Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Getting to Go: The Three Year Challenge, Minus One

Starting another homeschooling year (junior year of high school this time) brought to mind our challenge last August: to discern our student’s purpose in life. In the past year’s process, however, we hit a snag: how can the student discover Life Purpose when the teachers still haven’t? I’m old enough to be a grandmother now, and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up! We may be the leaders, going around the game board of education once again, but we haven’t seemed to pass “Go” yet, ourselves.

For those who’ve been around since PC was a new thing (personal computers, not “politically correct”), you probably remember the advice to pick the software before purchasing the hardware; launching a student from high school calls for application of the same advice. The traditional route everyone has been programmed to follow, borrowed from public schools, demands that college should be the next step after high school. Students should be cashing in their game chips for great college recruitment hits long before the college application season starts in earnest in the junior year. Last August, it occurred to us that 2007 was the year to get busy. It would be only three years until graduation.

On first impulse, it seemed the natural start was to choose which college to attend. Like buying the proverbial computer, though, that decision required some additional input—like, “What is the purpose of attending college?” And, “What do I want to accomplish by receiving further education?” In other words, what “software” would guide us through this task best? Which hardware (college or other option) would then best run the software we selected?

That’s where the process broke down….

It seems there is a world of space between Now and Getting To Go.

Most of it has to do with examining weighty things like Life Purpose. How to decide that in 3 Easy Steps? Or even 48 Days? These are questions that the “normal” school doesn’t put on their exit exams.

So, last August, in a family conference, our challenge was for Claire (then the lucky sophomore) to pursue the quest to find her Life Purpose in three simple years or less.

And then, the thought hit us: in three years, Chris would be eligible for early retirement. And because of Claire’s graduation, in three years, I would be facing a whole new world of possibilities, too. Then what?

Last August, the challenge became: take these three years to explore what God has for each of us, as individuals and as a family, for future service—whether work or ministry. And the inevitable result was, one year out, we realized that—like so many software programs hawking the same benefits to the unsuspecting, na├»ve customer—future possibilities can be overwhelming. A lot of thinking has mired us in Analysis Paralysis. The time gap is now two years and counting. The task gap is still three years. Welcome to Phase Two of the Process: thinking (blogging) out loud as we explore the possibilities.

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