Thursday, July 03, 2008

Who Is Your Example?

Last night in our ladies class our subject was Living by Example. The teacher handed each of us a slip of paper. She asked each of us to write our name at the top, fold it in half and give it to her.

She then mixed them up a bit and handed them back out to each of us. There were about 20 in our class and not everyone knows each other(which is a shame) and we had a couple of visitors.

Our instructions were to list at least three things about that person that makes them an example. The person who got my name happened to be a visitor, and made only comments about what she had seen prior to class.

Mine happened to be pretty easy to list since the lady whose name I had often leads prayer, is a very pleasant person, a godly mother and grandmother.

We then talked about women of the Bible and the examples they are to us. We have books on the lessons we can learn from them. I can think of several women who were written about--Sarah, Ruth, Martha, the virtuous woman in Proverbs, Esther and of course Mary, mother of Jesus.

All this reminded me of an incident that happened when I was in a home economics class in high school. It was somewhere between my 9th and 12th grade years because that's when we were allowed to take that class. It seems we had a teacher who asked each of us to take a piece of paper and write something about one of our classmates. I don't know if we were to write a compliment or a criticism or if that's just what I chose to write.

It seems that one particular girl, her name is Donna(who happened to be a beauty queen, extremely smart, and very nice) recieved more than one piece of paper. One was from me. Many years later, in fact just in the last few years , she was talking to another of the girls who had been in that class, she mentioned the pieces of paper with the comments. She said she had recieved more than one comment and most of them weren't nice, but that the one I wrote was the worst. When this incident was related to several of us, no one remembered this happening. We must not have gotten pieces of paper with evil written on their lines.

This has bothered me for quite some time. I know I was a stupid young person. I know I did some dumb things. I know we spend much of our adulthood trying to live down the rediculous things we did growing up(and I had a lot), but I honestly have no memory of willfully hurting Donna. Maybe I didn't realize this(also evil) teacher was going to give them to the person about whom they were written. Did she not think that having grown up together we wouldn't recognize each other's handwriting?

I'm not trying to take away any responsibility from myself by blaming the teacher, but she had some culpability in this evil deed. And it was evil! I can think of no other way to describe it. We all say and do things that unintentionally hurt other people, but to take pen in hand and put something on paper, couldn't have been anything but mean.

I doubt that Donna will ever read any of my posts. I have little contact with her now. Thus apologizing in this forum, may be the coward's way out. But I truly am sorry for any emotional pain I caused her. I hope she has forgiven me the ignorance of my youth.

I don't get up each morning thinking I am going to try to be a good example today. In fact my daughters often chastise me for my behavior. I often speak when I should be listening, and leap before I look. But I'm trying to learn to keep my comments and opinions to myself. My mother, who was a wonderful example, used to say if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. I don't think she originated that pearl of wisdom, but I would have done well to have taken it to heart much sooner in my life.

So I think the moral to this story is to look to someone beside me for your example, and while I'm trying to be better, please remember my feet are made of clay. Maybe it will be better that you recognize and learn from my mistakes.

Who do you look to for your example? Tell me about them.

Have a great Thursday. Do something silly. Make someone laugh.


Lisa J said...

Oh this is easy. My best friend was my example. I loved watching her with her three children. She had issues with the kids and would have an issue with her husband, she was real. And what was amazing was how she handled things. No, it was not always perfect, but I watched her closely. She prayed about her issues, she turned to God for her answers. Yes she was human and made mistakes,had her flaws, but it seems when you have a person up on a pedastal you overlook those flaws. She was the one person I would turn to when I had issues with my kids or husband. I needed her to guide me through those rough waters that she had already tested. Her wisdom was so appreciated, her friendship was valued more than she would ever know. And she is missed more than I can tell you. It is still so hard to continue through life with out her. She was a very good example of a good wife, mother and grandmother, and yes FRIEND.

Me Maw said...

I have recently been reading about the life of Ruth Bell Graham. I think she was a wonderful example.

And honest to goodness she has engraved on her tombstone these words; "End of Construction; Thank You For Your Patience".

We, as christians, are all a work in progress. We all have regrets about past behaviors.

Isn't it wonderful we have a Great God and he forgives in a big way.

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