If you’ve ever heard me speak, read one of my articles, or subscribed to my weekly newsletter, you know what my passion is—my modus operandi. I don’t write about teaching techniques or philosophical educational models, and I don’t enter controversial topics of discussion. I’ve got laser focus when it comes to what I believe God has called me to say, do, and be.
In fact, if God stood at the foot of my bed and spoke in a voice with fire and thunder, I would be no more convinced of what my calling is than I am now. I was created to direct seagulls to the sea.
I can see by the look in your eyes that you’re confused. Let me explain.
I love the beach. A lake beach is fine, but I’m talking about the ocean. Perhaps it’s because I live in land-locked Indiana, but there’s something powerful and exhilarating about the surf lapping and crashing on the shore. There is nothing better than stepping out of my big RV after having traveled a thousand miles and smelling the salty air, tasting it on my tongue, and feeling the warm sand under my feet.
If I was given the choice between going just about anywhere and the beach…I’d choose the beach every time.
But there’s one beach sensation above all the rest. To me, it embodies the ocean, surf, and sand. It’s the shrill, breaking call of a seagull. I know ocean people think of them as water-rats, but this Hoosier loves those big, loud birds.
Here’s the point of this seagull-rabbit trail. Even in ocean-less Indiana, I come across their calls. Usually it happens at a Wal-Mart or some other mega-superstore that has an expansive parking lot. I hear them before I see them, and for a split second I feel “beachy.” After a quick search, I see the large, white birds dotted throughout the parking lot, standing or flying in search of French fries and scraps of garbage, and I’m perplexed.
I’ve given a lot of thought as to why seagulls favor large parking lots. I even did a little Internet research on the topic. The experts have their own theories, but mine is that, from the air, big blackish-gray parking lots look like big blackish-gray oceans.
I feel kind of sad for the loud birds. Somehow they’ve settled for a hard-packed, ocean imposter and have missed out on all that God created them to enjoy. In fact, I’ve had to stop myself a couple of times from running towards them waving and hollering, “Get out of here, you stupid birds. Don’t you know you’re missing it? You were made for the sea!”
That’s my passion. It’s not really about seagulls but about homeschooling parents who miss God’s best and settle for…asphalt. Every day I see them living in the hard-as-pavement school world of condemnation and failure. Experts have convinced them that this is the world in which they must live, work, and teach their “gullings.”
They follow the expert advice, struggle, plod, and spend most of their days in despair and hopelessness, oblivious to the fact that there might be something better.
That’s what I do, think, and write about. I half expect that my whole life will be spent running around waving my arms and calling out to moms and dads, “You were made for the SEA! Get out of the parking lot, and head to the open waters. It’s not about curriculum, Latin roots, memorizing dates, or sentence diagramming. It’s about freedom!”
That’s my message for you, Mom and Dad, but it’s a message that for some reason or another we have a hard time grasping. The truth is, we like asphalt and bars, lists of rules, chains, experts, and prison cells. We like the safety of being told what is best, even if it isn’t.
The Israelites were a vivid picture of this. God delivered them from the slavery of Egypt, and each time they experienced a little hardship they looked for a parking lot, ready to give up their God-designed freedom and head back into slavery.
And those early Christian leaders who knew better did the same. Saved and delivered by the blood of Jesus, they headed right back to the parking lot, convinced that it must have something to do with rules and dos and don’ts. Fortunately, Paul was there to remind them over and over again that they were made for the sea (Galatians 5:1-14).
“No, that’s not true,” you say. “We hate chains…we walk by faith…we’re not that way…we like our freedom…” Baloney! We’ve listened to the experts and said, “They’re right.” We’ve wasted so much time trying to make our homeschool look like the institutional schools that have failed. And, somehow, we still think their methods and standards should be our measuring stick.
We were made for the sea!
The wide and wild truth is that God made you smart enough to raise, train, and teach your children. If you believe your idea is better than the experts, it probably is. If you want to go to Disney World, then go. If you hate doing organic, stop. If you don’t like dressing the way they said you should dress, go shopping. If you don’t want to follow a specific curriculum, don’t. If you find yourself thinking, “There has to be a better way.” Stop doing it the “worser way,” and start looking for that better way, unafraid of what others might think or say.
Run away from those who would place chains upon you. Turn away from people who would have you do it their way.
We were made for the sea!
And Dad, you need to take the lead on this one, because your wife is prone to parking lot thinking. She likes to be safe. You, on the other hand, were made to be dangerous and to lead your family away from the concrete parking pads out to where the sea air blows steady and free. Your wife needs you to help her stay the course. She needs you to wave your arms and say, “No, that’s their way, but it’s not the best way and definitely not our way. You were made for more. You were made for freedom. You were made for the sea.”
It’s what I call the parable of the seagull.
Todd Wilson, author of Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe and Help! I’m Married to a Homeschooling Mom, is a dad, writer, conference speaker, and former pastor. Todd’s humor and gut-honest realness have made him a favorite speaker at homeschool conventions across the country and a guest on Focus on the Family. Todd and his wife Debbie homeschool their eight children in northern Indiana and travel around America in the Familyman Mobile. You’ll find Todd at Familyman Ministries and The Smiling Homeschooler.
This article originally appeared in the 2018 Spring Issue of Homeschooling Today magazine.