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

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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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