I recently watched a video a friend shared on Facebook by Jay Shetty. He was speaking about the people that come into our lives and the various ways they come into our lives. There’s people we have for a season, people we come across for a reason, and people we have for a lifetime.
The people we have for a season are special. We enjoy wonderful times together, but eventually that season ends. I was thinking about the majority of my friends from high school here. I was never “in”. Actually, I’ve never been “in” whether it was the basketball team or friends from youth group/mission trips and school. People that are in our lives for a season of life often take something from us, but they may not give it back to us.
An example of this is an individual that struggles horribly with anxiety, depression, and obsessive compulsive disorder. We were pretty close for 3.5 years. Every time this individual needed to talk, even if it was 2am, I would talk to them. I urged them to see a psychologist and be compliant with the anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications they were prescribed. I invested a ton of myself into the friendship. I found myself in a position to escape an abusive environment, but they chose to “defend the bully”. It’s been 4 or 5 months since I last heard from this person. I have still have them on social media and I still have their number in my phone. But I’ve realized the season is over. They’ll call or text me when they need something, but when I need something? Forget it, I don’t even ask.
Then we have the people we come across for a reason. It can be mutually beneficial or fairly one-sided. These people teach us, help us develop as people, and support us when life knocks us down and repeatedly kicks us. I can think of three good examples of people that came into my life for a reason; all of them teachers. My 4th grade biology teacher, my 5th-7th grade language arts teacher, and my 10th-12th grade history/psychology and sociology teacher.
My 4th grade biology scared me to death. She could be very mean and short-tempered some days. Other days, she seemed fine and some days, she would frequently be absent. I had tremendous anxiety about going to her class and by the time Christmas break rolled around, my mom realized I couldn’t take it anymore. So she invited the teacher to lunch over break and we all sat around and enjoyed some good conversation. After lunch was over, my mom explained the real reason why she had requested that my teacher come over. I was absolutely terrified for this discussion, but it would be one of the biggest lessons I learned about dealing with difficult people my whole life. A lesson so large, it’s still sticks with me today.
Honestly, I thought she was just plain evil. I mean I was in fourth grade, so if people were mean, they were just plain mean. As it turned out, she had some very complicated medical conditions that caused her to be in varying amounts of pain and often required her to take off. She too had anxiety and her pain often led to the fluctuations in her mood. I remember all of this is going down and finally feeling a sense of relief that there was a reason why she was the way she was. As it turns out, this kind-hearted teacher wanted to learn more about me too. She knew I was a good student with hearing aids, but not much more beyond that. She learned that I loved American Girl dolls when I showed her my precious collection, reading, and soccer. The lesson I learned that day was priceless. Everyone is the way they are for a reason. Sometimes in going the extra mile you can learn why someone is they way they are and that understanding can lead to better understanding of the other. In understanding the other, we can better understand how to communicate. In the years since, I’ve learned that not everybody is willing to open up even a little to make the ability to understand them easier and that I have to accept it and move on. Sometimes moving on is really hard to do when there are multiple friendships at stake and only one of them is toxic. Thank you for helping to teach me this valuable life lesson Mrs. O!
Some of the harshest lessons I’ve learned in school came from my middle school language arts teacher. She was the school disciplinarian and “head” of the locker searches. The most important thing she taught me was how to be more organized. There was a lot of “tough love” involved here. My locker was searched daily. My planner had to be used and signed by my parents daily. And if I turned in an assignment that was even slightly wrinkled, I would lose points. I hated her with every fiber of my being and it didn’t get much better when I was not only written up for “lying”, but when I was given after school detention WITH the bully that caused the incidence that led to my only pink slip, detention, and reduction in conduct grade ever. My detention was physically painful for me. I had to sit (as a 5’7” 6th grader) in desks intended for 3rd graders. My legs had to be under the desk with my chair pushed in and back straight in my chair. Then I had to stare at the cross for 30 minutes. If my eyes even moved off the cross before I was told I was allowed to look away or I moved my folded hands from the desk, I was told my 30 minutes would start again at the next day’s detention. One problem, I had to hyperextend my neck to see the cross because I had to look straight up. Because I didn’t have my Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome diagnosis yet, my neck was hurting terribly and hyperextending my neck like that makes it harder to breathe. It was so awful and I was not allowed to move in any way to massage my neck muscles. Years later, she would find out I was indeed innocent. She taught me how to be organized (so organized that others have sought me out to help organize their lives over the years. She inadvertently taught me that sometimes you have to pay the consequences of others’ actions and sometimes doing the right thing only means you’re going to get in trouble for it (even if you aren’t responsible).
My high school history, psychology, and sociology teacher is honestly one of the most extraordinary men I’ve met in my life. He taught me to truly believe that everything happens for a reason, that every life has a purpose, every challenge has a meaning, and life’s challenges are all about how we respond to those challenges. He taught me to ask the hard questions that maybe don’t have an answer and most interestingly, he taught me just how powerful music is as a teaching tool and way of understanding life. The interpretations of certain music that he taught us taught me about some of history’s biggest messages for us and how they can be applied to life lessons. I learned how to live life in that class. I’ll never need to know calculus, art history, music theory, how to diagram a sentence, or the importance of zeroes and ones in computer programming, but I will need to know how to handle myself in life. He taught me Life 101 and I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else to teach me it, nor would I want anyone else to take my baby blue high powered hearing aids. His extraordinary wisdom is THE most important set of lessons I learned in all of high school.
As those teachers were put into my life for a reason, I have probably been put into others lives for a reason to teach and help them. I wouldn’t know exactly who that would be, but I’m pretty sure it’s happened more than once.
And then, we have those people that are in our lives to help us learn, grow, laugh, cry, and experience life. These are the most precious and “limited edition” people we have in our lives. They see us through it all without judgement or conditions. They want to see us happy, healthy, and successful, but if we are failing in a important responsibility or area of life, they will show us the path back. Because my life is so darn complicated, few friends stick around very long. The ones that do are true friends though and are not afraid to hold me accountable. It’s quality over quantity with this third kind of person.
Link to the original video: