Strolling the Back to School aisles of Target and tossing twenty-five cent crayons, pencils and glue sticks into my cart makes me giddy. Pretty folders decorated with kittens and flowers beckon to me, while the notebook aisle disperses that new paper smell and packages of dollar markers, with their untouched ink-filled tips, whisper of new beginnings.
Yet in the midst of my back-to-school euphoria, lurking just around the corner is heaviness, a foreshadowing of all the labor that is to come, and it slips down around my shoulders like a mantle, harnessing me until Spring.
For the last three years, since my homeschooling career began, I have wrestled with all that September offers.
September offers an end to chaos, re-instating organization, neatness, schedules, activities and goals. Skyrocketed bedtimes plummet back to earth. Family dinner hour resurfaces. My calendar, filled with weekly repetition, makes expectations clear.
September also offers an end to spontaneity, stifling my impulsive nature. No more sleeping in or late night TV. No more ordering out or yelling, “Get your own!” No more spur of the moment afternoon movies and days at the pool—there are too many things on the schedule for that!
It’s love/hate because it’s hard to pick a side. Chaotic “make up your own rules” days vs. “consistent know what to expect” days. I love order and structure—but not if I’m tied to them!
Does God understand my war?
He does! The Bible promises He is always the same, never changing, and dependable without fail. In Revelation 1:8 (NIV) God tells me that He is the “…Alpha and the Omega…who is, and who was, and who is to come…” And Hebrews 13:8 (NIV) assures me that, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
Yet, God’s character is still filled with novelty and my relationship with Him never needs to be idle. There is always a fresh start. “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:18-20, NIV).
As I press on through September, going from one extreme to another, I know that I am not walking this path alone and I love that God understands me, even in all my strangeness and contradiction. He sprints beside me through my chaotic impulsiveness and marches evenly alongside me through my structured organization. And one day when my kids are grown and gone, we will make a brand new path together. Although, I think September may always lure me in with its nostalgic memories and my desire to reconcile the two sides of myself.