Here are the honest musings of a young mother from Canada who has recently attended Living Education Lessons – Season 6 – Grace for Grace – Lessons for CM Leaders and Teachers. Annie Gaignard shares some lessons for all Charlotte Mason teachers and parents. She has a website that strives to bring Charlotte to francophones the world over – Un Festin D’idees (IG – @unfestindidees.) If her reflections are lessons you would like to experience, think about joining our intimate classes. Sign up to be notified of registration here!
So many different topics have been addressed this session, so many new ideas to think about in many areas: personal, spiritual, relational and also in relation to leadership. The Bible readings, the meditations, the additional articles, the lessons and conference calls have been so rich in content.
I was also blessed by the atmosphere of the meetings, the prayers and what everyone has shared really helped to deepen my reflections. And although I would prefer hand-holding and someone to tell me exactly what I should be doing or thinking, I can see how much better it is to be given the occasion to experiment “ to come and see” and to think for myself rather than being told and explained everything. We moms are persons too.
But, if there is one thing I want to remember and to put into practice, it is that I need simplicity, humility and courage. These 3 qualities are so interrelated that they are difficult to dissociate.
Simplicity is to keep my eyes on Christ and to be sincere and peace-filled. It is the inward morality that affects my outward actions. Humility is not to think less about myself, but not to think about myself at all. It is to keep my focus on the work or the person in front of me. Courage is the habit not to be distracted by anything but to keep my eyes on Jesus and to do what I know to be right even when it is not easy or convenient.
Pondering on those definitions, I had to admit that I am not so simple, that I do not have that one eye that looks to Christ and does not worry about the rest. I am so easily worried, anxious, paralyzed by fear, haunted by constant questioning or feeling overwhelmed by all I should or could be doing. I also care far too much about what others think, especially my children for some twisted reasons. Charlotte says that “Self-occupation, whether in the form of self-depreciation or self-exaltation, is giving self the place of preference which is due to Another.” It is idolatry! Ouch!
These flaws have repercussions on my relationships, on my role as a mother and teacher and also on my endeavor to make Mason known to Francophones. My leadership, whether with my children or in my other projects, depends so much on my relationship with God, not on my abilities or anything else under the sun. My lack of simplicity might be the biggest obstacle to the success of everything I undertake.
But there is hope. To me, the most life-giving moment of this class was to realize that courage is a habit, I can become courageous and probably also simple and humble by changing how I do certain things. At first it is going to be hard and I will have to be constantly watchful, but with time it will become my default mode. I need to work on things like:
–Changing my thoughts. I need to fix my thoughts upon that which I desire to know or to do, and turn away my thoughts from that which I should avoid and this is, according to Mason, the secret to willing. She also says that “He himself will enable us to put Him in that first place in our thoughts which belongs to Him and to leave off troubling about ourselves.” I must bring the will; Christ will give me the power.
-Meditating on the Word, constantly worshiping and thinking the thoughts of God
–Staying focused on the work in front of me. Charlotte says that “The answer is to be found, not in anxious inquiries into our motives and feelings, but in out-shining of the light in simple, humble, pleasant doing of that duty which comes next.”
-Listening to the Holy Spirit and be ready to follow. When I become stressed because I don’t know what is the will of God and about what I should be doing or not doing. I will ask faithfully and keep silence in my heart, waiting for the reply of the Lord instead of rushing into one kind of good work or another. Remembering that even when I know not the way I am going, I well know my Guide.
-Remember that I am limited to three educational instruments–the atmosphere of environment, the discipline of habit, and the presentation of living ideas. This is true especially with my children, but I think this principle can apply to anyone God calls me to have an influence on.
When I feel discouraged, I need to remind myself that I am co-workers with the Highest. That everything does not lie on my shoulders. But I also need to remember that it is my duty to shine His light, but not by efforts to shine but by keeping in the Light, shining as a planet shines by the light of the sun.
Worrying will not change anything, neither will it transform me into the Holy Spirit, but it can burn me out and make me unable to do my part of the job. The truth is that His yoke is easy and his burden light.
I love how Charlotte describes maturity: “This sense of simple, natural, inevitable dependence that comes in later life, together with that humility which is no longer shocked at fall or failure because it has ceased to expect anything good of self and waits upon Christ for every goodness and every grace.” I think we could say that being mature is a synonym with being humble, simple and courageous. I will never get there but I can, with His help, learn not to be shocked at my shortcomings, to quickly get back on my feet and to be more and more useful for His work.
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