We may all have that one person whom we frequently think about, thankful for them and the contribution they made to our lives. For me, it was my high school math teacher and basketball coach.
Throughout the years, I’ve wanted to encourage him with the facts that without his presence during those critical years, I would’ve committed suicide long ago. God knew exactly what He was doing when I was put in this teacher’s class and for that I am ever thankful.
To the teacher who saved my life,
I don’t know if you remember me but I remember you and I’ll remember you all my life. My maiden name was M***, I have a twin sister, we graduated from LHS in 1997 and played basketball if any of that jogs your memory.
I’ve thought about writing you many times but just didn’t until I read this post today and I wanted to tell you that quite simply, God used you to save my life many times.
Over the years, I’ve thought about you frequently and your investment in your students. As a previous student of yours, you were probably one of the only people throughout my high school years that really showed me that I wasn’t invisible and that someone cared. I’ll never forget the day I ran from your classroom to go cry in the bathroom and when I came out, you were sitting on the floor in the hallway waiting to talk with me. We sat and talked just for a few minutes because I was embarrassed and didn’t want to say anything.
You see, I was living in a neglected and abusive household. My dad was gone most of the time (coal miner) and my mom was, and still is, mentally unstable. She would verbally, physically & mentally abuse me. We never knew when she would lash out and what, if anything, would provoke her. She hit me nearly everyday and she tried to kill me on multiple occasions. I vividly remember quietly washing the dishes after dinner one night and then all of a sudden being physically assaulted. She was strangling me over the kitchen sink, my sister had to jump on her and throw her through the garage wall to get her to stop strangling me.
There was a hole in our wall as long as I can remember living in that house; it was a reminder of the unpredictable nature of life.
While my sister became the extroverted party girl that everyone loved, I became the depressed bookworm — never fitting in anywhere but desperately wanting to. I became a cutter in high school, but not in visible areas. The last time my mom hit me was when I went to the bathroom at 3am one morning and she was angry that I was awake. She punched me the face and knocked me to the ground. That was the first and last time I ever hit her back, I shoved the bathroom door in her face and broke her glasses.
The next day, you saw bruising on my face and sent me to the nurse’s office where someone from social services was waiting for me. I told them the truth about what happened but she denied it all when they visited her that same day, and while she no longer hit me, she stills throws that day in my face at times as the reason we don’t have a good relationship even now, 20 years later.
Because of your care and actions to let me know that you, or anyone really, cared about me and more so by God’s great mercy and grace, I am alive today.
So, I wanted to thank you. I want to tell you that my freshman year in college, I became a Christian, was discipled into a rich relationship with Jesus, began discipling others in their walks with God and started investing my life for others who were lost, afraid, alone, and broken. I became a missionary for 12 years, going to 34 countries and loving people with the heart of Jesus, sharing with them the gospel. Back in the States, I got married to a godly man, we now have two beautiful children. We serve with our church, still invest in Christian missions and continue to disciple people as the Lord leads.
I’ve spent much of my adult life learning what it means to be accepted and loved just for how He created me to be, that I can actually trust some people (though I do still struggle with that a great deal).
I was sad to hear that you weren’t teaching anymore, because frankly, I probably wouldn’t have done any of the things above at all. I probably would’ve committed suicide long before I got to college and became a Christian. You had one of the biggest impacts on my life than almost anyone. For that, I deeply thank you.
I just wanted you to know that you saved at least one life in your lifetime. And because of that, more lives have been saved and the world is richer. I praise God quite frequently for you.
NOTE TO ALL TEACHERS
You have a tremendous opportunity to reach into the darkness of a child’s or teen’s turbulent life and have influence over their perspective. Like me, these kids have mastered the art of hiding and are yearning for someone to simply “show up” – to demonstrate that they are not invisible, that someone sees them and cares about them.
I knew life was not supposed to be what my life was at the time. I knew there was more than simply surviving but I still fell into the trap of thinking that suicide and self-harm was my way out. Thank God that He is merciful and good and gave me a twin sister to think about & a teacher who was there. Above all things, I’m most grateful that I lived long enough to hear the Gospel and receive salvation through faith and that God has utterly changed me as a person and especially my outlook on life and relationships.
I know, the demands of your work are horrendous and constant. Making sure your students are learning has a huge amount of pressure yet I encourage you to take those sometimes exhausting opportunities to extend yourself to those in your classroom and school. You may very well be saving lives as you invest to care deeply for your students.