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Joyce settles in to a chair next to me.
I am thrilled to see her…but also apprehensive.
It’s been a month since The Incident.
And I don’t know what she’s going to say.
Joyce supervised my internship (which I did in lieu of student teaching) my first year as a teacher.
She was in my classroom the day I introduced my husband, Daniel, to my students as their guest lecturer for Bible class. “After all,” I quipped, “he knows more about sin than anyone else I know!”
At the end of his lesson—which included intricately-designed overhead transparencies of a “sin cycle” and “heal wheel”—Joyce asked Daniel point blank, “Why are you pastoring? We need you in the classroom!”
She saw something special in him that that nobody else had seen, not even me.
Joyce is that kind of person.
I think back to the all-day teachers’ inservice Joyce chaired. Before our mid-morning break, she told us, “We’ll resume at 10:00 AM. If you’re back five minutes early, I’ll be sharing with you something that’s not essential. But it’s awfully nice to know.”
At 9:55 AM, the auditorium was packed. And sure enough, Joyce delivered. She shared a three minute story followed by a two-minute tip that I use to this day.
What I remember most, though, is the respect she gave us. She didn’t say, “Be sure to be back at 10:00 AM! If you’re late, we’ll have to go into lunch, and you don’t want that!” She didn’t stand at the microphone nagging, “We need to start. It’s already 10:05, and we were supposed to start five minutes ago!”
She didn’t need to. She made sure she didn’t need to.
Joyce is that kind of person.
But today, I wonder what Joyce will say to me.
It’s been several weeks since The Incident. The school board meeting…
- …for which I’d spent hours preparing a special presentation.
- …at which two parents took to the podium and accused Daniel and me of being self-centered, uncaring, incompetent, and a slew of other adjectives I spend most mornings from 1:00 AM – 4:00 AM trying to forget.
- …where I had to stand up, after being so thoroughly blindsided by personal attacks, and stumble through my notes and slides.
- …after which I cried all night, terrified to face my students in the morning, knowing that this is what their parents think of me.
Perhaps, like one of my other superintendents, Joyce will tell me to grow thicker skin. “Just shake it off. Pay them no heed.”
Or, like another, she could rhapsodize at length about what a blessed opportunity this is for me to “become more like Jesus.” To “forgive them, for they knew not what they did.”
She might ask the question that’s been surprisingly popular: “Have you prayerfully pondered what you did to provoke them? Have you humbly asked God to show you in what ways they were right so that you can change?”
Or, like most of the school board members, maybe she won’t even mention it. It is, after all, so much easier to pretend it never happened.
I tense, turn toward Joyce, and brace myself.
But nothing could possibly have prepared me for her words:
“…I came here today to tell you that I’m sorry. I am so, so sorry people said such hurtful things about you and to you. I am sorry. So very sorry. I am truly, truly sorry.”
She’s apologizing to me for a wrong she did not commit.
She’s acknowledging pain she did not cause.
She’s hurting because I am hurting.
She’s come four hours out of her way just to say two words I didn’t know until now how desperate I’ve been to hear:
Because Joyce is that kind of person.