A distance-learning lesson in humility

When parental frustrations about distance learning came to a head, a teacher felt affronted. But she soon found that the most productive, healing approach to the situation was to let God, rather than self-justification and ego, inspire her response.

One of the geniuses of God – and I’ve found there are many! – is that divine Love always shows us when there’s more for us to learn. This includes gently guiding us into a deeper understanding of God and His love for us. I recently experienced how this gentle guidance can encourage and support qualities that help bring harmony to situations.

I am a kindergarten teacher and, like so many of my fellow educators, feel full of love, patience, and compassion for my students and their families. But these new and uncharted times of distance learning have brought unique challenges and frustrations. One evening my cellphone was lighting up as a string of text messages poured in. Some of my fellow teachers were discussing some social media posts by some parents at our school that expressed unhappiness and anger about distance learning.

The lists of complaints went on and on. It felt very personal, hurtful, and upsetting, especially since one of the most outspoken parents had a child in my class. Initially I wanted to reach out to this parent and justify my position by listing all I had done. But I knew that we were all, parents included, doing the best we could. By the time I went to bed, I had decided to just let it go.

But come morning, I woke up ruminating on the situation. It was clear to me that genuine healing was needed. I have often found prayer to be very helpful in troubling times, so I knew I had some spiritual digging to do!

Going back through my mental arguments with this parent, I immediately realized that each of my points started with “I.” It hit me full force that I needed to gain a deeper sense of humility.

A Bible story about humility came to thought. A great man named Naaman had leprosy, and summoned the prophet Elisha for help (see II Kings 5). Elisha instructed him to go wash himself in the Jordan River. Naaman felt insulted by this; he felt Elisha should at least send him to a better river than the Jordan. But Elisha had discerned Naaman’s need for greater humility, which ended up being a key part of the healing that followed. When Naaman finally did go to the Jordan, he emerged healed.

I realized that we are all God’s children. Our Father-Mother God loves everyone, including each parent and teacher, tenderly and completely. In fact, our real, spiritual nature is the very expression of God’s love and care. Wouldn’t it be more helpful, then, not to get caught up in self-justification but rather to acknowledge God’s view? Replaying events and having mental arguments do not lead to healing, and isn’t that what we all want? I certainly did! But instead of approaching the problem from a God-inspired, healing perspective, I was coming at it with ego and willfulness, like Naaman.

This revelation stopped me in my tracks, as I had never thought of myself as needing a lesson in humility. But as I prayed, our tender, loving God gently showed me that the one true Ego is the Divine, and we can never go wrong letting this Ego – God, good – lead us!

Desiring to remove fears about distance learning and the new territories we were navigating, I humbly asked God, divine Love, what He wanted me to do in my “classroom” that day. As I listened for Love’s always-present inspiration, an idea for an email to all the parents flowed out. As I wrote, I felt patience and humility, along with a spiritual love for all the parents, God’s beloved children, shining right through.

I heard from nearly every parent that day, each expressing gratitude for the message – including the one who had initially displayed such anger. While she continued to express her frustration, she acknowledged that the understanding and concern in my email had lessened it. And while it’s not always easy, the spiritual lessons I learned from this experience continue to help me in my work.

Whatever type of discord we see, be it physical, relational, emotional, or otherwise, we can find more harmony and healing by turning to God and following His loving guidance.

Editor’s note: As a public service, all the Monitor’s coronavirus coverage is free, including articles from this column. There’s also a special free section of JSH-Online.com on a healing response to the coronavirus. There is no paywall for any of this coverage.

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