While finishing up the semester, I was reminded of one of my first college classes. I was a senior in high school and taking a college history class, mainly so I could get out of school early. My professor was obviously knowledgeable in the subject and taught in a way I had never experienced. Instead of listing names and dates, he presented the history of the country like he was telling a story. It was because of this class that I first developed a love of history.
On the day of our final, I wanted to find a way to tell him how much I truly appreciated what I had learned from him. In my head I envisioned approaching him with clever words of praise which he would acknowledge and appreciate. We would exchange a bit of witty and intelligent discussion about the content of the course and I would leave him feeling both impressed with my ability to absorb his knowledge and satisfied that he had done his job well.
I finished my final, gathered my belongings, and walked to the front of the class to turn in my test. After he took it, I looked him straight in the eyes and said, “I like class”. At which point he gave me a strange look, and I decided against any further comments, stuttered a bit, and promptly turned and left the classroom.
There’s no denying that I didn’t get across the exact message that I intended. I didn’t come close to saying what I really meant.
How often does that happen?
I wish that I had been able to tell my professor how much I had learned from him and how much I had enjoyed his class. I’m now wanting to become a history teacher myself on my path towards becoming a school counselor, and much of my passion for the subject was initiated during his class. However, while I assume he would have appreciated recognition for his good work, he is really a minor player in the big scheme of my life.
How often do we tell the people that really matter how much we appreciate them? How often do we assume that those that matter most to us already know? It is so easy to presume that others know they are important, that they matter, that they make a difference in the world to somebody. On a whim, one of my sisters once wrote a list of things she likes about me. I can’t count the number of times I have looked over that list and felt validated for having made a difference to someone, and challenged to continue to be the type of person that they saw when they wrote it.
At the end of my life, I don’t want to look back and wish that I had said what I really meant. I don’t want to think that I missed an opportunity to let somebody know what difference they made to me.
“But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:13).