Friday, August 6, 2010

Faceplant

My day started off beautifully. I slept well, I woke up early, I prayed, and I felt compelled to work on my book proposal, which I've honestly been dreading. It's scary! But I prayed over it, and the right things to say just kinda happened. It was wonderful!

Then my son woke up, and he was in a great mood. We had some delicious toast and shared a banana, and we got dressed and started our errands for the day. Our first errand was my Weight Watchers meeting.

It felt like a swan dive into an empty pool.

I almost felt my face hit the dry pavement. My son was acting up, I gained 1.5 pounds (which was my just desserts for not writing my food down this week. Pun intended), and it was just a bad outing altogether.

Now, I don't typically feel that bad when I gain a little. It could be anything—water weight, heavier clothes, a big breakfast. One and a half pounds isn't shattering. The problem was that my morning had been going so well. The previous three hours were magnificent! It only took 10 measly minutes to change my entire outlook on the day.

Whyyyyyyyyy?

It's amazing how we can have so many positive experiences—so many wonderful things happen in the course of our lifetime—but, for many people, it's the negative experiences that stick with us.

I was a teacher for a short time. I didn't even make it through a single school year. Granted, there were a lot of bad circumstances in the school, and there were a lot of reasons I left, but my kids weren't really one of them. I loved the kids. Most of them loved me. They confided in me, they gave me hugs, and I feel like most of them learned something during class. I hope.

But there was this one day—I can't get it out of my head, and I still think about it every day. We were having a conversation about Jesse Owens and how he was treated because he was black, despite being a world-class athlete. We got into a big discussion about race, and I thought it went really, really well. The kids opened up to one another and to me, and it was incredible. One of my administrators came in at the end of the day, and I was still psyched about it. This class of kids who acted like they didn't like each other actually had a meaningful conversation! It was exciting!

My administrator said, "Yeah, about that. I got a phone call from a parent, and she didn't like something you said." I had used a phrase incorrectly in the discussion, and all the kids went home and told their parents. It was something we'd talked about in all our diversity training before the school year started, so I thought I was being revolutionary in discussing these things openly with my class. Yeah, well. I said something wrong. Despite what I thought was a great discussion, that's what they remembered and that's what they took home.

I was a white teacher in a predominately black classroom, which hadn't bothered me (or the kids, it seemed) to that point. But it sure bothered the parents after that. I felt so, so horrible about it. We had to have this big meeting with my class and the administrator to clear up what I had said and make sure the kids knew I'd used it incorrectly. I never intended to hurt anyone's feelings, especially these great kids who were being so open with me and with each other.

One conversation. Maybe 30 minutes. Only a fraction of my teaching career, but that is what I think about. Every. Single. Day. The kids forgave me. It was like nothing ever happened, and everything was normal afterward. But, still, I think of that massive failure and hope it hasn't had any lasting repercussions for my students. It feels like the biggest faceplant of my life, and I can't get it out of my head.

Did I learn from it? Of course. Will I ever forget it? Doubtful. Will there come a point where I don't think about it daily and feel my heart break along with it? I sure hope so. That was almost three years ago now. Whenever it pops into my head, I try to pray it away and ask that it stay down for a while. But it always comes back up. Always.

So what to do? Our lives are a series of good and bad experiences. Typically, the good far outweighs the bad, but sometimes it seems one bad experience can weigh as much as ten good experiences.

I think we have to just get rid of the weight. We have to hand it over to God and let him deal with these things that weigh us down. I know Jesus was talking about sin when he said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." But he's willing to carry any burden for us. He can bear it far better than we can. It requires a lot of prayer—perhaps a level of prayer that I haven't quite reached for yet. But it's possible. We just have to hand it over and be willing to live a lighter life.

So, my day is looking up. Now that I've blogged about it and prayed about it, I feel my load getting lighter (even if the scale didn't agree this morning).

What's weighing you down?

1 comment:

  1. ((Hugs))

    It isn't about always doing things perfectly...its how you handle the bumps in the road.

    Sounds like you handled the issue with professionalism and grace. Did you ever think that the kids might remember how you handled the situation instead of the situation itself? Sounds to me like you taught them a wonderful life lesson that day.

    And the 1.5 lbs this week? use it as your motivation for next week. :)

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