2011-08-02 - My Fifth Grade Teacher
Teachers God Has Sent Me through the Years ~ Part 3
Philippians 2:4 (AMP) Let each of you esteem and look upon and be concerned for not [merely] his own interests, but also each for the interests of others.
This "teacher" is literally an educator, but the truth she taught me went beyond the normal mathematical formulas, spelling etc. In addition to believing in her students and encouraging us to do our best, she taught us Biblically-sound truth about life, truth that changed my life and my attitudes.
As a child, I grew up in a sheltered environment, with family and friends who considered it a loving favor, to protect me from the harsh realities of the world both past and present, to not disturb my idyllic childhood. But Miss A opened my eyes, when she introduced our class to the wonderful, life-changing (for many) book, "Uncle Tom's Cabin." I had no idea that people in our country had ever been held as slaves, just as at that time, I had no idea there were race riots going on, people denied admission to schools because of their race, tortured and killed by a terrorist organization (the Klan) etc.
Harriet Beecher Stowe's wonderful book (which I highly recommend) taught us not only of the horrible crimes and indignities inflicted upon people in the 1800s simply because of their color, but also inspired us with the stories of courageous, compassionate people who risked their own lives to help the slaves to freedom, via the Underground Railroad.
As with many others both then and even sometimes now, it wasn't a matter of not caring about other's pain, but rather not knowing about it. Once I knew, I cared. Miss A taught me that I should care about other people's pain, and that I should do what I could to help them. In my own little way, I went on to do that in high school, standing up for a friend who wanted to date someone of another color (and in so doing, being ostracized, myself and physically threatened by folks of both races). I tried to educate family and friends, and did my best to help them see through the eyes of others. I don't take credit for any of this; God gave me the fiery spirit, as well as the teacher who opened my eyes to the fact that there was pain in the world, and I could make a difference.
Today, I try to make a difference when I help crime victims (most of which are of "minority" color), and I wish I could tell Miss A what a difference she made in my life. But I can tell you, and I can remind us all, that there is always something each of us can do, to help those who are hurting.
God didn't intend for us to live a self-centered or cloistered life; His Son's servant leadership showed us the Way. And one of the best human examples that I have ever known, of was the late Henri Nouwen, who would often lose sleep at night not because of his own problems, but because people were going hungry etc. That really moved me, to think of him having sleepless nights because of other people's pain.
Of course, there is a difference between helping and fostering co-dependence, and our goal in helping others should always be (as was Jesus') to teach them to take care of themselves, and then go on to help others, as well. I encourage you to ask the Lord to show you whose concerns, pain, interests He would have you consider, along with your own.