ELIEVING THE BEST
By Terri White
“Thank you so much for all the love and support you have given my sweet girl. She has grown and flourished so incredibly well at T.E.A.C.H., just as we had hoped. You, Mrs. White, were the one who helped. It all started when I, concerned and confused, reached out in a state of panic on a homeschool Facebook page. You understood. You told me to breathe and enjoy my daughter. Then you invited us – total strangers – into your home! Your kindness and guidance are some of the biggest blessings in our daughter’s life and mine, too. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!”
To me, love is the great answer to everything. Love can soften the hardest soul no matter how messed up people get. It can heal the broken-hearted, open the way for communication, or motivate someone to take that scary first step.
As an optimist, I tend to believe the best in others. Sometimes, though, it turns sour. Take the troubled neighbor boy who I invited into our home to play with my boys decades ago. He pocketed toys when he left. Soon the boy’s older brother marched him back to our house to return them. Eventually, that boy landed in jail. I wonder if he ever straightened out his life?
When a church elder asked if we could provide short-term lodging for a young, homeless woman, we eagerly agreed. All was rosy while my husband remained home. However, as soon as he left on an errand, she attacked me – in front of my children, toddlers at the time.
Fending her off, I steered her to the front door. She raced outside screaming obscenities while I tossed out her suitcase. That same elder bought her a bus ticket to somewhere far away. To this day, I wonder what became of her.
Decades ago, a grocery store supplied us with dented cans of food and wilted produce. After putting out the word, we boxed and delivered them to those in need. One young, homeless couple with a baby was living in a motel. To help them get on their feet, I invited them to stay in our home. However, after a couple of weeks, they disappeared into the night with my husband’s tools and numerous other possessions. My sincere, but unwise concern, proved a hard lesson.
Or the woman I hired. Good references. Took her responsibilities seriously. Sometimes going the extra mile. Then, in a mental breakdown, she turned on me, wreaking havoc. Another troubled person that I hope found her way.
For the past twenty years of teaching, I’ve dealt with only a couple of profoundly unpleasant parents and students - a pretty amazing record. However, one of those was so heart-wrenching that I suffered panic attacks for a few weeks. What will the future hold for a family that treats people so disrespectfully?
People are complicated. Sometimes they are not who they appear to be, and those experiences become challenging life lessons. Nonetheless, I choose to continue to believe the best in others, but have learned to exercise more wisdom as I’ve aged.
“I absolutely adore T.E.A.C.H. I remember Mrs. White standing in front of everyone at orientation stating that ‘your children will be loved at this school’. I feel this every day my daughter goes inside. T.E.A.C.H. is the best decision I could have made. It is one thing I got right.”
Even though I’m not perfect and do mess up, it doesn’t change my commitment. I care about people – always have. It’s about community. Lending a hand. Extending grace.
Love . . . is kind . . . bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things . . . love never fails. So there you have it. Words to live by.