A few weeks ago I sat in a room with three other people. One of these persons made it very clear to all parties included that they did not like me. It was supposed to be a complaint meeting from a parent and I was there to just listen in hopes to understand this individual’s complaint about me, apologize for any misunderstanding, and go back to what I do best. It turned out to be so much more than that. What I experienced over the next ten minutes would test my character like no other experiences ever have.
I am used to hearing nothing but glowing comments about my ways of reaching and teaching children of all ages, especially ones with special needs, so I was very surprised to hear there was a complaint about me. I am not boasting here, I just truly love what I do and I believe people can see that I do.
I’m not going to get into the details of the meeting, but at the end of the meeting, none of the complaints were valid and it was clear to see that my presence alone, is what made this person uncomfortable to the point that they felt the need to talk to me in a disrespectful manner. It took everything I had to not return what I was receiving, but boy did I want to!!!
After speaking with a close colleague of mine and doing some reflecting of my own, I had come to the realization that it didn’t make a difference how understanding, kind and caring I had been to their child over the course of the year. The individuals thoughts of me, as well as actions toward me came from a darkness. Yes, it came from a darkness that has been taught and feeds off of fear and hatred. It has divided people for centuries now and still lingers around like fog on the hillside. It is so deeply rooted in our history as a nation that I began to feel compassion for the individual, though I do firmly believe we should be responsible for our thoughts and actions. After all, they are ours. However, this individual was only repeating what they had seen, experienced and thought to be “right” on their journey. I must say, I respect that. I model what I have seen and experienced along my journey, but blessed enough to know what does not serve me and others in a harmonious way. This individual is obviously not there yet, but I still respect their journey.
As I said earlier, I wanted to fireback, but I had to tap into a different kind of courage; not one like I had summoned up in my past experiences. Finding the courage to fight back in this particular situation would have done no good for either parties and probably would have made the situation worse. I had to dig deep and summon up the courage to not fight back.
Like so many of the greats: Jesus Christ, Gandhi, Martin Luther King and even Jackie Robinson, I had to turn the other cheek. These individuals are my heroes. Their character spoke for them and so did their actions. They exemplified true courage; the kind of courage that brings people together, not push people away.
I am in no way close to being on the caliber of the people I mentioned above, but for just one brief moment I knew what it felt like to love thy brother even though they may hate you. Choosing to turn the other cheek filled me with peace. Though it may not be one to brag about, or even one that people care to hear about, it truly was a milestone on my journey and I wish that individual good luck on their journey and hope they see the light sooner than later.
You see courage comes in all shapes and sizes and will need to be summoned up in many different situations. You may need the courage to go after your dream. You may need the courage to leave a relationship if it no longer serves to be healthy and harmonious, or even the courage to stick it out and give it your best. You may need the courage to ask that girl or boy out you been admiring all these years. Perhaps you may need the courage to tell the truth or stick up for yourself. Maybe you will need the courage to go visit your family for the holidays(hahaha). Whatever you need courage for, make sure you choose the right kind….the kind that will bring peace to you and others.
I leave you with one of my favorite quotes about courage:
Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day,
“I will try again tomorrow.”