Turning the other cheek, bearing wrongs patiently, and choosing to be kind in moments of anger are all well and good when thought of in the abstract. In the particular moment when any of these are called for, a flood of excuses and defenses are more likely to come to mind rather than the goodness of following the Lord.
I try really hard to not let any personal dislike of students color our overall relationship. Some people are just harder to love and students are no different. I am well aware that I am not the easiest person to get along with for all people and all personality types. The same is true with the people seated in my classroom each and every day.
It is hard, however, when I make great attempts to overlook personal slights, strive to forget previous negative encounters in the pursuit of answering present questions, and other like situations, only to discover that they already don’t like me. That instead of seeing how I try to patiently attend to their present concerns despite the fact that they repeatedly laugh at me, they only see that I have not always responded favorably toward them.
A flood of defenses came to my mind. I replay the conversations over in my mind and I wonder if I had said this instead of that, perhaps it would have been received better. Or, if I’m feeling particularly cantankerous, I’ll think of all the sharp barbs I could have thrown or the harsh yet true things I could have said but did not. It isn’t a one time occurrence, but each time it happens, it strikes me anew.
It seems unfair and it seems unjust. And perhaps it is both.
Welcome to the end of Holy Week.
Tonight, we will eat the Last Supper with Our Lord and then follow Him into the garden to wait. Tomorrow, we will walk the road to Calvary and we will, despite our best intentions, cry for Christ to be crucified. On Holy Saturday, we will wait in the awkward tension between the death of Jesus and His subsequent Resurrection. It is in the light of the Triduum, these holiest of days, that I consider the small inconvenience of being misunderstood by students.
Jesus remained silent in the midst of terrible accusations and unjust treatment. His patience and forbearance was limitless. Mine, on the other hand, is quite limited. The other day, I recalled a snippet that said mercy (misericordia) is a heart attracted to the misery of another: I prayed for a merciful heart. Jesus is teaching me something here, something that can only be learned by following Him on the Way of the Cross, however small my way might be.
In the midst of feeling misunderstood and thinking of responses I could have given, I surprised myself by praying. You know, where sin abounds grace abounds all the more and the Lord gave me the grace to respond to His nudging to pray. And I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if I prayed every time I thought of different students or different classroom experiences. How might it change my heart toward them?
As you seek the Lord’s heart over the next few days, through the intimacy of the Last Supper to the sorrow the Garden of Gethsemane to the horror of Golgotha to the silence of the tomb, remember that His human heart has fought through and conquered all sin and every evil. Being human, He knows the experiences of the human heart through and through. It is our misery that attracts Him to us—which is really good if you are anything like me.
Lord, help me to sit with You in the garden, to follow You to Calvary, to remain at the foot of the cross, and to wait for You in the tomb. Show me how You are working in the gardens, crosses, and tombs of my life to bring forth a more glorious Resurrection than I could ever imagine.
Thank You, Jesus.
Photo by Steven Kamps on Unsplash