As she turned her back to leave my classroom, her vicious and heartless words hung in air as my jaw crashed through the floorboards below.
I only had a few minutes before nearly 100 students would arrive for music class so I shut down my emotions and put a smile on my face. #theteacherlife
As my hands rested on the steering wheel some 8+ hours later, the dam of withheld emotions gave way and flooded my Honda Accord.
“Only weak men cry” our society barks to the masses and that’s bullshit.
Lemme step up on my soap box right quick:
STOP APOLOGIZING FOR YOUR EMOTIONS. We were created to feel and love deeply; it’s a sign of strength, not weakness.
okay. phew. I feel better.
As I pulled out of the parking lot, I cried out to God like a millennial Psalmist:
“I am overwhelmed God. I am so tired. I am so sick of dealing with these $!*$&#&!@#&$ people!“
What do you mean I haven’t been hired to write the sequel: The Psalmist Strikes Back?
During my bump and grind commute the next morning, I aggressively gripped the steering wheel while rehearsing my big, revenge speech. I would walk into her room and explode into my loud public declaration of every terrible thing she has done over the past five years. This was my moment.
Be a man. Stick up for yourself. Fight back.
But as I pulled into the parking lot, a new wave of emotions blew across my face like a cool summer breeze. The anger melted away and something like compassion found its way into my furious heart.
How powerless she must feel to attack someone who wants what’s best for kids.
How lonely she must be to tear down a man who is endlessly trying to make the world a better place.
How lost she must be to constantly attack at every turn.
I often hear that I am too tender-hearted. I take things too personally. I am too gentle and I don’t stand up for myself. I am weak and scrawny.
And perhaps sometimes this is true.
Yet, I know I want my life to carry the melody Jesus composed for us.
Although lost on some Christians, Jesus’ song is not a bloodthirsty punch-to-the-face; it’s a beautiful song of love and compassion.
Suddenly, while still sitting in my car, I realized Jesus’ MOST ANNOYING words:
“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you.”
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Love my enemies? Are you freaking kidding me. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Then God showed me something I didn’t want to see: this woman—while awful in her word choice and general people skills—was not the root of the problem.
The core issue was within me.
I was still harboring a list of wrong-doing and avoiding her at all costs when God is clearly calling all of us to move towards those that need Jesus the most.
You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you. -Matthew 5:46-48 (MSG)
So today my friends, I challenge you to find the true strength that resides within all of us to love and forgive even the most unlovable people in your atmosphere. While the world may nenever understand, we know this beautiful truth:
True strength is displayed through love.
Decide to let your biggest struggle bring out the best in you—not the worst.
You’ll never be fully and recklessly alive if you embody anger and hostility. Instead, choose forgiveness and finally release all the bitterness within. freedom from the bitterne
Still in the school parking lot, I started my car and drove to the nearest extravagantly overpriced coffee house. Stepping up to the granite countertop, I guessed the coffee desires of this hurtful teacher and handed over $6 of my hard-earned money. I walked into her dark, empty classroom and looked around. I gently placed the coffee and a note on her desk.
“Have a great day. Let me know if there’s anything else I can do to help make your situation better. Here if you need me.”
I nodded my head in gratitude for Jesus and his annoying words.
A version of this post was originally published in December, 2015.
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