Last week I attended my first workshop as a teacher. I found that it was very similar to trainings I had done while working for Child Protective Services. It was formal, but helpful. Oh, did I forget to mention that I am a teacher? Yes, you read that right, a teacher. In between the sleepless nights of a newborn last fall, I was taking courses online to get my teaching certificate. And now, here I am, 5 weeks away from my first year as a high school English teacher.
Anyway, at my workshop last week, I got there a few minutes early, chose a seat at a semi-empty table, and sat down. It was a large conference room with three projection screens, two in the front and one on the back wall. The lady at the table with me was a very friendly second grade teacher. She has been a teacher for 10 plus years. So, the workshop begins. We got instructions for the first activity and the instructor started the first video. Maybe 10 minutes or so in, I hear the door behind me open and I’m suddenly aware that a person has sat directly next to me. We finish the first video and I finally turn to find a very petite blonde women to my left.
Thoughout the morning, I learn that she also teaches high school English. She gives me several novel suggestions, and shares some insight (she has been teaching 11 years). Lunchtime rolls around, and I was saying how ridiculous it was that we had an hour and a half for lunch. I kept thinking in my head, they should just shorten our lunch and let us leave 30 minutes earlier (I had an hour and 20 minute drive, my dad and his girlfriend had flown in from Ohio, and it was my 3 year-old son’s birthday).
We broke for lunch and petite blonde invites me to have lunch with her. I hesitated for a moment, because I am the kind of person who packs their lunch, I had just assumed that I would get Subway and come back to the room. But, something inside me urged me to go, so I said yes. On the short ride to the restaurant, we made small talk about our kids. She has an eight year-old boy and a nine month-old son. I apologized profusely for the state of my car. When we got to the restaurant, we both ordered the same thing.
Have you ever been mildly aware that the question you are about to ask may not be a good one? Then, the moment that your lips form the words and they come spilling out of your mouth, you are immediately embarrassed of your mistake? Well, that happened to me, at this very second. I was squeezing lemon into my water and I nonchalantly said, “So, eight years between kids, y’all waited a while, huh?”
BAM. The expression on her face told me right there that I had indeed messed up. Please forgive my interruption here, I was only asking because I have a 15 year-old stepson, a three year-old and a one year-old. I thought maybe her oldest was a stepson or hers from another marriage. It is sometimes easy for me to identify with others with blended families.
This was not that situation. She wasn’t hurt or very thrown-off from my question, which led me to believe I wasn’t the first person to make this mistake. She simply told me a heart-wrenching story of loss, hope, heartache, and unconditional love for Jesus. I will not share her story because I honestly feel like she should write a book. IT WAS THAT INSPIRING. I will say this, at the end of what she told me, my soup was cold, my heart was touched and I was bawling like a baby in the middle of the Jalapeño Tree. I looked down at my watch and we only had 15 minutes before our “ridiculously long” lunch break was over.
As I was driving home after the workshop, I had some time to reflect. I felt like God had put my new friend (I’ll call her D) in that room with me that day. I felt like she was supposed to tell me that story. I am supposed to carry that with me, as a daily reminder that as bad as things may be, HE is still there with me. We don’t always understand the things that happen in this life, but that’s because we aren’t supposed to.
D- I have thought of you every day since we met. Thank you.