I Can’t Go Wrong

102_3462 The beginning of that school year was the beginning of my career as a special education teacher. I was twenty-two years old, just beginning to put my knowledge to the test. Looking back, I didn’t know near as much as I thought I did. Isn’t that the truth for most of us, when we were in our twenties? Big on ideas, not real big on life experience.

The morning was underway. Attendance had been taken, and learning groups had already begun. Bobby*, a sixth grader, wasn’t there yet. He was late. The classroom clock ticked off the first moments of the school day. The door opened and in walked Bobby*. He came up to me, eyes averted, and mumbled something about being late. I, in my own naive youth, abruptly replied to him with, “I understand you are late to school, but it is important for you to be on time. Now you are going to be behind this morning. Hurry up and put your stuff in your desk, so we can get you in your group.” My teacher mindset appreciated punctuality and I wanted to get that across to him, but Bobby* wasn’t finished.  He looked at me and said, “I’m sorry. Last night, with all the rain and wind, the living room wall caved in. I was up most of the night with my Daddy putting tarp up, so our stuff didn’t get wet.”

Tears began to well up in my eyes. I looked away. Now it was my turn to mumble an apology. This poor boy, who was a good student, and had a tender heart, after a difficult and stressful night, now had to listen to his teacher gripe at him. He had helped his Daddy. He was doing important work to save his family’s house. I felt badly about my cavalier attitude, not comprehending what it meant to live in a house that was weather worn and crumbling.

I learned a lesson that day, one that stuck with me. I learned a lesson that didn’t just apply to my career in teaching, but to life. Things are not always what they seem, in fact many times, we only skim the surface of what is going on with people. We often jump to our own conclusions about others because it is more convenient.

And that is wrong….. so wrong.

None of us is perfect, and most are fighting battles that others know nothing about….because of this, I can’t go wrong treating everyone with kindness.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 NIV

*Bobby is not my former student’s real name.

Sweet To The Soul

A hug.

A pat on the back.

A high five.

“Good job”

“You did it!”

“Awesome”

You rock!

“That is the best, ever!”

“Just keep going!”

“One more time!”

We all need encouragement….

Encouragement from others can make  the difference between us:

Holding strong or giving in.

Making it work…or giving up.

Earning a diploma…or calling it quits.

Running the race…or sitting on the curb.

Getting up in the morning…or pulling the curtains shut.

Trying again…or not.

A little encouragement can mean so much to the one who needs to hear it.

Gracious words are a honeycomb,
   sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.  Proverbs 16:24  NIV

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Who can you encourage today? How can your words be “sweet to the soul” of another?

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Seeing With Different Eyes

“Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” — The Golden Rule

“Whatever you have not done for the least of these, you have not done it unto me.”—Jesus

Kindness begets kindness.

And the greatest of these is love…..

It’s easy to love the lovable. I smile at the lady at the grocery store. I wave at the man who drives his truck down our road. I chat with my friends. People that look an act like me…people that love me back.

God calls me to more than that. So many times there is no real effort on my part to step out of my comfort zone. Sure, I like to think I am a good person. That I go the extra mile for people. But do I? Really?  If I am completely honest with myself, I have to admit that no, I don’t. It’s difficult. It could be messy at best…and painful at worst. I don’t have the time for this. But, that would be a lie. I always make time for what is important to me.

When most people think of prejudice, I believe they think of skin color. But, really there is so much more to prejudice then that. Honestly, skin color is not even on my radar map. That particular thing is not something that I, personally,  have any issue with. And that is the truth. But that is not all there is.

Do I have preconceived notions (prejudices) about the unmarried woman with five kids, all by different fathers? Do I believe Jesus loves her any less than He loves me? What about the young man dressed all in black who looks scary? Did Christ die in his place? Or the man who claims there is no God? Who is angry because his child has to say “one nation under God” at school? Or the woman who buries herself in buying  her “things” because she is empty inside?  And lately, what about the people who disagree with me on politics? How do I treat these people? Do I love them with Christ’s love? Or do I show my prejudice? I can’t deal with “these” people. They are a mess. I don’t want to get “dirty”.  I don’t care what they think. They’re wrong……..and with that, my own prejudice echoes back to me. And it isn’t pretty.

Yesterday I was convicted about my attitude….about how I need to change my thinking. The lady with five kids? Maybe she is looking for love in all the wrong places, because she’s never known the love of her Heavenly Father? Maybe the boy dressed in black is, in his own way, desperately trying to make a statement that he is HERE. “I’m not invisible. Look at me! Please SEE me.” The atheist who is fighting against God is a man on a sinking ship…and the One who can rescue him is the One he fights against,  the wealthy woman with all the things in her closet might be the same woman who looks in the mirror and never feels worthy enough….because she looks at herself with the world’s eyes, and not with the eyes of her Heavenly Father, who sees her potential, and one for whom He died.

We all live in a fallen world. Life is not easy. There are people that need a friend. A mentor. A confidant. Someone who will share the burden with them. Someone who will look past the facade to see the person. Someone who will take the time to build relationships….and step out of her comfort zone.

Jesus looked on people with compassion. He was never afraid to get dirty. He talked with the highest scholars of his day as well as the shunned of society. He wasn’t afraid of tax collectors. Or lepers. Or the disabled. He loved the unlovable. The prostitutes. The possessed. The lonely.

My prayer needs to be, “Lord, help me to see others as you see them. Allow me to be your hands and feet. Love them through me. Amen.”