"Armand", who spoke no English, skipped across the room, twirling in circles, tossing crayons into the air.
"My pencil's gone!" shouted "Marissa", tears welling in her eyes. "Someone stole it!"
The frustrated substitute searched for some more pencils, but the previous teacher had quit unexpectedly, packed up her supplies, and had left the cabinet completely empty.
This was the scene that unfolded before me the other day as I worked in a kindergarten classroom. Perhaps the previous teacher had valid reasons for quitting. She may have realized that the job was too much for her(as it would be for most of us I suspect). But why empty the cabinet? Why not leave tools and supplies to help the next teacher cope?
This experience has given me pause to reflect upon my past failures. Did I move on with grace and dignity or did I leave the cabinet empty?
When I was young and arrogant, a real estate transaction did not go smoothly so I retaliated by setting the alarm and unscrewing all of the lightbulbs before the new owners took possession. When I left a job with an unpopular boss I departed, leaving a trail of sarcastic comments in my wake. In both situations I had done nothing to fill the tool cabinet for my predecessors.
I had told myself that it was okay to leave the way I did because the situation was unpleasant, or they were making unreasonable demands—not unlike being thrust into a room full of needy five year-olds.
I used to keep score. If my perception of someone else was that they had committed more wrongs than I did, then I was justified in getting even. The bible tells us otherwise.
1 Peter 3: 9: NIV "Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because this to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing."
When I succumbed to my addiction, and my personal tool cabinet was empty, some caring women opened their cabinet and shared with me. Their past failures became stories of hope for me. They readily admitted their mistakes, and they taught me how to forgive and move forward with my shortcomings.
They taught me how to make amends, and to make an honest effort to set things right.
The verse above hints at eternal blessings, but I have already received earthly blessings as well. Several years ago I had a falling out with a friend. My attempts at reconciliation had been rejected. It had taken great effort on my part to smile and be polite whenever I saw her.
After several years of giving me cold stares, one day she approached me and apologized, admitting her part. How grateful I was that I had held my tongue! My tools had served me well.
Proverbs 12:18 “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
When my son, Chris, was diagnosed with leukemia, I was frustrated when I couldn't find meaningful literature for young cancer patients. I wrote my children's cancer book, "The Bald-Headed Princess". I wanted to leave something in the cabinet for the next scared patient.
It is unlikely that the teacher who quit will stop by to fill the cabinet and help the new teacher transition into a challenging situation, but she reminded me that I can still do that for others.
What's in your cabinet?