In the third grade we had a teacher, Mrs. Gage, at Rock Canyon Elementary School in Provo, Utah. I wasn’t in her class, but we rotated to all of the 3rd grade teachers for specialty classes from time to time. On one such day I was to read something before my peers. I was really self conscious then and having lost my front teeth in a bicycle accident only compounded my image issues. While reading, I tripped up on the word “magazine.” There was a ripple of snickering in the class. Mrs. Gage came and stood close to me, walking me through the word’s proper pronunciation. After class she again helped me say “magazine” correctly. And a couple days after that, she reconfirmed the lesson until both she and I felt confident that the correct pronunciation was imprinted on my mind.
This endeared her to me. I was so wanting of approval and attention that I even felt protective of her.
Mrs. Gage happened to struggle with obesity. I wasn’t confident enough to stand up for her when her weight was a joke among the kids, but it stung me enough to remember it. I felt a commonality with her as I was teased for my missing teeth. I also remember now, to my shame, thinking that Mrs Gage should have eaten less so that she wouldn’t be teased.
One day in her class, I can still remember the heat of embarrassment on my face when, due to an outspoken comment from one of my peers, Mrs. Gage gave us a lesson on judgement.
She spoke with kindness. I’m sure it was hard for her, but she addressed us in such a way we couldn’t feel defensive. Her tone eased into our hearts. She expressed her love of her body, how amazing bodies are, and how bodies are not all the same.
Her body had an ill functioning thyroid. She explained what a thyroid was and how thankful she was for the medicine, and that the medicine and her thyroid had the side effect of weight gain.
We kids saw her weight from the perspective of being taught to earn our fitness badge. We saw it from our own experience, our own perspective. I learned that day a different way to see weight, that I should not assume that obesity was a fault, and that extra weight could even be something an individual could be thankful for as it could result in improved well being. I learned a new perspective.
How often do we hear or see something that we don’t understand? Or assume something to be terrible, wrong, awful, misguided to the extent that we feel the urge to say something to correct another?
I’m going to guess daily?
I have a rule for myself. If there is a different point of view, before I speak out on that, I must seek to understand the foundation of that opposite view point. Then if in my asking questions, the foundation is abhorrent (like sexual attraction to children) then I can speak out. But if I find it’s simply a difference of politics, then I thank the other for teaching me how they see things. Thanks to Mrs. Gage I learned that how I see things may not always be correct. Though I can pronounce “magazine” now, such a quick read or view of another may not be giving me the full truth.
I edited this from the Image Creator’s intent, with no intent to judge another, as we don’t do that here. You can’t simultaneously judge others and serve them. You can give a handout in judgement, but you cannot serve from the heart while judging another.