One thing I remember about Miss O is she was shaped as just that: an O. But her roundness is not what stands out most in my mind.
It's not that Miss O was particularly fun, or funny, or one of my favorite teachers. In fact, as far as favorite teachers go, she would probably be towards the bottom of my list. But I've discovered that God uses circumstances, usually unpleasant ones, to teach us lessons we need to learn.
I wasn't always the angelic saint I am now (said with much sarcasm!). In fourth grade, I was quiet, shy, not a big trouble-maker. That's why I surprised even myself when I lied to Miss O. We had just taken a test on which I had - er - cheated. Gulp. How Miss O discovered this fact, I have no idea. But when she confronted me, I panicked and did the only thing I could think of at the time to save myself. I denied it. And Miss O gave me the benefit of the doubt (boy, was I good).
There was only one problem. I couldn't live with the guilt. The minute I got home, I spilled my guts to my mom, silmultaneously cleansing my conscience and draining my tear ducts.
I thought it would be enough that I confessed. But no. My mom had this great idea that I should go admit my lie to Miss O. I didn't think it was such a great idea; in fact, I thought it was a TERRIBLE idea! I suddenly felt myself coming down with something. Perhaps it was the chicken pox - because that's exactly how I felt at the moment: like a big, fat chicken.
I did end up apologizing to Miss O, who patiently and lovingly heard me out, then mercifully forgave me. But I vowed never to get myself into a situation like that again.
And I didn't. Until High School.
I repeat, I wasn't always the do-no-wrong, little angel I am today (again, sarcasm!). In high school, I did some things that were not right, nor very nice. For a brief period, I stole things - gasp! - yes, as in kleptomaniac! Every morning during Chapel, a few girls left their purses in the bathroom. Why not? After all, it was a Christian school! One morning, I somehow felt compelled to help myself to a twenty-dollar bill from one of them. And I got away with it! I was thinking about everything I could do with that $20.
Until my friend, Helen, told on me.
At first, I couldn't believe it! Helen was my best friend and she had betrayed me! What a nark! My punishment ended up being three days of in-house detention. Of course, I also had to confess to the girl from whom I stole, which was by far the hardest part. All the memories came flooding back to my fourth grade experience of having to humble myself and apologize. However, my pride was much more developed by then and apologizing at seventeen was much harder than it was at ten.
What amazes me is that Helen and I remained friends for a long time after high school. Her explanation for ratting me out was that she was trying to be a TRUE friend. Once, a friend had told on her for stealing and Helen said it helped her grow. It took me a while to process and understand that concept but when I did, it amazed me even more that she was right. Believe me, I never stole again! I now feel privileged to have been one of Helen's first students, since she did go on to earn her teaching degree. Today, we live in different states and have lost touch but the lesson she taught me remains.
I've concluded that Miss O and Helen have a lot in common. That day in fourth grade, Miss O was the perfect example of mercy and forgiveness. The day Helen told on me, I learned a lot about tough love. Together, they taught me how both extremes are necessary for me to develop into who God wants me to be.
And to think if I hadn't learned that important lesson, I probably wouldn't be the picture of perfection I am today (ha!)
Read more articles by Lynda Lee Schab or search for articles on the same topic or others.
I very much enjoy your style of writing. Wisdom and wit can be are hard balance to achieve, that is why I steer clear of it in my own attempts. :) This piece is generationally (I believe I just created a new word. LOL) neutral; it can apply to readers of all ages. Thanks for using your great talent for the Lord! - Nancy
I'm sure that the same guilt that plagued you in fourth grade also plagued Helen until she told on you. Thank you so much for your very salty mix of humility and humor. I agree that they do go quite nicely together. "You are the salt of the earth. Take heed that your salt does not lose its saltiness..."