Let me start out by saying I’m a public school graduate.
I also taught at public elementary schools for ten years before I started having babies and writing full-time.
I love our public schools.
They’re a broken vessel in so many ways but just like all broken things, there’s also a dignified beauty that can be seen only if you look closely and choose to see it.
When I told someone not too long ago why we were transferring our children from their former private, Christian school, they reacted in fear.
“What about the test scores of those public schools?” she inquired.
Do not even get me started on test scores, friends.
“What about the bad words your children will hear?” she added.
Every bad word my children have learned was introduced on the playground of that Christian school.
“What about the gay/lesbian agenda? Surely your children will end-up homosexual if they go to public school!”
I don’t share this to be ugly. She’s actually a very lovely person and I respect her immensely.
But who are we, as a collective group of believers in Christ, to believe the lie that God is only in our private and home-school communities?
Do we really believe that just because there’s a law separating church and state, God follows it?
I’ve got news for us – He doesn’t.
God is in the very hallways where He’s been condemned. He’s in the classrooms where He’s been banned.
He’s in the locker rooms where kids are notoriously bullied.
He’s in cafeterias where those who always feel alone feel the loneliest.
And He’s in staff meetings with administrators and teachers who truly care about these children but are buried under a sea of testing mandates and red tape.
I see Jesus everywhere I look when I walk the halls of the schools where my children will be starting tomorrow.
Someone said to me the other day that sending our children to public school will be releasing three lights into a world of non-believers.
I’m sure for some, that will be true.
But I don’t think for one second my children will be the only lights. There will be others who will be lights to them.
The child who can’t afford new shoes and shows up each day with disintegrated soles but offers my child a friendly smile will teach him compassion.
The teacher who encourages my girl to keep going when math gets hard (and no, I’m not gender stereotyping. She struggles in math.) will teach her perseverance along with the sweet reward of completion.
The cafeteria workers who speak encouragement through the lunch lines. The bus drivers who have the gift of being one of the first adults to greet their students each day. The front-office workers who notice when heads are hanging low.
The teachers who never stop because they love my children almost as much as I do.
Yeah. Those are the lights, friends.
Let us not become so self-righteous that we think we’re the only lights. God doesn’t need us. He wants us – but He doesn’t need us to do anything for Him. He’s got it.
What He needs is for us to humble ourselves enough so we might learn something from a non-believer. He needs us to open our hearts and refuse to judge so relationships can be formed and we can put some skin on the scriptures.
He needs us to love. And He needs us to not be so proud that we can’t be loved in return.
Be the light. But let’s allow others to be the light for us, too.
We begin a new chapter tomorrow and we’re filled with nervous excitement. After more than a year of committed prayer, Jason and I have decided to send our children to public school and I’m not afraid. When we listen and obey, there will always be a reward sometime, somewhere. This doesn’t mean the path will be free of twists and turns – it just means that there is a reason God has led us to this decision.
And like all decisions, we’ve made the one that’s right for our family and in alignment with where God is calling us. Not everyone is called to home school. Not everyone is called to private school. Not everyone is called to public school.
There is no debate.
Light can never be contained to just one area.
So no matter where your schooling choices are taking your family this year, may it be filled with light – given and received.