Trails of Grace: Mrs. Brown

I’d say I was probably a pretty typical (dumb) boy growing up—I didn’t really think things through, usually just acting hyper and stupid and irresponsible. At the same time, I seem to recall being fairly well liked by most of my teachers and was probably given more latitude than was good for my soul.

Enter fifth grade and my social studies class. We had a rather large assignment where we supposed to prepare a presentation for one of the states. We were given several weeks to prepare this, with the understanding that the project was a large portion of our grade. When the time to start the presentations came, I watched other students give their presentations, completed with research and frequently with poster boards and the such.

Well, my family didn’t own any encyclopedias at home. And this was obviously before the days of the interwebs. So, in some part of my ten-year-old brain, that struck me as an insurmountable barrier. Thus, when my turn came, Mrs. Brown called on me to give my presentation, we had a conversation that went something like this:

Me: I didn’t do it.
Mrs. Brown (after a very long pause): Why not??
Me: Because we don’t own any encyclopedias.
Mrs. Brown: Why didn’t you just go to the library??
Me: Oh. I didn’t think of that.
Mrs. Brown: Well, I’m going to give you a zero for this assignment since you didn’t complete it by your due date.

I say this was part of God’s grace to me because it was the first time I remember really ever having to take responsibility for a dumb decision I made. What’s still funny to me is that I really thought it was okay that I didn’t do the assignment (which, consequently, really does help me in parenting two boys who are both around that age right now!). Regardless of how dumb tween boys are, this was so important to me because Mrs. Brown didn’t make excuses for me or extend my deadline. I was given an assignment with a deadline, and when I missed it, there was no, “aw, shucks, Billy, that’s okay”—there was simply the consequence of not doing the work on my side to overcome any obstacles.

So, I give thanks to God for Mrs. Brown, who taught me that I have a responsibility not only to meet expectations, but also that many of my incredibly reasonable excuses were really just lame. It stung and I deserved it and (as you can tell) I never forgot it.

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Trails of Grace

Here recently, I’ve been thinking more and more about the different people that God has weaved into the tapestry of my life that have shaped me in significant ways. These folks have left trails of grace in my own story (and I suppose I’ve done the same for others, though I wouldn’t really ever know methinks). And pondering the impact these people have had has made me realize a few things.

First, I tend not to think much about my past and the way that God has shown me grace. I tend to be very forward-oriented, much to the neglect of seeing the many acts of kindness and mercy God has shown me in the past. Second, I’ve not really ever expressed me gratefulness to many of these people. I’d really like to change that. Third, I’m incredibly prideful and tend to think of myself in terms of all I’ve accomplished on my own, as if I don’t stand on the shoulders of the many people who have invested in me. Giving credit to the folks who have loved me over the years will hopefully humble my big-headed self-aggrandizement.

So, in that light, I’m starting to write several posts that will detail the trails of grace through the people God has placed in my life. Some have been believers, some haven’t–but all of them have helped build me and were gifts from the Father. I look forward to doing something very different for me, especially in writing: reminiscing and giving thanks.