Lifting Weights

I taught high school mathematics and chemistry for a brief time.  Now, before the school year began, there was an orientation that lasted a few days for new students.  So, this was my real beginning with the students.  “Nice,” I thought.  “We’ll ramp up slowly.”

At that first day, a mother of one of the new students came up to me.  She said her family was from Lebanon, and her husband was not able to make the recent move with the family and wouldn’t be in Boston for a long time.  She said that her husband was an engineer and that her daughter Diana had an aptitude for math.  But, Diana’s whole life had been uprooted suddenly and she was having a very difficult time.  “Can you give her some encouragement and some words of comfort?  We are really struggling right now.  She really needs it.  It would mean a lot to me and her.”

So, when Diana came in with another new student, I did just that.  I told her that I was glad that she was in the class, that I was always available for help, and that we were going to get going and to be ready to work hard and learn and have some fun.  She seemed to be more cheery after that, and I was happy.

Well, shortly afterwards, the real first day of school began.  It just so happened that in Diana’s class was a student that – from that very first day – was trouble.  I mean, I tried everything with this student, but she was always confrontational, always obstinate.  I took her aside for private conversations and encouragement, I sent her to the office, I overlooked her attitude at times, and I forgave her and re-included her after every time she was disciplined.  She was never in a “doghouse”.  I helped her as much as, if not more than, the other students.  And on top of it, her attitude was like a cancer in the classes she was in.  It was eroding morale and my rapport with the other students.

About 2 months along, I was exhausted and tired with my first year of teaching and especially with handling this student.  Finally, about this time, I was explaining answers to a quiz when this student, not surprisingly, had a problem with one of the quiz questions.  “You never explained that in class,” she asserted.  “Here we go again,” I’m thinking.  Very reasonably and gently, I explained that I had covered it the previous day.  “No, you didn’t – I was here and you never said that.”  “Please, Lord, help me,” I thought.

But before I could respond, a hand went up in the class.  In fact it was right in front of her.  See, Diana’s seat was right in front of this girl’s seat.  She had been a witness all year to everything.

“Yes, Diana.”

She turned around to her classmate, and as I stood in awe, she said loudly and firmly, “He is right.  He did explain it yesterday in class.”

She turned back around confidently.  Silence.  The whole class was stunned.  Did she just do that?  Our troublemaker stewed in her embarrassment.  Me?  My only thought was, “YES!!  Y  E  S  !!!  Thank you!!”

I calmly moved on to the next quiz question as if nothing ever happened.  But the greatest thing had happened.  A huge weight was lifted from the class and peace settled in.  It was never the same.

Diana spoke the one thing no one else would say, the one thing everyone was waiting to hear.  She was my witness and my advocate.  I will never forget her.

When the Lord gives us His Spirit, He gives us the ability to proclaim the truth and bring about peace: “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.”  (Jn 14:26-27)

With His Spirit, we have an Advocate.  With Him, we can speak the things that no one else will say, the things everyone is waiting to hear.  With Him, we can lift weights from the world and bring true peace.  With Him, the world will never be the same.

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