I spend a lot of time online. I am a home-body at heart, and I love to be in my own room surrounded by my things and feeling safe. Sometimes I lock the door, not from fear of anyone coming in but just because I can. When I go out, it is usually to enjoy time alone in a different place. Social time is planned and spontaneous events can make me unsettled.

But I’m constantly seeking fellowship and community. I’m an active member of two web forums, I read and comment on dozens of blogs and indeed write three of my own – this one, a journal read mostly by family and friends, and a recipe blog which is seemingly not read by anyone! My heart leaps to see a comment on one of my posts or a response to a comment I left on someone else’s.

Blogging is starting to seem like both a blessing and a curse. I want to read about other people’s lives, to picture myself living in them and to figure out what I hope to achieve in mine. If you were to flick down the list of blogs I follow, you would quickly realise what my interests are: cooking, parenting, home-making, homeschooling. It is the last category which is causing me the most heartache.

Most homeschooling families are American. Most are Christian. Most American Christians, as far as I can tell, are far more vocal about their faith than British Anglican are. They don’t simply believe it over there, they live it out loud. I’m envious and admiring, but I’m also wary. A similar thing has happened to me so many times. I read about a situation or belief or view that is common in the USA and my mind boggles. I think “those people must be crazy”, or “that is so American“. Then I read a bit more, and I start to wonder whether maybe they’re on to something. And then I run around in loops inside my mind, trying to work out what I think.

This sort of cultural assimilation has led me to some views I feel are firmly founded, and some which I realise, when I shake myself to clear my head, are totally off the wall for me. For example, the conviction that I wish to educate my children at home has only grown stronger. The various methods and techniques that I have read about offer up their strengths and weaknesses to be considered and analysed over time, but I am unwavering in my hope that life will pan out in such a way that I will be a home educating mother.

Other things, however, have turned out to be passing fancies or (more dangerously, to my mind) sudden veers from the path I have been set on. For a while I considered whether I was sinning daily by choosing to wear trousers, ride a bicycle and fasten up my hair. I started to think about changing my wardrobe to be filled with ankle-length skirts and modest cardigans. And then I thought about the people who I admired most for their faith and accountability to God. They all wear trousers. They all leave their arms uncovered in warm weather. None of them have ever breathed a word to suggest that their faith is rooted in their wardrobe. And when I pray for mercy and compassion, it isn’t what I’m wearing that is at the front of my mind – it’s what I’ve done, or said, or thought. That problem, after some careful consideration, was an easy one to lay aside.

There are more complex issues though. The homeschooling blogs which I read so eagerly are almost all written by women who share a broadly similar perspective, both culturally and religiously. They believe that homeschooling is a responsibility from God, they teach creationism and God-centred science, they talk about discipleship and praying over every detail of their day. Although they debate issues such as fecundity, parenting styles and curricula, they do so with a shared assumption that there is a correct, Christian way to decide each matter. It all seems very, well, American – and I don’t feel that America has the monopoly on God.

Basically, until I began reading these blogs I had never encountered anyone who placed their faith at the centre of absolutely everything they did. Or perhaps I don’t mean quite that, because of course I have met people whose relationship with God was the root of every action they took. It is what I try to achieve, although I fail every single day. But I have somehow found myself observing and occasionally engaging with a community which constantly professes its faith to itself, and seems to tangle up issues which I would consider purely cultural with issues which are universal to Christians. I’m finding it difficult to figure out whether I am hearing God’s voice speak to me through these blogs, or whether I’m just being drawn to the bright flickering light of a reassuring hive-mind.

After all, America is a kind of strange place. Many of the faith-related issues which occupy so much of their media and attention, such as the right to choice over abortion or the teaching of evolution in schools, aren’t even on the agenda here in Britain. Over there, being a Christian is an absolute necessity for any presidential candidate. Over here, faith is seldom if ever brought into political campaigns and in fact it’s sometimes concealed for fear of alienating people. I don’t know that I think that’s a good thing – but it is the society I have lived in for more than two decades now. And it’s the society I will be raising my children in. What works in Alabama or Tennessee is not necessarily what will work in Yorkshire or Berkshire.

And really, I am jumping the gun here. Dreaming about my future is one thing but worrying over my choice of science curriculum for home educating a child who has not even been conceived yet – it sounds ridiculous even to me. Not only am I not pregnant, I’m not even in a relationship. In fact I’m probably the furthest from a relationship that I have been since my early teens. I am not dating anyone, sleeping with anyone, daydreaming about anyone, pursuing anyone or being pursued by anyone. I have made a decision, fraught with difficulty and reluctance, to accept that the right person will come into my life at the right time and that if now is not that time, I can’t hasten its arrival by making bad choices. My duty right now is to study, to look after myself, to work hard in my roles as a student, a chorister, a tutor, a volunteer and a friend, and to trust that God has it all in hand. He doesn’t need to read 36 different blogs to know where my path is leading, and I won’t find it out by reading them either.

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