The other day I received a foreboding email from one of my children’s teachers.
She asked me to come in that same day so she could talk to me, but not to worry, my kiddo was doing great.
Regardless of the assurance tacked on to the end, my stomach turned in knots and that good ol’ fight-or-flight sensation swept through my body.
I spent the next four hours obsessing over what it could be.
Two days before, we had launched into a new study in our small group at church. “”40 Days of Community”. I have many thoughts about this particular study, and maybe I’ll write about it sometime, but I clearly remember a moment from our first day when we were watching the accompanying video.
The author, Rick Warren, said something to the effect of, “Your ability to love will be tested over the next 40 days, so be forwarned.” or prepared, or ready, or I promise you. . . . Anyway, you get the idea.
Maybe he didn’t intend it to sound ominous, but to me it did, and my responding thought was, “Uh oh. . . . ”
Because I’ve been around the barn enough times to understand that loving people isn’t always rose petals and salt water taffy. It’s not always easy, and sometimes the people we’re meant to love are not the easiest people to love and the situations are downright difficult.
His comment placed a lingering cloak of back-burner worry over my shoulders. What was it going to be?
So as I was walking into school for this meeting, my stomach churning and fighting with itself as I made my way to the classroom, the words “This is your chance to love” came clearly to my attention. “Uh oh. . . . ” I thought again.
I felt the anxiety of anticipated conflict well up inside me as my body prepared to hear what “problem” we were addressing today. I tried to prepare to be a grown-up, to hear what had to be said without overreacting, to stay calm and think things through in a rational way and respond to everyone involved respectfully; to stand up for my child if need be, but also to be able to hear, with humility and honesty, if there was correction necessary.
I hate moments like these. I don’t do conflict well.
Why I went down this rabbit hole, I don’t know. I kept reassuring myself that the teacher had clearly told me, “Don’t worry. _____ is doing great!”, so this shouldn’t be bad.
But you know, I guess we go there anyway.
When I walked in, the scene was two teachers and another mom.
They all greeted me cheerfully, warmly. . . as though nothing were wrong.
After the small talk died down, and I had discovered the mom sitting next to me was suffering all the same emotions, the teachers told us why we were there.
They need a little extra help in the classroom.
We burst into laughter.
Other Mom and I laughed until we almost cried.
We had both been so preoccupied with what might have been wrong that we hadn’t even stopped to think that it might have been something like this.
And if that doesn’t look like icing on the cake after thinking your kid is trouble, I don’t know what does.
So, of course – because I never overcommit and always say yes to only those things I can handle – I said yes. (thickly layered sarcasm fully intended here).
But this has my wheels turning too. If this is my chance to love, then who am I going to be loving, and is it going to be easy or hard?
I hear the words echoing, “Your ability to love is going to be tested . . . . ”