Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The best life lesson my dad ever taught me

My Dad (and baby Zach)

I was in jr. high--9th grade, to be exact. And I was in Mr. Vinson's class. He taught me the word "facetious." He'd always use big words and then would tell one of us to look the word up and read the definition to the class. And he wasn't even an English teacher. I loved his class--he made it lots of fun! We had a test one day---a 6 weeks test, if I remember correctly. Mr. Vinson passed the tests out--upside down on our desk--and then began giving us instructions. I tuned him out. I hated when teachers did that. I mean...come on! Let's just take the stupid test! As soon as he gave us the go-ahead, I quickly began my test. I was prepared and I knew the answers. I was an "A" student, after all. I breezed through that test and I was the first person to turn it in. And as soon as I did, Mr. Vinson's face turned red and he screamed at me, "BECKY SANDERS!!! WHERE DID I TELL YOU TO PUT YOUR TEST???" I just stared at him. I had no clue. He proceeded to pick up my test and tear it into about 6 pieces and threw it in the trash. I was stunned! I sat down at my desk and my face was now beet red. (I hated the fact that I blushed so quickly and so deeply--the curse of being a redhead!) Every student in the room was staring at me--I mean, Mr. Vinson wasn't even a screamer! They all took their turns and quietly turned in their paper---in the correct spot. Obviously, they'd been listening.
Mr. Vinson had me stay after class. By this time, I was crying---and that was never a pretty site either. Another teacher walked in and asked what was going on. I think it embarressed Mr. Vinson and he told me if I could find some tape to put the test back together, he'd grade it. I went to the office to find tape. Every adult along the way was asking me why I was crying. Now I usually rode the bus home, but because I had to stay after class, I'd missed it. So while I was in the office getting tape, I had to call my dad and ask him to pick me up at school when he got off work.
Back to Mr. Vinson's classroom I went. He'd gotten the pieces of my test out of the trash and it was laying on his desk. He was already grading the other tests. He acted a little stand-offish and I quickly taped the test together, left the room without a word, and went to wait on my dad. I was so humiliated. I was usually well-liked by the teachers---not someone who was yelled at in front of my peers. I had plenty of time to cry while I waited on my dad to come pick me up.
Dad drove up and I got in his car. He asked me what had happened and I told him the whole sorry tale. Dad didn't say anything for a couple of blocks. Now I'd heard enough of dad's escapades as a kid to know I wasn't going to get in big trouble. Trust me---he'd done far worse things!! But I also knew my dad wouldn't bad-mouth a teacher or take my side in the matter. After a long pause, dad said, "Here's what you need to do. Tomorrow, when you go back to Mr. Vinson's class, you need to walk in as if nothing has ever happened and smile and tell him hello."

Dad walking me down the aisle

That was it. That was the best life lesson my dad ever taught me. He didn't whip his Bible out and preach to me. He didn't even quote a verse. But that life lesson has stayed with me all these years. Basically, what my dad taught me that day was this: forgive .
So I did. I didn't even have to wait til the last hour of the day when I had Mr. Vinson's class. He was hall monitor for the morning and he was the first teacher I saw. I walked right up to him with a smile on my face and cheerfully said, "Hi, Mr. Vinson!" (in a lilting voice) You could have knocked him over with a feather! He looked so surprised. But he slowly smiled at me and told me, "Good morning, Becky." And all was forgiven. It was as if nothing had ever happened. We had a great relationship from that day on. (The funny thing is, I don't even remember what I made on that test!)
I learned a lot through that experience. I learned that my daddy loved me. I learned I could trust his advice. I learned not to hold a grudge and...most of all...I learned to forgive quickly.
And trust this day when someone is giving instructions....I listen! I learned that life lesson from Mr. Vinson--one of my favorite teachers!

Dad & his brother, Glen


Marcy Faye Hallden said...

I LOVED that story. What a good dad!!

Elizabeth said...

I loved this. I do this in my classroom but from the teacher standpoint. When students are obnoxious, mean, etc and THEY KNOW they have behaved horribly, then the next day I choose to forgive them and start afresh with them. It floors them! They don't understand the "not holding a grudge". It's really neat how God works and blesses thru forgiveness. Not that it should surprise us but it does.

Kristi said...

What a great story. Your dad was an amazing man!

Lindsey said...

Awww, this makes me miss Papa. What a great lesson. I really liked this story... it's one I've never heard before!

TheShermanFam said...

I am in agreeance (is that a word and is spelled correctly?)...I LOVED, LOVED that story, too!! Thanks!