Although the pandemic shut everything down, my 8-year-old granddaughter Greta continued to practice Irish dance on the dance floor her daddy had built for her at home. Greta was eager to prepare for July nationals, and this new schedule afforded extra time to practice.
Then it happened.
A high bounce on the trampoline.
A snap in her foot.
A broken ankle.
No more dance.
At first the cast and knee scooter were novel, and the attention was fun. However, by three weeks her leg grew itchy and she longed to be free of the cast.
This pandemic has formed a “cast,” around our typical lives. At first, I enjoyed the slower pace, but in week three I began to feel confined – especially when I learned that we were quarantined indefinitely. Too much of this good thing didn’t feel so great anymore! If I was feeling this way, I knew it was far worse for students and their parents.
My grandkids attend Veritas Academy, a University-Model® School like HOPE Academy, and I help with the home days – even more now while we shelter at home next door to each other. Although academics remain important, I believe this season needs to be less about informing their minds and more about forming their hearts. What an opportunity we had to model an abiding trust in Jesus as well as life-long lessons such as dealing with adversity and empathizing with others.
The Bible tells us in James 1:2-3 to “count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” But how can we authentically count disease, death, loss and uncertainty as joy?
I looked up this word steadfast and discovered that it means active endurance – a quality that helps you patiently finish a long race. The Jewish philosopher Philo called steadfastness the “the queen of virtues” – a frame of mind which leads to resilience. Romans 5:3 says “we rejoice in our suffering because we know that suffering produces perseverance.”
To be steadfast – to actively endure – produces resilience and perseverance. We have a great opportunity right in our homes, where our real character surfaces to nurture these key virtues in our children. This is where joy lies.
Greta is weepy – a reasonable response. Yet she is learning to deal with disappointment. Another granddaughter is figuring out how to maintain focus while she experiences “Zoom fatigue.” My 8th grade grandson is discovering how to remain engaged productively and still pursue his athletic aims.
And how about you?
God is adjusting my priorities by teaching me to steadfastly rest in Him instead of making my daily to-do list the top priority. Maybe you are learning to replace an irritable mindset with a gentler approach? Perhaps you are finding strength for today by not growing anxious over tomorrow?
Let’s not waste this life-defining season but make the most of it by daily practicing and modeling for our kids what God is teaching us. Then we will find joy and come out on the back end of this pandemic better, stronger and with more resilience than we had before.
We would love to hear from you in what ways can you make the most of this life-defining season? How are you living in order to find joy and hope during this time? Comment below, we can’t wait to see what advice you have.
About the author: Ellen is an experienced mentor for parents, especially parents whose children attend University-Model® schools. She currently serves as the Family Ministries Director at Veritas Academy in Austin, Texas, a University-Model school she has been a part of since its inception in 2005. In addition, she is the Family Ministry Coordinator for the UMSI association.
Ellen has been married to her husband Glen for 45 years and together they enjoy living out life nearby their adult children and 11 grandchildren who all attend Veritas Academy. She is closely involved, each week, in her grandkid’s school days at home. Together Ellen and Glen serve at the Springs Church as mentors, meeting with engaged couples and offering support to young married couples and parents.
Ellen and her oldest daughter, Erin MacPherson, co-authored Put the Disciple into Discipline, and Free to Parent. She and her husband co-authored A Spiritual Heritage: Connecting Kids & Grandkids to God & Family. She has been a guest on the Focus on the Family Podcast and is published in their online newsletter.