28 Years Later
Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13
To fulfill a requirement to earn a middle school endorsement for teaching, I decided to take a necessary class entitled “Middle School Psychology.” It was a sixteen week class packed into eight weeks and strictly on-line. The first week we had three assignments. The first task was to introduce ourselves and post the information. The second job was to think back on our own junior high experience and write in depth what we were experiencing with regards to the social, familial, cognitive/intellectual, personal, and biological/physical domains for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade.
That first week I reflected on that time in my life, and many old memories resurfaced. As I pondered about my 6th grade year, I remembered how awful that year was. I wrote, “Intellectual/Cognitive- This was the worst school year. I struggled every night with my math class. I cried almost every night as my parents tried to help me. Their way of doing the homework did not line up with what my teacher was teaching even though they came up with the right answers, and I was caught in the middle. The reprieve came when the teacher had a baby, and the substitute taught in a way I could understand.” On Thursday of that week, I had written my reflections and relived many of the joys and pains of junior high.
On Friday morning, I checked the postings of the other students before going to breakfast with some friends. Shock overcame me when I read the name of another student who was THAT SAME 6th grade math teacher! This person was the one I was writing about, and the one who had caused a year of tears and pain. I immediately called one of my closest friends who knew me then. As we chatted about the unbelievable coincidence, I stated, “I have no idea what God is trying to teach me, but I know it must be something.”
That night I called my mom and said, “You are never going to believe who is also taking the same psych class.”
I repeated the statement to her that I stated to my friend, “I have no idea what God is trying to teach me, but I know it must be something.”
On Saturday morning I finished up the third assignment and began to work around the house before heading to my church’s ten year anniversary celebration. As I walked into my laundry room, I heard two words: “Forgive her.” I immediately knew what they meant. Forgive my 6th grade teacher for the year of pain her poor teaching caused me. In my mind a battle raged.
“I don’t have a problem with her. I have used this hurt for the good. I have used this hurt to be the best teacher I can be to my middle school students.”
I felt God say, “You DO still have a problem with her. This is obvious because you have a problem with her being in the same class as you.”
Then, I felt as though God said to me, “Have you changed in the past twenty eight years?”
I thought, “Yes. I have changed so much.”
God said, “Regardless of whether she has changed or not, you need to forgive her. However, do not put her in the box of your 6th grade wounded view. I have been working in her life these past twenty eight years as I have been working in your life.” I walked down my stairs promising the Lord that I would work on forgiving her.
Before leaving for church, I read the updated postings. One of the postings was from my former teacher:
You had wonderful literary references in your Discussion, and I always enjoy a Mark Twain quote.”
Had I not admitted my hurt, and my need to forgive her, I doubt I would have been able to freely accept her genuine compliment. I am so thankful for our God, a God, who uses an assignment to bring to the surface the hidden hurts from twenty eight years ago on a Thursday, brings the teacher who caused that hurt back into my life on Friday, and encourages me to forgive her on Saturday. That is a powerful God!
Gracious God, help us forgive. Amen.