Class Rosters, Control, and Something Better

Every fall, as a parent I feel a little anxiety over which teacher or which peers will be in my kids’ classes.  This feeling reminds me to urge my kids to pray and trust that God knows what is best for them.  Still, I struggle to suppress the desire to take action – to initiate requests for specific teachers or control the outcome in some way. 

If I really believe that God hears my prayers, knows what is best, and is involved in the details of our lives, then unless I feel Him pressing on my heart to take action, I should just let Him have the control. I don't need to try to manipulate things to go my way.  Still, it isn’t easy…

Five Years Ago
I remember that sweltering hot afternoon in Texas standing in lines outside the elementary school doors, waiting for a peek at the class rosters for the new school year (WHY didn’t they post them on the web??).  My daughter and I had prayed that God would give her the beloved fifth grade teacher that she deeply hoped for and that her best friend would be in her class.  When we approached the doors, finally next in line, huge tears swelled in her eyes as she discovered that God gave her neither – in fact, she not only got the ‘worstest teacher ever,’ but there was no one in her circle of friends on her class roster. To compound the matter, her best friend got the best teacher and all the good friends.  She sobbed in the car the whole way home and my heart broke for her. 

Fast forward one month later – the ‘worstest teacher ever’ turned out to be the best -- a great fit to prepare her for middle school.  Jenna, a girl in her class that seemed obnoxious the year before, became her new best friend. Even more amazing, a couple years later, Jenna moved to Kansas the exact same year that we were also transplanted, and their friendship has continued to deepen as they live only one hour apart.  God didn’t give us what we wished for.  He gave us something better.

As I write this, my son’s eyes are puffy and red from tears of disappointment.  My heart is shattering with his. I want to step in and take control, to fix the problem, but I need to remember what God has done in the past so that I can trust Him with the future.

I had tried to prepare for this.  Last night, while counting the number of fifth and sixth graders that might be enrolled this year, I considered the idea of the dreaded “combination class.”   When I mentioned the possibility to my son, he said he’d rather die than be stuck with baby fifth graders.  My words of comfort were that perhaps my idea was wacky and that instead we should pray and trust God with the outcome.

But then what did I do? I e-mailed the principal my son’s concern about the combination class hoping it would overrule my sister’s phone call that our boys be placed in separate classes.  My sister had not known about the possibility of the combination class, and if she had, she never would have made that phone call.  Otherwise, one of us would have a suicidal sixth grader on our hands.  How could I just sit back and see what God would do?  How could the combination class be good for either of them? I knew it would be better for them to be together than for one of them to be in the combination class.

Then the dreaded thing happened. This afternoon, the principal called and personally explained why my sixth grader was ESPECIALLY hand-picked for the combination class, the class that he had declared was worse than death itself (just for dramatic effect – we know heaven is better than ANYTHING). 

My son doesn’t really want to hear that God knows better, that what He gives is better than what we wish. He doesn’t want to hear that God is in control and has this planned for his good.  All he knows is that right now it feels like the end of the world and he wants me to change it.  And I am fighting the urge to fix his pain by manipulating the outcome. Do I intervene to give him what he wants and what I think is good for him? Or do I just listen and watch, and be ready to remind him a month from now that God did indeed give Him something better...


  1. Awwww..... I so felt your emotional struggle to step in as a parent and make things better for your child(ren) in the 'now'.
    I am reminded of former pastor's large oak tree. He lived in a very nice housing development with a beautifully landscaped lawn that had an automatic sprinkler system. Every evening at the right time, the sprinklers came on and watered the plants and trees keeping them lush and green and beautiful.
    A big wind-storm came through one day and the big oak tree was pushed over, falling onto the house and doing a ton of damage.
    When the tree-cutters came to cut the tree up and haul it away, the explained to the pastor that because this tree was watered every day, it never had the opportunity to grow it's roots deep into the earth where it would gain stability and strength against adversity. The slightest strong wind sent it toppling, ripping it's roots from the ground, and it ended up doing damage not only to itself, but to others.
    I wish I'd have heard that story when we were raising our son.
    I think in answer to your question, I'd do neither. I'd watch and listen and counsel and guide and wait. Then after he's been there awhile, I'd ask my son to tell me where He sees God in the midst of this dreaded combination class.
    Praying for your son and for God to reveal Himself to Him through this situation,

  2. Paula, I understand your struggle and I am so thankful that the Lord called me to homeschool so that I do not have this particular one. I do have my struggles with homeschooling, but I have seen God bring to my daughter exactly what she needs because I am not able to supply all her needs or even discipline her in all ways. I rest on God for many more things now and try to control less. I have learned that which I try to control the most, controls me the more.

    I will pray that God provides what your children need to prepare their hearts for His service.

  3. Deb, the tree analogy is a beautiful idea to consider in parenting! I think we naturally want our children to be happy, but I really moreso want them to become the strong, deeply-rooted people that God desires them to be. Your prayers mean a lot to me.

    SeekingmyLord, I have been intrigued to read about what you deal with in the blessing of homeschooling the Princess. Thanks for your prayers and I will pray for you and her too!

    In hopes of alleviating my son's despair, I took him to see the principal this afternoon. By the time we left, he felt incredibly blessed to be "chosen" and saw opportunity to be a leader and to excel. I know the weeks ahead won't be easy, but at least now he is a few steps closer toward trusting God in this.