That was the year I learned to love my family best, to value my mother’s friendship, and to heed my father’s counsel. That was the year I became a second mother to my twin brothers. I learned to surrender my time to accountability and to listen to correction. I learned the depths of my own depravity, and the vastly greater depths of the Lord’s grace.

The second good thing that came of this year was that all the reading did pay off. Though my focus on reading for fun was wrong, God eventually allowed the time spent with good books to be redeemed. Fresh thoughts—old ideas now new to me—filled my waking hours during that year. I kept my hands busy, but my mind was far off from the mountain of laundry or the simmering potatoes. The Great Conversation is now more familiar to me because I immersed myself in so many classics of great literature that year. Ideas still delight me—and new ones fit with the bigger context in my mind better than they would if I had only done the assigned textbook reading. 

It is true that many of the things I read and learned on my own that year can be found in a rich, well-designed curriculum. However, interest-driven learning often makes a deeper impression on the memory and shaping of a student’s education than a set curriculum. I technically squandered that school year, and later had to learn diligence as I doubled up on some subjects to make up for the lost time. But what I learned in the “wasted” hours has proved to be more valuable and memorable than the other things I studied.

Providentially, my failures in discipline and studiousness made way for character and worldview lessons. My transcript isn’t perfect and I technically lost that entire school year. But grace in the midst of real life found me and set my perspective on priorities off-kilter from the mainstream and helped me set the priorities of God for my life—maturity, love, good works, faith—above those society has ordained for the high school years. God looks beyond the transcript. He wants my heart (1 Samuel 16:7).

Hännah Schlaudt is a student at Grove City College where she is the junior editor of The Quad Magazine. She may also be found climbing trees or standing on her head. Grace, light, and words intrigue her, and she wants to be like Amy Carmichael if she ever grows up.