I think, most of us could think of our own ‘What-doesn’t-kill-you-makes-you-stronger’ experience. While this may not always be true, when we think of it, we can recall a moment in our life when the very thing that hurts us was also the same thing that triggered us or prompted us to wake up and become better. This thing or ‘trigger’ could be a situation or a person.
While words cannot express how much I appreciate the kind, sweet, and gentle people in my life who helped me get up from a fall and nursed my wounds, I am also thankful to God for those people who, in a way, caused these wounds. Not that I enjoyed the pain (of course not! I despised it to the very core), but I realized that these people played their own role in my life for a purpose.
The Brutally Honest Classmates
I have mentioned for quite a number of times in my previous blog posts how bratty and tactless I used to be. I would say literally anything that comes to mind without any filter. And I would have probably stayed as the same person that I used to be until now if it wasn’t for that tall, thin, noisy girl in elementary whom our classmates often get annoyed with because of her frankness and most of the time, tactlessness.
But who would have thought that this girl could be God’s instrument to awaken this ‘sleeping brat’ to reality? Her brave and bold attitude became instrumental for God to teach me that I am not the only person in this world; I have to be mindful and considerate of other people’s feelings and situations; and I have to be careful with my words and my actions.
This girl and a boy classmate who also had quite the same attitude and approach were the very ones who made me aware that almost all our classmates were severely offended by my insensitivity and were heavily talking behind my back. These two enumerated the words that our classmates used to describe me (which are very painful to hear) and my actions that have offended them. These two then gave me some advice on what I needed to do to change my attitude, and they gladly helped me to pick myself up and start changing for the better.
The Enraged Highschool Teacher
Way back in second year highschool, in one of our subjects, our teacher would usually give us as homework the module questionnaires at the end of each chapter in our book. She would give a very specific instruction on how to do the homework, and when some of us did not do as she instructed, she would get so angry of the whole class.
One time, while we were checking our seatmate’s homework under the supervision and direction of our teacher, she found out that one of our classmates did not complete the homework, but his seatmate did not say anything to the teacher. The teacher got mad not directly to the one who did an incomplete homework, but mostly to the seatmate who was in charge of checking the homework that was incomplete or improperly done and did not say a word. Then the teacher asked to the whole class who else did the same, and unfortunately, I was one of them.
The teacher got so furious to each one of us that checked our seatmate’s incomplete homework for not correcting our seatmate’s mistake and not informing her. I understood her anger towards us because, although we did complete our own homework, our passivity condones the wrongdoing of our classmates. The teacher spent several minutes scolding us for not being truthful and for not speaking up when we’ve witnessed something wrong.
The shame brought by our teacher’s words to us individually and as a whole class and for the whole experience was piercingly painful (I wasn’t able to stop myself from crying the moment the teacher left the room and my classmates consoled me) but was instrumental to teach me some of the very important lessons that I will be carrying for the rest of my life.
This is also the same teacher who made it such a big deal when I failed in the first quarter examination by one point that she made me bring my mother the next day to speak to her in the faculty room. This experience taught me to take my studies more seriously. And when I did, on the third and fourth year in highschool, I was able to get higher grades and would often be included in the top 10 or top 20 in the class of above 40 students.
The Strict Zoology Professors in College
When I took Psychology as my major for my bachelor’s degree, we had two Zoology subjects in the curriculum. The first one was taken during the first semester in freshman year. The professor in the Zoology 1 was very strict and would often scare us by always telling us, “Pagdating n’yo sa next Zoology class n’yo sa next sem., mas lalong mahirap doon! Kapag hindi n’yo pinagbuti dito, hindi n’yo lalo kakayanin doon!”. Although this statement would always make us shiver in fear and give us anxiety and stress, it worked for our advantage because we really took this subject more seriously, we developed our own study habits, and we got used to the difficulty which enabled us to get through all the challenges in the next Zoology class.
The second semester of the freshman year came and we met the infamous and beloved professor of Zoology 2 who always wore black to our wonder. She was expectedly strict, but she was loving, intelligent, and very genuine. In her class, we had to dissect dead baby sharks and dead cats. Each of us had to have our own specimen. Since I have visual impairment, I was having a hard time dissecting and identifying tiny, intricate parts and layers of the muscles of the animals’ different body parts. I can’t help but feel so anxious every time we have a laboratory exam where we have to identify the names of whatever part or layer of tissue or muscle our professor is pointing out.
I got so scared when I wasn’t able to answer correctly and the professor sort of yelled not because of my mistake but because she knew that I was not trying hard enough. And I admit that I got too overwhelmed by my limiting condition and my fear hindered me from pushing myself further. I wasn’t really hurt and mad when the professor loudly said, “You should keep trying! Hindi yung lagi kang natatakot na magkamali o hindi mo kakayanin. You still have to try!” for the whole class to hear. Everybody was silent. I felt embarrassed, but later on, I appreciated our professor for saying that because it stuck to me and I learned from it
And whenever I am tempted to give up before even trying, I remember what she told me.
