Culture At Large

What my family gained when we lost our Christian school

Caryn Rivadeneira

A funny thing happened on the way to the library.

Just fresh from the post office - where I had chatted up a neighbor in line and then laughed as the long-time clerk behind the counter teased me about my “usual” request  - I walked up the tree-lined path that leads to the library. Where I ran into a fellow mom from my kids’ school. And then a dad.

After I nodded at one and stopped to talk to the other, the funny thing happened: I realized that once again I’d been given something I’d longed for. In this instance, something I thought would require a move to a quaint (imaginary?) small town to find. I’d gotten the deep sense of home-town belonging, of community, I’d long sought. And this was yet another example of God’s show-offy abundance, which came straight out of my family's years of financial desperation and one huge difficult decision.

I cried the day we realized we’d have to pull our kids from the Christian school they attended. I cried for my kids’ sense of loss, for their fears of being the “new kid.” I cried for my own failure. (Why hadn’t we sent them to public school in the first place? Why hadn’t I heeded God’s pull to public school years earlier?) And I cried because God had failed. Us.

After all, it seemed the people at church we talked to about the increasingly unaffordable school had encouraged us to “trust God,” to remember “God provides.” So many people had told us their dramatic stories of being unable to pay the tuition but then suddenly - miraculously! - God stepped in and voila! Money not only for three kids in private school, but for a fine vacation as well. Hallelujah!

I cried the day we realized we’d have to pull our kids from the Christian school they attended.

So I cried because I thought if I lived out of faith - not fear - that this could be our story as well. I cried because it wasn’t. God blessed them - all those other faithful folks. And apparently not us.

But a funny thing happened then too. After turning my “laughter to mourning” as James 4:9-10 tells us, the Lord kept His promise in that verse: He lifted me right up. What had felt like a curse - the “humiliation” of having to admit we couldn’t afford the tuition that seemed to come so easily for the families around us - turned into blessing after blessing right before our eyes.

Not having enough money for Christian education has been one of the biggest blessings of my family’s life. We’ve felt it educationally, socially, salt-and-lightily and communally. Barely a day goes by when I’m not blown away by God’s presence and goodness in the schools - and in my family’s life because of the switch. I see this as my kids enjoy resources and opportunities not available in their previous school - and see them excelling with them. I see His goodness with every new neighborhood friendship my kids and I have developed. I see it when walking or carpooling with neighbors to school. I see it in the connections and bonds I now share with my neighbors - in the ways I’m able to love them better because of this.

Turns out, God did provide. But not the way so many had assured me He would.

So when I get an email or a Facebook message or when someone pops by, nearly in tears, thinking they too will have to pull their kids out of Christian school, wondering why God doesn’t provide, I tell them this: I can’t speak to where God might be calling a family or which school might be best. But I can speak to God’s faithfulness, His unlikely provision and unexpected blessings. I can speak of the richness of dependence on God. I can speak of finding His goodness and His lavishing us with the deep desires of our heart, which is just about the best Christian education there is.

Topics: Culture At Large, News & Politics, Education, Home & Family, Parenting, Money