Seventy people applied for that job and I got it. The pressure was on.
I was 24 years old and the only female in an English department with seven men — all with many years of experience.
Boy, was the pressure on!
And I was scared of Grade Eleven’s. My limited experience with them the year prior — subbing during my spare period for one day — had been a wipeout. I went to the first day of that new teaching job with fear and trembling. And right from the beginning it was obvious I wasn’t in control.
By the end of the first week I had moved from scared to panicky. In the middle of the afternoon of another stressful day, I went to the English department’s workroom during my break and slumped into a chair in the empty room, barely able to hold back the tears. My head was in my hands when I heard the door open.
“Hello, Sister Mary Mercy,” my fellow teacher Maurice, said as he breezed into the room, dropping an armload of books onto the worktable. The men in the department thought that since my husband was a preacher, I must be like a married nun, so I went by a new ecclesiastical name every day according to their whim. I didn’t mind. It was kind of funny to hear the convolutions they invented: Sister Perpetua. Sister Baptista (I was a Baptist). Sister Speedy ( I walked fast).
“Have I interrupted your matins?” he asked.
“Matins are morning prayers,” I droned. “It’s the afternoon.”
“So what are you doing?” he asked, genuine concern in his voice. Maurice was the most respected teacher in our department. I was embarrassed that he so quickly picked up on my troubled spirit. But I was also desperate.
“I’m blowing it,” I confessed. “I can’t control them. They’re running away with the class.” I choked back the tears.
“I’ve only got a minute,” Maurice said, gathering up the materials he had come to fetch. “Let me ask you one thing — do you love them?”
“No,” I admitted with shame.
“There’s your problem,” he said very kindly. Turning on his heel, he was gone.
That brief conversation changed my teaching and my life. I called out to God for the ability to love those kids. And with his help, I did. And the students noticed. Every day it was a little bit better. The three “tough guys” in one class that made my life miserable in September were “bringing apples” by October and by Christmas they had pooled their money to buy me some carved praying hands bookends that I still treasure more than 30 years later.
What’s happening in your life right now? Are things working out the way you thought they would or does it feel like your world is spinning out of control? Are you scared of God, or mad at Him, right now because your life feels chaotic and He doesn’t seem to be helping?
Let me ask you the question Maurice asked me: Do you love God? He is no more the enemy than those Grade Eleven students were.
If you can walk back into the chaos of your life, like I walked back into the chaos of my classroom, with a different attitude — choose love instead of fear – you will see your life change, moment by moment, day by day.
The Bible says: There is no fear in love; instead perfect love drives out fear….We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 18a, 19) God proved his love for us on the cross when Jesus died. And if you will trust him with your life, he will prove it over and over again in the details of your daily living.
Giving your life to God for the first time is not hard. Say these words to Him: Jesus, I can’t make it on my own anymore. Thank you that you proved your love for me by dying in my place so I could live. I turn my life over to you now. Thank you for giving me the living Holy Spirit to guide me. Amen (religious word meaning The End).
If you just said these words to God (aloud or silently) you are now a follower of Christ. Tell another Christ-follower about your decision and ask him/her to show you how you can learn more about your new life.
If you want to give your life back to God because you have drifted away, it is also easy: Jesus, I drifted away from you because ____________(you may not know the reason yet; that’s ok). I choose to love you even though I don’t feel close to you right now. I am saying yes to you now. Lead me one yes at a time. Amen