Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Step On The Line
This weekend I heard that a fellow classmate of mine had died. I don't know how. I really don't know anything about him. I remember Mark from our days in elementary school. I will never forget him. And sadly, I will never forget how I treated him.
I was a good kid. But I wasn't always the kindest kid. In elementary I was aware of people who were different from me, different from my friends. And Mark and his sister? They were the poor kids. They were the kids who didn't dress like us. Didn't look like us. Total outsiders. And the ironic thing is, I was a kid living with a single mom barely making it. I was a poor kid! Maybe that's why I wasn't too nice to this brother and sister--because it made me feel better about myself, about where I came from. Because it sent a message to my friends that I was one of them--our clique--and not like Mark.
This weekend I saw the movie Freedom Writers. It's a great example of a school and community defined by differences. In Mrs. Gruwell's class she had various racial and ethnic groups that HATED one another. Obviously it caused a lot of problems. So one day she tapes a line down the center of the room. And she begins to read off statements, saying if this applies to you, step on the line. These kids, who were so diversely different, found themselves toe to toe with their classmates and enemies at every statement. They began to see themselves as more than a member of a certain gang, more than a color, more than an ethnic group. They were people--people who shared the same hurts, the same fears, and the same desire for something better.
When I became a teacher I got a new perspective of students. I saw how teens looked at each other vs. how I saw kids now as an adult. It's a totally different view from the outside looking in. When I was younger I saw characteristics that automatically put someone in a particular clique. I saw people by hair, style, shoes, home, car, family life, etc. Now? Now I just see potential in every teen I teach. And I see commonalities such as pain, loneliness, suffering, love of laughter, a desire to have someone care, a need to be acknowledged. I wish I saw those similarities when I was younger. I wish people had held me accountable and said, "Hey, you're being a total jerk." I wish I hadn't used hurtful words that might've been etched on Mark's heart when he died.
Whereas the object and purpose of our instruction and charge is love, which springs from a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith.
1 Timothy 1: 5
What would life be like if God judged us with the same check list we used to judge others? Through his grace and mercy, He doesn't. And not only that, but He commands us to love others and treat everyone--even those who aren't like you--with love. It is part of our purpose here. It's part of sincere faith.
As you go about this week--or the rest of your life--remember you have more in common with those around you than you think. Be the girl who makes the difference. When the time comes for God to ask us to step to the line, will you be the girl with regrets or the girl with righteouness?