I gave him a detention for typing something inappropriate into his graphing calculator.  Understandably, that made him upset.  As class progressed, I had them work in partners and he was not interested in doing anything I asked.

It is your fault you got in trouble, I thought to myself, as I watched him sulk.

Each of the partners was responsible for give part of the response to the rest of the class.  His partner went first and then I asked for him to give the rest of the answer.  It was brief and visibly filled with bitterness.  It was enough to qualify as disrespectful and I narrowed my eyes slightly as I deliberated about what to do.

I didn’t want to let disrespectful behavior win out.  But then I had a moment of considering his perspective.  He had just received a detention and was frustrated with me and probably himself.  If I sat in his position, I would also be upset.  I realized that maybe it wasn’t sensible to assume that he would just continue on in a perfectly pleasant attitude.

It isn’t much and I’m light-years behind the saints, but in that moment I was able to acknowledge his humanity and adjust my expectations.  I don’t think I would have responded just as he did, but I could understand why he was behaving this way.  My eyes warned him, but then I moved on with class.

The next day, he no longer seemed sore over the detention and he was volunteering to answer questions.  While the exchange and deliberation only took a few seconds, I was thankful that I handled the situation as I did.  Sometimes I forget to take into account the humanity of the other person.  I expect people to be far more perfect than I am and then I get frustrated when they fail to live up to my impossibly high standards.

I’m working on being merciful and letting humans be human.  Clearly, I’ve got a long way to go.  Pray for me.

Blessed are you because you have made me glad.  It has not happened to me as I expected; but you have treated us according to your great mercy. (Tobit 8:16)

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