Learning From My Students

words are like seeds

She brought her tray outside and sat next to me at supper and my heart melted. I don’t consider myself a brilliant conversationalist. In fact, ‘introverted’ describes me to a T. But I’m learning.

Talking to girls has always been more difficult for me than talking to boys—maybe because when I was her age, I was a tomboy and never really fit in with the girly conversations that washed around me in awkward social settings.

I met her years ago when we had first moved to a new job. My husband had weekend duty (I hadn’t started working yet) and he brought 15 boys over to hang out in our shady front lawn. I stayed inside, in my comfort zone and baked cookies to give to the guys.

And then she showed up with three of her friends and wanted to use our bathroom. “Sure,” I said, “the house looks like a tornado hit it- we haven’t unpacked.” Like a school of fish they proceeded to dart around our disaster zone. She opened every cupboard and drawer and inspected every room.

I sputtered inwardly, but didn’t want to offend her—a young girl from another culture. “Your house looks really pretty,” she told me. I smiled and nodded. It may have been more of a grimace.

When Pedro told me she had been assigned to our faculty family, I groaned. When she came for the first faculty family meal, she met our oldest daughter and her boyfriend. “Which room is yours?” she asked my daughter, who proceeded to show her where she slept. “Does your boyfriend sleep in here, too?” she wanted to know.

My daughter looked aghast but managed to answer, “No, we’re no married, so we don’t sleep together.”

“Does he hit you?” she asked.

She didn’t last the school year. After a fight with her mom she tried to take her own life.

But she came back. In the intervening years I learned that coming alongside someone in pain might just mean a smile and silence. Sometimes it means engaging in conversations and building bridges.

I had another chance to share God’s love with her through my actions and my words. And so I sat and smiled and waged awkward conversation and prayed that the Holy Spirit took my efforts and turned them into just the words she needed to hear.

I am learning to hold my judgements and let go of my misconceptions. #fmfparty Click To Tweet

Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a ‘recovering cancer caregiver’ who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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  • This is a lesson I too am learning in recent years. We just don’t know, do we? Amazing Grace is a sweet sound. So thankful that God extends it to us and we can extend it to others…I pray you’ll follow the Holy Spirit’s prompting and that she’ll see your light of Christ shining and that you’ll give her words of grace that can take root in her heart. God bless!

  • Ah, my friend, this is holy work. You are a safe person for this girl. Keep pushing through the awkwardness! I have no doubt that it blesses and encourages her.
    Marie recently posted…Five Minute Friday: LearnMy Profile

  • How funny! Just got notice of your comment on my blog about the retreat Anita! My FMF post followed yours.

    • 🙂 It’s nice to ‘meet’ you! I haven’t seen you around before–I’m so glad you made it to the retreat and joined twitter :).
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…Learning From My StudentsMy Profile

  • Tara

    Anita, you are a gift my friend! Continue to follow the Spirits leading and be that light shiner for her.

  • Interesting what kind of people God puts into your lives. We thought we teach them, and yet we got so much to learn from them. Keep investing! Keep teaching! And most important, keep learning!
    Katha recently posted…[Five Minute Friday] LearnMy Profile

  • denise

    great lesson.

  • Anita, wow. It’s rarely comfortable to come alongside someone in that much pain. But the blessing of offering a smile, a listening ear, words of life? The blessings are deep. In some ways my life looks like a neat package when I read of stories like this one. Of course, appearances are deceiving. 🙂 But, I love that you’re willing to be open to walk alongside this young lady. May God fill you with HIs peace as you do this.
    Jeanne Takenaka recently posted…Learn: The Best LessonsMy Profile

  • you have learned what i have had to learn over the years too! i’m more of an extrovert but maybe not a extroverted as i once tho’t! my testing comes out borderline. conversation doesn’t come easily for me either…mainly b/c i want to talk about issues of the heart when i first meet people and it is a huge turn off. i have to dial it back:)

    i actually had to learn how to do small talk:) asking questions helped. i learned it isn’t a waste of time, but builds relationships. who knew? 🙂

    loved your post!
    martha brady recently posted…LEARN FROM ME FOR I AM GENTLE…My Profile

  • Marie, is right. VERY HOLY WORK.

    God bless you, friend.
    Susan Shipe recently posted…five minute friday: learnMy Profile

  • Everyone comes in to your life for a reason, as they say. And not everyone has had the same opportunities as we have and their behaviour is a reflection of their lived experiences. Thank goodness she was able to know you and you were able to shine a light for her. {Your FMF friend}