“My kids are teaching me that faith should come out naturally in all we do, with no apologies.”
I do admit that when it was time for my first-born to go to school, I really wanted her to attend a private Christian school so she would be “safe.” I spent a lot of time praying for a miracle—that God would provide the funds and open the doors so that she could put on a uniform and get a good Christian education. But the doors never opened and the funds never arrived because God had better miracles in store. Miracles. Plural.
Miracle #1: More Faith
It is a leap of faith to put my kids in public school. I pray desperate prayers every day as I drop them off. Protect them. Keep them. Guard their hearts and minds. I think it must be part of God's strategy to keep me close to Him and to keep me praying.
Miracle #2: More Trust
I had faith that God could keep my kids safe in a public school. When I actually put my kids in public school, I had to trust that He would. Faith needs action. Releasing my kids into the public school world was a tangible expression that I not only had faith in God, but I also trusted God.
Miracle #3: Greater call to serve.
We aren’t just called to serve the church or serve Christians. We are called to serve the lost and broken world. It is my mission to serve my kids’ school. I joined school council. I work with my kids’ teachers and I buy them the best Christmas present my budget can afford. I tell them how much I appreciate them all the time. They are in a job you couldn’t pay me to have, and I want the best part of their day to be their interaction with me.
Miracle #4: I’m learning from my kids.
My kids are teaching me that faith should come out naturally in all we do, with no apologies. Exhibit A is my daughter’s schoolwork on the facing page. We actually teach her that she is important because Jesus loved her first—before she loved Him. And Jesus loves the whole world and died for every single one of us, so really, we are all important.
Miracle #5: It’s true. We are the light.
One teacher actually told me that our family has been a witness to her, that she wants to raise her family the way we raise ours, and that she is coming back to her faith in God. I cried. Living a life in Christ works. She sees a difference. And I was just being me in Christ. Being who you are in Christ is enough!
Here are some things I’ve learned about having kids in the public school system:
1. Be involved. No one is going to care about your opinion if you can’t show that you care about the school and the teachers. You can work full time and still be involved. School council meets one night a month—you can do that. Take time off work to go on field trips or volunteer in the class once a month. It’s important. Don’t just drop off your kid. Get involved, say hi to other parents, chat with the teacher, and learn the names of the other kids.
2. Be properly informed. Before you make demands or complain about things the school is required to teach (like the new sex education) take the time to read it. Curriculum is public information. Don’t just read blog posts and fear-driven arguments about the things schools are teaching your kids. I have found that reading the actual document helps put things in context. If something concerns you, ask the teacher how they are going to present the information. It’s your right to ask, and it’s their obligation to tell you if you do. If you are still uncomfortable with your child hearing about certain information from their teacher, then by all means pull them out of that particular lesson, but ...
3. Arm your kids with truth first. Even if you pull your kid out of a lesson, chances are they will still hear about the content from their classmates. Sex education in schools is a big, hot topic and I am not surprised by any of the content. You shouldn’t be either. Look at the media, the TV shows, the movies and anything else the world is pumping out these days. Kids are left alone with computers and tablets and have access to a whole lot of scary things. This is what kids are being exposed to, including my kids and your kids—no matter how much we try to protect them. What they are going to hear about in class or on the playground or potentially see on a kid’s smartphone at school should have already been a discussion at home. This means talking about the sex education content and giving them tools on what to do if someone shows them pornography. Don’t wait until they hear it or see it to discuss it—get ahead of it! Talk openly, honestly and biblically about these things. Get their minds thinking about what is pure, good and right and what practical actions they can take. Do this ahead of time to help avoid shame and confusion when something comes up at school.
4. Be the light. Being the light means shining bright and strong, confident in Christ. That is all you have to do to push darkness aside. The light doesn’t do a lot of posturing to quench the dark, and it certainly doesn’t work hard to make sure the dark knows it is dark. The light just shines.
Jordan Hageman lives with her husband, Josh, and their three kids in Stoney Creek, Ont. They attend Kingsview Community Church, where Josh is the lead pastor and they are actively involved in their community.
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This article appears in the September/October 2015 issue of testimony.
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