Friendly Teacher Inspires Gratitude
March has brought me an assortment of days that have been lovely to look at, with its beautiful array of cherry blossom trees and tiny, bright birds flying all around. One day, I was in the parking lot of my daughter's school waiting to pick her up after school. As I sat in the carpool line, the sun blinded me; it was so shiny and encompassing.
As I let my mind wander and drift away into pleasant thoughts, my eyes suddenly shifted to Mrs. Hay, as she guided the passing cars to their place in the carpool line. Mrs. Hay is one of the nicest, sweetest, friendliest people I know at the school. I really don't know Mrs. Hay, having only exchanged quick hellos with her in the morning. What I do know is that she takes the time to smile and wave at me. Every single day. That simple gesture makes me feel warm and special, like I matter to her.
When I saw Mrs. Hay, I started thinking about how much I like her and how I’d like to repay her kindness. What if I make her a stuffed pillow for her sofa? Would she like it? What if I bring her some flowers? What else can I do to show my appreciation for her friendliness?
Joining a Mothers Group
Once I started thinking those thoughts, my mind did an instant flashback to an incident that happened four years ago. When my oldest daughter was 2, I joined a few local mothers' groups hoping to connect with moms and get playdates for my daughter.
There was one group in particular that I was excited about joining. This mothers' group was international and boasted an impressive website with listings of mothers' group chapters all over the world and in all 50 states. I thought to myself “Wow, a group that is international surely will be good for us!” Famous last words!
After joining, I started noticing that many mothers were expecting babies and were at various stages of their pregnancy. For some reason, I felt drawn to the expectant moms. I wanted to do something special for them. I was so happy to connect with the expectant moms because I knew that I would form good friendships if I planned and gave them baby showers. This thought was contrary to acceptable social norms, I know.
The Baby Shower Idea Backfires
The creative fiend in me uncoiled and helped me draw pictures and diagrams and lists of details on how to plan all of these baby showers. Such fun! I knew I would have the support of everyone in the group — after all, the baby showers were for our members, so automatically, everyone would be on board with my brilliant ideas. Not quite.
I communicated my plans to the group’s president and explained how I thought it would be a great gesture to give these moms the baby showers. She didn’t agree with me, but I pressed on.
For whatever reason, I took on the whole baby shower planning personally, even though none of these people were really my friends. I distinctly remember telling the president that if I didn’t have her support, I would proceed with my baby shower plans anyway. She wrote me back and declared that I was being hostile and defensive. She made me realize that I was demanding to do things without good reason and that I would not be supported in my efforts.
My waiter agreed with the mothers group president, but he did not whip me with words of judgment. Instead, he served me a lean cut of potato pie with a bright, shiny fork.
The Symbol of the Fork
The potato pie tasted good, but I focused on the shiny fork. The fork, with its separate tines and sharp, pointy ends and distinctive shade of silver symbolized everything that was going on in my life — my thinking was different than that of other mothers; sometimes, my words were sharp; but I always stayed true to my colors.
The metallic shine of the fork was not tarnished, and neither was I. I knew that I would come out of this incident with good lessons learned. God had allowed me to go through this uncomfortable exchange of words because he was trying to tell me that my participation in groups was not the best choice in my life.
Faith has taught me that God will not actively pull me out of painful situations, but he will always be there to catch me when I fall off my perch, like a bird who tries to flap his wings independently, and try as he may, he can't fly just yet.
The incident with the local mother’s group would be one of many instances in my life where I would try my hand at being a member of a group, voicing my opinions, trying different strategies to play nice, and being unsuccessful with it. And that is okay.
Thankfully, the experimental and faithful part of me has always turned the other cheek and tried, tried, tried, and kept trying, never stopping, but pushing forward to try harder and do things better.
Have you ever tried to do something repeatedly, and time and time again, you weren't able to? Did you rely on faith to get you through it?