My home schooled daughter recently bailed after reading two thirds of Augustine’s Confessions (Chadwick, 2008). Her favorite part of history is the Rockabilly Era, not the Medieval Ages. Similarly, she eschews Geometry (have I mentioned that I have degrees in Mathematics?), and finds little compelling in her Chemistry. Yet she rocks at Latin, taught by her grandmother. Can you guess that I am frequently discontented with my role as a home school mom?
Not one to leave loose ends, I decided to complete Augustine’s autobiography, even as home school discontentment swirled around me. Imagine how my interest piqued as I read Augustine’s declaration to God in Book XIII, “whatever is less than you can never be sufficient to provide itself with the rest of contentment” (p. 277). Apparently Augustine of Hippo learned something that many Christians have not fully accepted: “all [our] abundance which is other than [our] God is mere indigence” (p. 278).
Back to my daughter, an out-of-the-box thinker: I started out chasing the abundant home school models of other parents. I found discontentment, which propelled me toward a higher challenge: truly accepting my unconventional child, and exploring unique ways to facilitate her learning experience. Accepting her as she is, not as I might wish her to be, provides contentment. Yet that acceptance only comes with my belief that she is just as God desires her to be.
Penned in the waning years of the fourth century A.D., I suspect that Augustine’s words could promote healthy discussion for people of all faiths, as well as those with none. What gives us individual contentment? In what instances might we humans chase perceived abundance, only to encounter ultimate poverty?
Chadwick, H. (Trans., 2008). Saint Augustine: Confessions. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.