I studied to be a music educator and part of my education was the semester of student teaching. My school for this assignment was a big, 5th-8th grade middle school.
It was drilled into our minds in college to not “play favorites.” This seemed obvious to me, and for the most part, as I started student teaching, it was easy to do. But no one prepared me for that one super obnoxious kid. That one kid who always has a mean thing to say, never listens, and is generally just…obnoxious.
I struggled with this one particular kid because I wanted to treat him the same as everyone else, but he was so irritating to me, that I looked for times to give him a detention or lower his grade. I was ready to snap at him for the slightest misconduct in class.
During my student teaching, I met regularly with a professor from my campus. She gave me the assignment to shadow one of my students for the entire school day to see what their life is like as a student and to also see how other teachers conducted their classes. I immediately thought of some of my best students who I would enjoy shadowing. But my professor had other ideas. Yes…she told me to shadow that one, obnoxious kid.
So, I did. I dreaded it so much, but when I showed up at his first period class to meet him for our day of shadowing, he was a completely different kid. He was kind, he was polite, and he was a little gentleman. He said, “Miss Happersberger, thank you for choosing ME, to write your college paper about.”
I was shocked. Here, I had spent most of my student teaching experience making life miserable for this one, twerpy kid. But, so many people in his life treated him like the obnoxious kid that he was just waiting for someone to love him and treat him with kindness.
This was a wake up call for me as a teacher but also as a person. How many people in my life do I pass off as annoying and don’t show them the kindness and love that Jesus strictly taught us to do? How many people who really need love and kindness do I look down my nose at? Jesus showed us through his actions to “love the least of these,” “love your neighbor as yourself,” and “love your enemies.” What if I started to actually live like this?
I challenge you to join me in trying to love the obnoxious ones, just the way that Jesus did. We won’t be able to do it perfectly, and it will be hard. But, it is what Jesus calls us to do.
by Susan Gali
“Jesus said to him, ‘”You must love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest of the Laws. The second is like it, “You must love your neighbor as you love yourself.”‘” (Matthew 22:37-39)
Jesus, Help me to love even the obnoxious ones in the way that you have shown me to do. Amen.