by Rebecca Kocsis

As I look back at the years we homeschooled my mind tends to go in one of two directions. Either I romanticize them, remembering only the wonderful times and the warm and fuzzy moments, as if the difficult days never happened. Or I look back remembering only my regrets. It’s easy to let the “what if’s” and the “if only’s” take over. Neither of those recollections are accurate. What’s been truly enlightening is finding out what my children remember.

Do they remember the time our science project bombed, setting the kitchen towel on fire? Nope. My oldest says she doesn’t remember doing science at all until she took Chemistry in community college. And she said that out loud when we were speaking in front of a room full of fifty or so homeschool parents!

What do the boys remember about science? Dissecting things . . . and the time we bought dry ice and they created mini-explosions. They remember dead things and explosions. Well, when things catch on fire that aren’t supposed to? Moms remember that.

In fact some of the most intentional things I did while we homeschooled, my children have little to no memory of.

Take The Pilgrim’s Progress for example. In case you’re not familiar with this Christian classic by John Bunyan, it’s an allegorical tale written while the author was actually in prison and then published in 1678, six years after his release. According to Terry Glaspey, who wrote Great Books of the Christian Tradition, every Christian should be intimately acquainted with this story. Carole Joy Seid believes it’s so important to our Christian heritage that children should start hearing it at a very young age. So I dutifully did that.

When my children were younger, I had already been reading them the picture book adaptation, Dangerous Journey, written by Alan Perry and Oliver Hunkin. As they got older I read them another adaptation published by Christian Liberty Press (long out of print) that included Part 2 about Christiana, the wife of the main character. Then as young adults they studied the original version.

Several years later, my oldest son, already a grown man, was over with his family. I had pulled out Dangerous Journey to read to the kids. He picked it up and thumbed through it.

“This is a great book! Where did you get it?”

I was surprised.

“We’ve had that book for years. I read it to you when you were little. In fact, I read it to you and your siblings many times. You don’t remember it?” He shook his head and shrugged.

Then I asked him, “We read The Pilgrim’s Progress in a number of versions, but it wasn’t always called that. Maybe that’s why it’s not ringing a bell. But you studied the original in high school. It was a part of your British Literature course. Don’t you remember that?” He didn’t remember.

Aside from daily devotions together, that was one of the more intentional things I had done when the kids were young and he didn’t remember a thing about it. I was floored. How could he not remember?

Then I had a thought. In truth, it was the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. “Just because he doesn’t remember doesn’t mean that I didn’t use it.”

Just because my son doesn’t remember the intentional things I did when he was young, doesn’t mean it didn’t play a part in the shaping of his Christian character. God is not dependent on our ability to remember something in order for Him to use it.

Our son grew up to be a godly man. He loves his wife and children. He’s involved in his church and makes sure his family gets there on Sundays. He’s faithful to train his children up in the ways of the Lord. And he has grown up to appreciate literature (he’s got an enviable library) and reads aloud to his children. He’s an intentional parent.

Take heart. Don’t worry if your kids don’t remember from one year to the next what great lengths you’ve gone through to give them a solid Christian education. And don’t expect them to appreciate your efforts right now either. It’s great if they do, but you might have to wait a few years for them to understand.

I’ve wondered if I didn’t do a very good job with exposing my children to The Pilgrim’s Progress. Maybe that’s why our son didn’t remember. Maybe if I had said, ”I’m doing this intentionally as a part of your Christian upbringing, so pay attention” he would have remembered? But no …

If God has shown you to do something, do it. Be faithful to the direction God is giving you. He will use it. He will bless your faithfulness. It has nothing to do with how perfectly you obey. It has everything to do with God and His faithfulness.

“The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24 (NIV)