To Be or Not to Be: Learning From Failure Part 3October 3, 2022
Choosing to homeschool is only for the brave, and I commend you for stepping into the battle on your child’s behalf despite what family, friends, or the culture says. It makes you part of a growing army of parents who are willing to do hard things. Relish the title and the unsung honor for the one and a half minutes you have to yourself while you hide so you can drink your lukewarm coffee and text the other survivors you know out there for any sign of life. Just don’t forget to get your hands wet and turn off the faucet you turned on in order to drown out the carnage raging outside the bathroom door. Forget about blearily checking the mirror. We don’t want to discourage the troops – mainly you. This is war and you already have your game face on. Remember that you are a warrior and that victory is usually won by the most determined fighters. Nope, don’t give in and look in the mirror. Just pick up the weapons you have available: Purpose, Determination, God’s mercy, and lots of Caffeine and then step into the fight with a grin. That smirking war face of yours may throw the wild horde off long enough for you to gain the high ground near the coffee pot again. Then the battle begins. Challenge. Failure. Challenge. Failure. Challenge. Refuse to let them see the fear in your eyes and then advance and conqueror.
You Are Not Alone
Remember, you are not alone. We usually tend to admire men and women who have faced challenges, fell on their faces and then staggered back to their feet again with more deeply imprinted lessons than they started with. History is full of examples. As a child, I always loved to hear my grandfather, who was named after General Robert E. Lee, tell stories of men who persevered through failure just as he had. He was a man who could appreciate the character and the lessons learned from both his namesake and President Abraham Lincoln. He admired General Douglas MacArthur and used lessons from that leader’s terrible losses and eventual victory in World War II to teach me how to study men and history. It was my grandfather who let me keep a picture of Sir Winston Churchill which I eventually carried with me into military service, and who taught me to say, “Never, never, never give up!”
If you’ve been reading my recent articles, you know that I faced a number of painful and humiliating challenges to learning when I was younger. Whatever the causes, I hereby apologize to all my teachers whose lives and career choices I changed forever. My sincere appreciation to those who helped me see life and teach others in a unique way. With that said, dear reader, bear with me as always as I use personal experience to help us navigate this treacherous minefield so you can help your child.
Learning Through Experience
By now it should be no surprise to you that in my military career, I was never the fastest, the strongest, or most brilliant, but by then I’d learned from my challenges and had a unique skill set the military wanted. Your child may not be destined for the military, but I do believe that God has given you the opportunity to find the unique purpose He has for them. Remember that Reading, Writing, Math, and Science are not the ultimate purpose for your children. They are simply tools that can help them honor God and care for those they become responsible for. There are a lot of ways to do that which are often missed by people who forget this simple rule. My father can no longer remember teaching me that principle, and his father is no longer here for me to thank, but I would not be the man I am today without that wisdom.
In Elementary, I was banned from asking “Why?” by more than one desperate teacher since no one had time to explain why I needed to learn the rules of a twisted language with French, Spanish, and German influences. I also couldn’t read well because I was a shy latch-key kid while both of my parents went to college and worked full time. So sometimes I would spend the summers with my grandparents. Even as a child I heard references from other family members that my mom’s father had made his career and his hobbies more important than his family. Yet by the time I stayed with him, he was learning from his failures and made an investment in me I will never forget. Instead of textbooks and lectures, he gave me my first skill by teaching me to carve while he talked about Bible stories or family history. After chores, we’d avoid the “mad squaw” waiting in the brick teepee and slip through the woods and weeds like Indian scouts to show me something unique about a flower, a fox, a wood duck; or to ask me to describe what I saw, felt, heard or smelled. My dad’s father, who had very little education before he lied about his age to fight in World War II, taught me the values of hard work, self-sacrifice, honor authority, and a love for working the land so I could take care of my family. I had a riot learning from both men who’d literally fought their way back from failure. Ideas, principles, morals, and skills they gave me that would later help me in and out of the classroom.
Pushing Through Failure Breeds Success
As a child, my ADHD mind was whirling with many different things and I couldn’t seem to keep all the information unjumbled or numbers in the correct order, so by college, I’d learned to take notes. This struggle always seemed to be a disadvantage until I became a Marine Corps Combat Correspondent. Good notes and good questions are the basics of good journalism. With what I gained from dealing with these challenges, I began to discover things others missed because they didn’t think to ask it or the truth was buried in the clutter, unintentionally or otherwise. During my military career, these blessings in disguise gave me the tools I needed to go on unbelievable assignments.
As a military journalist, I was blessed to have the tools and determination I’d gained from failure to work with or write about some of the most incredible Soldiers and leaders you could ever meet. Amazing, real-life stories of people that you will never hear about in our clickbait politically driven news. As a youth mentor, I used the experiences I’d gained from my mother’s father to teach struggling students a new way of seeing their world and the information in front of them. As a troop leader, manager, writer, homesteader, and father I have used timeworn principles my dad’s father gave me to teach others how to combine textbooks, work ethic, and homespun skills to care for their families and those they become responsible for.
You see, my weaknesses and challenges became my strengths. I’d say that was worth every bit of misery and struggle, wouldn’t you? So, if you feel like giving up because your child is struggling with something in school, remember this: You are in a fight for your child’s soul and future. You never know what your investment will produce or who else it might affect.
So grab your coffee, Soldier, put on your game face, and let’s go to war.
More About the Author:
Gabriel is a former homeschooled missionary kid and homeschooling father who adores his wife, children, and grandchildren. He is currently rebuilding a 130-year-old homestead, writing a historical fiction book on character for young people, and mentoring young men. He is a former U.S. Marine Corps Combat Correspondent, Army National Guard Photographer, and U.S. Army Deputy Public Affairs representative and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. He lived in Central America during Junior High and served on military short and long-term assignments across the U.S. and in half a dozen countries, including Iraq during his military career. Besides his deep faith and his family, his passion is writing and developing young men into capable steward leaders.