So, I have been thinking about the fairy tale, The Three Little Pigs. Yesterday, I emailed a friend and she was sharing with me about her preparations for the new homeschool term with her children. Once upon a time, she was a teacher at institutional schools. She comes from a family with many educators in it. When she first approached homeschooling her children, she took much of her philosophy from that experience with her. Over time and through meeting other homeschoolers, she began to wonder if her approach was the right fit for her family. Her children were learning, of course. They are really smart kids. But something wasn’t fitting. She started to do some research. She was drawn to the educational philosophy and form of Charlotte Mason. Needless to say, there were significant differences between that and what she initially brought to her homeschool.
She is a good teacher. Her former philosophies weren’t bad. Quite possibly for most educational institutions in the U.S. they were a great fit. But they weren’t working as she had hoped. She wanted more and was beginning to see that for her family, a CM education may be the best way to go. She told me,
I am feeling the “old” ideas ingrained from birth through school and teaching starting to fall away.
As I read this, I started thinking about how our whole life is like this. As we move through life, we feel the “old” fall away for a new and better thing. This is true in our mothering, family, prayer, faith…. everything, really.
Okay, so stay with me here… because I know that among the lessons we learn from The Three Little Pigs are things like being wise or foolish, taking the easy way or the better, more difficult way… but I am going to focus on things a little differently… because my brain works like that.
We know that when the pigs left home, they had to go out and find shelter. Each built their own dwelling. One used straw, one used “wood,” or “sticks,”( or some other tree-related material depending on which version of the story we read) and the last pig built a home of brick. For my purposes, I’m going to assume that they thought what they built was the best idea for varying reasons: ease, cost, sufficiency.
Until the Wolf came and huffed and puffed and blew his house down! At that point he realized that perhaps his idea wasn’t the best idea after all. This little pig had his life threatened. He was scared. He ran for it all the way to his brother’s house. His brother who built his house of sticks. Surely, this new dwelling, made of a much sturdier material would provide the safety and comforts he was looking for. This was a new, better idea. He was probably pretty pleased that he had learned his lesson and moved on.
Sadly, however, once he was settle and enjoying a cup of tea with his brother, he came to learn that the better way wasn’t quite what he was looking for either! He and his brother soon enough found that the Wolf was determined and that he would huff and puff even harder to get that stick house down! Even though he moved from his previous place and convictions, he still had more to learn, more growth to experience. And his brother learned the same lesson. (maybe the brother even felt a little smug at first about his own wisdom, but that entry will have to wait for another time!) I am sure they were surprised to learn that while the place they were in was better than the straw, it was not the best still. There was something better out there waiting for them.
Finally, these little pigs end up where they were meant to be. They joined their wisest brother in his strong house. This house was able to withstand all the the Big, Bad Wolf was able to throw at it. This was the right place to be. It was a good, safe and secure place. It was strong and comfortable. It would withstand the test of time and it would remain strong against attacks.
Even though in the fairy tale the Wolf is a bad guy who has less than noble motives for blowing houses down, I make a bit of a switch in my mind. Maybe the Wolf is God. Our God who wants the best for us and will destroy our straw houses in order to make us move. Sometimes we move because we are afraid. Other times we move because we are motivated by what lies ahead, but always the moves that the Lord urges us into are for our greater good.
Each situation brought the pigs closer to where they should be. Every time the Lord destroys one of my straw houses, it brings me closer to where I should be. While dwelling in my straw houses, I convince myself that I am doing the best I can. I believe I have found “the” way in my mothering or prayer or household management or in my homeschooling. It is a sincere belief. I am motivated (usually) to do what I believe is best. The problem is that what I think is best often isn’t. It doesn’t mean it is bad. It may have even been the best for me at a particular time. It means there is more. The Good God wants the absolute best for me and my family. He will “destroy” the things that are false, that are imposters in order to bring me to the better place. And once I get there, I will have much better defenses against the attacks of the world, the flesh and the (other) bad big, bad wolf.
God, help me to embrace the change you want to bring about in me and my life. Bring me to the place you have planned for me in all areas of my life. Grant me the humility to be willing to change, the wisdom to know where to go and the courage to stand up after each straw house is destroyed and look for the brick house you want to lead me to!