Confessions of a Quasi-Pelagian Sometimes I look back to my homeschooling years with serious longing. I only homeschooled for grades 11 and 12, but I don’t think I’ve ever had it more “together” in my life.
One of the things that had attracted me to homeschooling in the first place was the promise of sovereignty over my time. When people remarked that homeschooling would require so much discipline and motivation, I looked at them, not understanding the issue. (Admittedly, I was the kind of kid who cleaned my room for fun.) When it came to getting things done – I’ll be shamelessly colloquial here – I killed it. I devised an airtight schedule that allowed me to glide through my musical pursuits, score high on my AP and SAT exams, and keep up a social life.
On top of all of that I managed to graduate early. Bizarre, I know.
While I’m probably idealizing the experience, the thought that in staying home I had made a mistake never crossed my mind. I’ve always liked to do things myself. If you have a Type A personality, you know that the thought of being in control of your life is the ultimate seduction. Today’s world seems to be made for you. You’ve cultivated the contemporary cardinal virtues – “ambition” and “hustle” and “will power.”
You can be more productive, more diligent, more creative than the next person. When you get inspired, you crack open your Day-Timer or Google Calendar. Even now, you’re most likely chomping at the bit to lose yourself in your work again. Just one more thing before you close this tab to organize your closet —
You might be a bit of a Pelagian.
Pelagius was a 4th-5th century thinker who believed that humans don’t need grace; we just need to work harder. While I doubt that any of us would explicitly deny divine intervention and the workings of grace in our lives, there have probably been occasions when we’ve implied that kind of belief in our behavior. We have built up our imperial selves, with the insistence that everything depends on us. What’s that quote from John again? “I must increase…” Wait… I admit it, I have the tendencies of a Pelagian. So, last summer I took some paint, wrote “Everything is Grace” on a canvas, and surrounded the words with a profusion of color. It’s a little reminder that when things don’t go my way, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are mistakes. Every moment is essential in the unfolding; every bump and blemish crucial to a beautiful existence.