that He loves each of my kids (and me) more than I can imagine, and is faithful.

    And I look at Peter too, 20 years on, no longer just holding on, but rejoicing:
    1Pe 1:6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials,
    1Pe 1:7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
    1Pe 1:8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.

    He who is faithful has called me, and you, and each of our children, and He WILL bring it to pass.
    Jenni (PNG)

  8. Wow! I feel like you opened my head and heart and saw everything I am going through right now. After years of homeschooling (by necessity), I also am weary and ready to see the light at the end of the tunnel. However, God is faithful and I have to be daily reminded that it is not all about me and how I feel.


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