2011-08-09 - Sometimes the Small Stuff Makes up the Big Stuff
Teachers God Has Sent Me through the Years ~ Part 4
The teacher in this devotional was an experience I had as a teenager. I hope you'll bear with me until you see the end results. In recent years, someone wrote a book about "not sweating the small stuff," and I think that can be true. But sometimes, the "small stuff" is what constitutes the "big stuff." My own personal example: When I was 14 years old, one afternoon, I had all that I felt I could take of Geometry class. Being a language and science nerd, a class in spatial math was not my "cup `o tea." I was incredibly bored, and decided that just this one and only time I would skip a class. So I left the school grounds without permission, and "ran away" to the library. My idea of a glorious afternoon was sitting in a library, surrounded by a seemingly limitless supply of books, magazines and newspapers I thought I had everything covered.
There was one "fly in the ointment." I knew my parents wouldn't write an "excuse" for me. They believed and I now realize they were absolutely right that we should be responsible for our own actions, and that if parents bailed us out and did our homework (which I never even thought of asking) for us etc., it really isn't doing us a favor in the long run, to prepare us for real life (not to be confused with so-called reality tv, which is anything but). So I decided that I would write a note saying I was home sick, committing a little forgery with one of my parents' names, for unlike some parents, who cover for their children, mine wouldn't. I put a lot of thought into this. I even turned a ring around so that it looked like a wedding band, in case the librarians wondered what a teenager was doing out of school on a weekday afternoon. There were no questions, and I relished the time there.
But it was a very expensive trip to the library. You see, what I didn't realize was that the Vice Principal saw me leaving the school. The next day, he was waiting for me, when I disembarked from the bus, and he meted out my punishment (which I still feel was a bit harsh, but I did learn from it). My grades in every class would be lowered by one letter. That may not sound like a big deal. After all, they were "just grades," right? And since I had As in most classes, those would just become Bs, which are still "above average." But that wasn't true in the case of Geometry. After losing my hard-earned grades, and hearing the painful words of my favorite teacher telling me "I'm so disappointed in you," I "straightened up and flew right." I became the best student again. But the effects lingered. The incident lowered my Grade Point Average, and I lost my chance to be Valedictorian or even Salutatorian, which would have been likely.
This may not sound like a big deal, but the ramifications just kept coming along. When I went to apply to X-Ray Technology School, they were accepting only fifteen students in the entire area. The advisor told me that she couldn't believe my math grade was from the same person who had subsequently made all As, made the highest SAT score etc. She said she wanted to personally explain that it was that one math grade that kept me from the program, and I would be an "alternate." If just one person dropped out, I was in the program. That one grade, due to that one missed class, prevented my entry into the program. And alas, none of the students left the program.
As with everything in life, a la Romans 8:28, God worked things out for good. It taught me also the value of being a good student, I ended up graduating from my alma mater university, Magna Cum Laude, and doing something that is tailor-made for my passions, temperament and gifts (Victim Advocacy). There's nothing in the world, that I would rather do. I love it so much that when I had to resign from the paid staff, I continued as a volunteer. And even more importantly, if I had been away at that school, I would have not met my husband, with whom I have been happily married for several decades.
But the incident taught me a very valuable lesson. Even the "little decisions" are important, and are all eventually a part of the "big picture." Likewise, just as Christ taught us, if we commit even one "little" sin (or what we think of as little), we are violating the law.
As Christians, every single decision we make as is important, and should be done in a spirit of prayer. Someone may say "a little flirting is not harmful," but that flirting often leads to something more serious. A teen may insist that listening to violent lyrics is harmless, but as most of us adults know, it really does plant ideas in the heads of the listeners. And too often, youth who idolize these artists will commit some of the acts of violence themselves. With every decision we make, even if we consider it "insignificant," we can be sure it matters to God, and we would do well to ask Him to guide us in the little stuff, as well as the big stuff.