Saturday, June 7, 2008

This isn't really about homeschooling, but here's one thing I learned from the Virginia Homeschool Conference yesterday...

I went to the conference with high hopes. The night before, I was like a child waiting on Christmas - dreamy, and jittery with anticipation. At the same time, I purposefully tried to calm myself and act mature, reserved, and patient.

I looked forward to people - meeting new people, listening to famous people, and smiling at unknown people. Public events of such size are always full of bustling, directing...and so many people! Such scenes remind me of a noisy ant hill.

The Richmond Convention Center buildings, where the conference was held, are masterpieces of modern architecture. Whole walls are constructed of seemingly one window, while in other places glass tunnels lead over streets, connecting one building to another like indoor bridges.

The whole place is filled with a bright grey-blue light, created by sunlight passing through countless tinted windows. Forest green carpet, and a ceiling several dozen feet above us, adds richness to the atmosphere. When I walk through the glass doors into this place, I sense importance.

Important people, rushing here and there. Men in business suits. Men communicating to teams of workers, via walkie-talkies. Women in high heels clicking to desks and filling out forms.

And there I was, a homely, country-looking girl, swallowed up by the crowd of her family surrounding her, and looking about 15, though she's old enough to drive and vote.

Being a volunteer at the conference this year was a major cause of my excited anticipation. "At last! I'll have a job to do! I will be behind a desk! I'll feel like I'm a part of all this bustle!"

I wasn't raised in a very public atmosphere. My family hasn't traveled all over Europe, or been in and out of hundreds of airports, or been a part of major influential circles. We haven't even been to lots of conferences. When we do travel, it's almost always to visit family or historical places. My parents are dear, honorable, godly people who have much influence in our own circles, but my family name isn't known around the country. We meet lots of people, but mostly in one-on-one situations, not in public arenas. We're just ordinary folks.

I knew about some of the young ladies I would be meeting at the conference. They were speakers there, or in charge of behind-the-scenes work. They are well-traveled girls, with poise, grace, something to say - and people to listen to them. I know they meet dozens and dozens of people, everywhere they go. I so desperately wanted to come across as different - not someone they smiled at, said "nice to meet you" to, then turned away from to shake the next hand, but a girl they could become friends with and remember beyond the events of the day.

Now, how unrealistic is it, to expect that? Very.

Oh, I had a lovely day. I did my volunteer work. I sat behind the desk. I answered questions. I met the young ladies I had hoped to meet. One I worked under. We were too busy to really talk. I understood that.

Others I listened to as I sat amid the crowd at their sessions. I was introduced to them afterwards. I was able to stand in the "inner circle" and converse for almost five minutes. Then they moved on. There were other girls waiting. Very natural. I understood completely, and was thankful for having received so much.

Or was I?

Ashamed I am to write it, but I had to battle against selfish desires and ugly pride as I left the conference. I had had enormous fun working in the morning, and the sessions I listened to in the afternoon were some of the best I've ever heard, yet I wasn't content.

How could I be so encouraged towards godliness by these young women, and yet envy their...

... their what?

What was it I envied? Their popularity? The opportunities they have had that I haven't? The fact that they are doing so much for the Lord, while I'm not doing half as much as I want to do?

Maybe I envied all of it.

And my pride was stung. I wanted to be important too! Ah, curse that I am under! Why must I always desire to increase instead of decrease?

I found a red brick pillar, off to one side in one of the busiest grand halls. I leaned against it and observed the action around me. So many people. I felt very small and young. I was so tempted to give in to despondency and bitterness.

Then the verse was sent to my mind. MY verse - the one I cling to in order to keep me afloat in every sea of trouble.

"The joy of the LORD is my strength."

Like a drowning man finding a rope that has been tossed to him, I clung to that verse. As I did, other ropes of hope hit the water around me. Verses about contentment, faith, humility, kindness, love... ...and I became truly ashamed of myself.

Shame can also drown a person. Joy keeps one afloat. So I took a fresh grip on my verse, whispered it aloud, and walked down the hall to find my family.

Lessons learned:

#1 ~ Several weeks ago, a friend of mine made an observation so wise it could have come from the lips of an 80 year old woman; "I think the reason we are so often disappointed by 'special days' is because we expect too much of them." She's so right.

#2 ~ Be content with such things as I have, for HE HIMSELF has said that He will never leave me, nor forsake me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am so with you! I completely felt the same way. I assume you are talking about the Botkins here :) I did have a chance to talk with them quite a bit though and I do admire them very much. Although I still don't think they even remember my name. They are very sweet though :)

My we both seek and find contentment.