A student called me a bad name in class the other day. His word, this awful name, was flung at me out of his frustration with my request for him to stay on task. He didn’t want to do his work, he wanted to listen to his music. Out of his aggravation, he called me a racist. I was devastated. Only by my dramatic reaction did this boy realize the weight of his action. His arrow was cast casually, tossed in my direction without any real awareness it would strike right at my heart. His word pierced through me, took my breath away and left me speechless. My thoughts swirled around in my head like a tornado, “is this what this boy really thinks of me?”
After I dismissed the class, I broke down crying and I could not stop. Finding refuge in another teachers room, I explained what had happened through uncontrollable sobs. My colleagues reasoned that this boy didn’t know what he was saying, “don’t let this bother you, we know that word doesn’t describe you”. While their words attempted soothed my emotional injury, I had a very difficult time regaining my composure.
Why did this name I was called shake me at my very core? Does it devastate me because it is so far from the truth, or could it be painful because it is closer to the truth than I want to admit? To find some understanding to my heartbreak, I must ask myself these very tough questions. Why couldn’t I stop my emotions from overflowing, this pain in my heart from hurting, with rational thoughts. I am not a racist, I do not believe any one race to be better than any other. My Father in heaven created all his children equal.
In my search to find the answer to my devastating reaction in being called a racist, this is what I came to rest upon. Mine is not a choice between whether or not this young man’s word described me or that it couldn’t be further from the truth. I believe the painful impact that this arrow had on my heart was because it is with this heart of mine I love so deeply the very child who said it. And if he called me this name, I must not be living out this love to the fullest.
This boy is a teacher on my path. He is a beautiful child of God. I am grateful he is in my world. I hope that he can forgive me. I promise I will do better.
Post Script: Later this day, I received a very heartfelt apology from this young man. His father was beside him as we all sat together in the principal’s office. He stood and looked me in the eyes and said he was sorry he called me that name, that he didn’t believe this about me. I rejoiced as I accepted his apology. I told him that I believed in him.
The walls that separate us are coming down.
Joy to our Father in heaven, from Him all blessings flow.