This same professor pushed me to become better. She expressed how she admired how I kept going in spite of the difficulty brought by my visual impairment. Her encouragement and appreciation inspired me to be better and do my best in the succeeding years of my college life and beyond.
She also said, “you will someday forget all the technical and medical terms that I’ve made you memorize in this class, but you’ll carry with you the discipline, perseverance, and endurance that you are required to develop in order to pass my class.”. And she is right in every word she said.
The Not-So-Happy Co-Worker
When I started with my very first full-time job here in the US, I just graduated from college in the Philippines and I barely got work experience. I was the youngest employee in the company and as expected, some people were not quite sure why our employer hired such a very young and naive-looking immigrant whose disability is even more evident than her skills.
But nevertheless, many of the employees are nice and welcoming. Most of them are very patient with me as they share some knowledge and instructions on how I should do the assigned tasks. All of my teammates in the administration department are very kind and understanding except for one. This lady was not so friendly and patient as the rest of my co-workers, but I understand because I don’t expect everyone to be the same and to be perfectly nice. That wouldn’t have been realistic.
As someone who was just starting with her new job, not to mention, I was just beginning to adjust to the new environment, it was almost inevitable for me to have errors and mistakes. And apparently, this lady co-worker expects that I should already know better. Although she was never rude or mean to me, I can sense her impatience towards me. She could make me feel like I have done a big mess when I have just been starting to learn my way around.
And I think, you would know when someone doesn’t like you and it could make you feel uneasy.
But God urged me to notice something deeper. I felt in my gut that this person was not happy, either with her job or with her personal life, I wasn’t sure. But I began to have an idea why I sensed some animosity in her. Something tells me that she may be unhappy with her current job and also, something happened that gave me a clue about the real state of her relationship with her husband. It must have been God’s way of making me understand her situation more.
A few months later, she resigned from the company, found a new job where she is now much happier, she also had a divorce which she happily told me about when she visited some of her friends in the office a year after she resigned. As she was telling me about her new job and even before she mentioned about the divorce with her husband, her lighter, freer, and happier aura was effortlessly noticeable. Her smiles are more genuine, she is friendlier now. And I am very happy for her.
The Friend Whom I Had To Let Go
Someone who was once a good friend of mine, but I eventually had to minimize my interactions with him. God knows how grateful I am to Him for giving me a friend like him who used to be so fun to be with and so helpful and insightful in some way. I really treasured this person more than he’ll ever know and I honestly miss the times when he was just one call away and he has been very helpful and kind, I can probably never thank him enough.
But as time passes and things happen, some inevitable changes occurred, and the distance became more than just in the physical aspect. Misunderstanding arose and misinterpretations lead to what felt like a spiritual attack not only to my whole being as a person but also to my family. God knows how I tried to hang on and show this person what I thought he would want to see, but the Lord reminded me in that experience that it is no longer up to me to fix the situation because the problem was beyond me. Therefore, the solution was also not within my capacity. This experience taught me that I have to take care of my well-being and that, some relationships are not meant to be kept for good.
I was also taught by the Lord that, although I have to seek to understand more than to be understood, it is no longer my task to convert a person’s heart and to heal a wounded soul. It has to be clear to me that I can only point to the Great Physician but I am not the Healer myself.
And I have also learned that I need to guard myself in order to carry on. The battle is not mine alone but God’s.
NOT A CURSE BUT A BLESSING
Most of the time, the difficult people in our life are the ones that God used to make us understand what tough love means. They are placed into our life not to make our life miserable but to mold us in to the person the Lord wants us to be.
These people are instruments to make us a better person:
- a more sensitive and caring friend,
- a more honest and diligent student,
- an understanding and patient co-worker
- a persevering and determined child of God,
- a loving and faithful servant of the King of kings.
There are different people that come and go in our life, and God has a purpose why we have met and have encountered each of them.
We may sometimes wish that we have never met some of them, but they actually teach us some important lessons in a way that could be undesirable, unpleasant, and sometimes excruciatingly painful.
And their intentions may not always be clear to us, or may not always be pure and good, but God’s intention for allowing these people to impact our lives is always ultimately for our good. It may be hard to believe this, and it could almost sound like an insult to some of you who may have been reading this, but I pray that we can make some space in our hearts for hope and love to permanently reside.
I may not know many things about people yet and would be more likely to encounter people of various attitudes and personalities, my hope is to share to you now what I have learned and experienced as part of my journey—my walk with Jesus—to hopefully inspire you with yours.
Love and prayers,