Stacy McDonald at Your Sacred Calling has posted an article by another writer, Sonny Scott. It highlights a quirk of human nature that I have been mulling over in my mind lately, but he talks about it so much more directly than I could have. Specifically, how we human beings have tendency to resent those who have done a better job at something than we ourselves. In this case he's talking about home schoolers, but it certainly isn't homeschooling alone that brings this out in people. Take housekeeping for example. Isn't amazing how resentful we women can be about other women who are good housekeepers? "Well, I decided that being a good mother is more important than being a good housekeeper." "She must be really uptight." "I'm just a more creative person than that." Even down to buying a plaque for our walls that say "A clean house is a sign of a sick mind." Oh good grief. Probably the reason her house is clean is because she makes it a priority and works at it!
When I first discovered homeschooling, I couldn't believe everybody wouldn't want to do it. I could see children being liberated in droves, schools emptying like a public pool when summer vacation is over. I talked about it with a lot of enthusiasm to anyone with ears. Pretty soon I did have to realize that this "good news" was not always well received by everyone. The very fact that I saw any fault with the status quo was interpreted by some as having a judgemental attitude. I'm not saying this is true of everyone who decided to do something different from me, but those who had to smear my character whether mentally or vocally to justify their own position.
I've also noticed that those who do this are most likely the ones who for whatever reason are unhappy with the way their children have turned out. Usually if people are content with their decisions and happy with the results they don't have to grudge someone else being happy with their own as well. If I'm financially content, I don't have to be envious of someone else's good fortunes, I am free to rejoice with those who rejoice. But if I am secretly (or maybe not so secretly) harboring regrets, envy, resentment or whatever, I probably won't be able to be genuinely happy for my neighbor when he gets a new boat. Just the same, if I am feeling defensive or unhappy with my children and how they've turned out, than when someone else's kid is doing impressive things, had a good relationship with his parents and tucks in his shirt tails to boot... Well..
Often it is just so easy rather than to face my own failings it is much easier just to lash out with criticism at the other. "Just look at that smile. There's pride in there somewhere." "They think they are better than the rest of us." "They've made an idol out of their family." "They are most certainly judging me." (Probably they spend a lot less time thinking about me than I think!) We would all be a lot better off if we knew how to graciously be happy for other people, acknowledge God's sovereignty and get over it!
Now I'm not talking about people who make different decisions. There are complexities to people's decisions that we may not be familiar with. It isn't up to any of us, unless it's in our sphere of power, to make a full assessment of what other people are doing. At least not the areas where there is Biblical liberty-not out and out sin, of course. We don't really always know the heart motives involved. Though I AM a firm believer in examining the fruits we see in areas, such as educational choices, and make decisions based on what we observe. That we all must do.
Anyway, enough of my rambling. Don't let me take up your time. Go read the article.