I’ve recently joined a Facebook group made up of people who went to my high school in the ’80’s and ’90’s. It has been fun to reconnect with old schoolmates and remember some things I hadn’t thought about in years. In one thread, we’ve been discussing memories from our elementary school years, and it reminded me of something I have thought about often through the years.
In about the fourth grade, I had a teacher who, as I look back over the years, made a big impact on my life, and I’ve often wished I could contact her and thank her, but I don’t know how to do so. Anyway, one day as we were sitting in class doing some desk work, I remember us kids talking, like kids do, and I said something unkind about someone else. Word got back to the teacher about what I had said, and she called me over to her desk. I was mortified, just sure I was in trouble. However, she very kindly, very gently told me a story about how she had known a girl when she was in high school who she hadn’t been very friendly with and who wasn’t the most popular kid, but later they ended up going to the same college and living on the same floor in the dorm. She told me she and this girl ended up being really good friends, and how she regretted not being kinder to her in school sooner because she missed out on those years of being friends with her. The point was, be kind no matter what. I felt then, and still to this day feel ashamed of what I had said that day. I don’t even know why I said it. I didn’t mean it, and I was being a dumb kid.
As I’ve thought about that incident through the years, I’m so thankful for how kindly my teacher handled that situation. She could have just scolded me in front of the class, but she chose to make it a teachable moment instead, and I remembered it. Forever after that, it made me think before judging or dismissing someone unkindly. Even at that age it helped me to realize it’s not all about me. Everyone has a story. I believe the Lord used that teacher in my life to begin chipping away at my prideful little heart, because as I look back, wow, I sure did have a lot of self-centeredness going on, even in fourth grade. I’m thankful for that teacher’s influence in my life. She probably doesn’t even remember that day, I’m sure there were lots of moments like that in the life of an elementary school teacher, but I have never forgotten it.