“May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones” (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13).
Strengthening my heart: that means making a weak muscle stronger through exercise that probably doesn’t feel good and will likely leave me sore in the short term but stronger overall, right?
Confession: my heart has been hurting. Last week I taught over 360 students and had lots of “Thank yous!” and hugs and “See you soons!” and so on. When I got back to the office, however, there was a complaint. The email was 5 inches long. This poor lady walked in early and the class room was already near capacity. She and the person she was supposed to be crafting with couldn’t sit together and…it was all down hill from there. On and on she described mean people, an uncaring teacher (me), there was nothing left that was good in this class.
It hurt my heart. I LOVE to teach and to know that someone was that miserable cut me to the core. I remember speaking with her AFTER the class and her complaining about various issues, but at that point there was very little I could do and she just kept say,”Oh, well, it’s over now.”
I spoke with Emma Lou about what I could do to help NOW. If this woman would have said something at the beginning or during the class I could have tried to help then, but her feelings were wounded and you cannot go back in time. What could I do MOVING FORWARD. Emma Lou helped me with options, but more importantly listened to me and pulled out/helped me to see what was in my heart.
I told her I would like to do things differently (I am always looking for ways to improve myself). When a class is very full and people that walk in the door cannot craft together:
-recognize the disappointment
“Thank you for joining us! We are happy you have chosen to spend time with our Heartfelt family. I realize some of you have been separated from a very special person that you have been looking forward to crafting with. I am so sorry about that but hope that you will enjoy crafting with your new/temporary “best friend,” which is the individual sitting next to you that you will be sharing ink pads with. Please take a moment and introduce yourselves.”
Emma Lou said,”Good! Her disappointment started when she walked in the door. Help them focus on what they HAVE, not on what they are MISSING.”
Wow! I never thought of that, but the words DID come out of my mouth. Emma Lou seems to see past the surface to see the heart of the matter. Even with the encouragement, it was still hard to walk into another class room without the fear of disappointing. It’s odd how many nice things that can be said but one negative and it is often the one that “sticks.”
This week I taught in Wisconsin. There were much smaller classes, only one sold out, and (seemingly) a more laid back environment. It was held at the WI State Fair Grounds, so if you ever get a chance to attend, the campus is beautiful and extremely well laid out. There were long days of set up and tear down, but the one day between was only a 10.5 hour day! That left a little time for fun so the vendor, Rubbernecker (don’t you love the name???), once again invited the Heartfelt team to a Brewer’s baseball game and included me! Last year we all went together and they plopped me between the two couples so I wouldn’t feel left out. This year I think they recognize that my heart has grown in strength. I love attending sporting events, and though it is fun to share it with a close friend, I still enjoy the event even without light conversation. I actually surprised myself with how much I just enjoyed the game, the peanuts, the atmosphere (minus the half lit crowd towards the end of the game-but most were still friendly, REALLY friendly). I sat on the end so they could converse freely and focused on the individual innings. I was a happy camper because I am living my life and not waiting for only “perfect opportunities.”
After the game, we were all walking to the car when one of the gentlemen said,”Tracy, you don’t have to walk behind us, you can walk with us,” but to be honest, I hadn’t even noticed! I was ok, they were ok, and they recognized they didn’t have to entertain me and I am ok with not being entertained, not that we didn’t speak on occasion.
After settling back into the hotel room my mind went back to my conversation with Emma Lou. I could have said no to the baseball game because I know these two couples have not had the opportunity to spend time together lately and they are very close (I even offered to bow out when they first asked me). I could have mentally made a long list of the reasons I couldn’t or shouldn’t go, focusing on what I felt I needed to have the “perfect” experience. Instead I focused on what I HAD: the opportunity at hand. They know I like going to games and they were kind enough to invite me. I didn’t have to drive, I was in a safe environment (safety in numbers) and Dave was even crazy enough to buy all of our tickets!!! I had to choose to enjoy myself and I DID! I LOVED IT!
Last week was some serious exercise on my heart and it’s still a little sore. I truly think Heavenly Dad allows those painful things so I will know how to better love and meet the needs of His other children. When I stand before Him I hope He will not have to say,”You know, Tracy, I tried to teach you that other people’s feelings matter but you were too focused on how hurt your feelings were because you felt attacked. Though your feelings were real, you chose to focus on them instead of the bigger picture.” Ouch.
My inner battle continues: trying hard to take my focus off of me. I think I am stronger and better for it.
Until next time: Blessings!