My mother and me
When I was growing up, I hung onto grudges, which may turn into bitterness and anger. I did not know differently as I’m just one generation of many who held onto real and imaginary wrongs done against me.
Let me give you a brief backstory before I tell you the story I hit upon for the word prompt.
On the first day of class on the first trimester of my freshman year in high school, I had a teacher that seated everyone alphabetically. This, unfortunately, placed me in the back of the class. I needed to be close to the front as I am deaf and read lips.
I went to this teacher between classes and politely asked to be placed up front and gave her the reason. Her exact words to me “I’m sorry, I cannot help you. I’m not a special education teacher”. It was all I could do to remain calm and not blow my top. I simply told her that I didn’t need help. I just needed to be placed up front of the class. She refused.
I then went to the school’s office and tried to change classes; but, the school officials said that I could not as I never had this teacher before. I must have had the teacher once before I could request a class change. So, I was resigned to my fate. I did tell my parents that I was destined to fail that class that night and explained why.
I suffered sitting at the back for a couple of days before one day a miracle seemingly happened. She fussed and moaned about how I messed up her perfectly good system all the while seating me up front. And, she told me that she will not pass me. In other words, she intended to fail me. I was helpless. There was nothing I could do. She made my life miserable. I was stuck with her as a teacher.
One day, the principal came in to substitute teach. After class was over, he called me out and loudly exclaimed: “So, you’re the one giving our esteem teacher trouble”. I calmly replied with “Yes, I am” and quietly walked out. I knew then that I would never have his support.
I was angry with this particular teacher. I was angry at the principal for taking her side. I was becoming bitter against her. It made me especially angry that she was so supported, esteemed and worshipped simply because she brought acclaim to the school through her coaching efforts.
Let’s go to the story I really want to focus on. And, here it begins.
I had a teacher in the next trimester who I came to like very much simply because I was not invisible to him. He noticed I broke the typical pattern concerning grades. I consistently made Cs. Nothing more or nothing less.
This teacher called me out in front of everyone on this pattern of mine as he returned tests. I asked him point blank what’s wrong with that? He explained most kids will make a good grade, a bad grade and then a good one — up and down a curve. I was a flat line of Cs on the graph. He then stated to me that I better make a B on the next test. So, from then on, I consistently made Bs. Nothing more, nothing less.
He became flustered and enormously amused by what I have done. He then demanded that I make an A on the next test. And, what did I do? I made an A. He threw up his hands and didn’t know what to do about me.
This same teacher overheard me talk with bitterness and anger about this other teacher. He looked me directly in my eyes and stated along the lines of “hatred, and bitterness is like being on a treadmill. Your mind and heart are always focused on them. So, you’re just going around and around never going forward or moving on with life.”
What he said to me that day turned on the light within me. I understood what he was saying and he was correct.
That was the day the familial pattern of holding onto grudges was broken. I purposely and intentionally let go of my bitterness. There was nothing I could do about the situations that occurred in the past. All I can do is move forward and place my focus elsewhere. It was extremely freeing.
I thank God that this particular teacher was placed in my life to teach me a few important valuable lessons.
To this day, I have to consciously and consistently relinquish the things I find myself holding onto that may turn into grudges and/or bitterness. After all, the familial cycle isn’t all that easily broken. It’s okay to have these feelings. But, it’s a choice to either hang onto or release them.
Bitterness imprisons life; love releases it.
Harry Emmerson Fosdick