A lesson in (meta)physics
It was time for physics class, and as usual, I was dragging my feet, trying to think of any excuse not to attend. For what felt like the millionth time, I asked myself, Why does my teacher hate me?
It was still the beginning of my freshman year of high school, but from the first day I hadn’t gotten along with this teacher. It didn’t help that physics was a subject I did not particularly enjoy and didn’t think I was very good at. The teacher never seemed to be supportive of my learning, and even seemed to think I was stupid. Day after day, I would try to think of ways to get out of his class—but I would always end up there, unhappily slouched at my desk.
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Eventually I just got fed up with letting one class, and one teacher, ruin my entire day, so I called a Christian Science practitioner to ask for prayerful support. She told me about an analogy her Christian Science teacher had shared with her. It went like this: If you had a dream that you lived on the other side of the world, and an elephant came into your house and destroyed all your things, what would you do when you woke up? Would you have to move back home and buy all new things? Of course not, because your things were never destroyed and you were never living on the other side of the world!
The practitioner explained to me that the same thing held true with my feelings toward this teacher. I didn’t need to make a huge change or bring about a transformation on my own—all I had to do was wake up and see that my teacher couldn’t really express anything but God’s love toward the whole class, including me. She suggested that I try to find one thing I appreciated about this teacher every day. I thanked her and told her I would keep in touch and let her know how things worked out.
My teacher couldn’t really express anything but God’s love toward the whole class, including me.
Well, to be honest, that suggestion sounded really difficult to me—I didn’t think there was anything I could appreciate about this man! But then I remembered something my dad often tells me when I am having difficulties with peers. He says you don’t have to be best friends with them, but you do have to recognize that God loves them, since they are His children as well. That advice always helps me remember to separate a problem I’m having with someone from the person him- or herself.
I began to think about things that I appreciated about my teacher. I came up with one thing every day. They started out as really simple things, such as “I like the way his classroom is set up.” Eventually, though, they became more concrete. For example, I became truly grateful that this man was willing to teach, and genuinely wanted to further his students’ education. I called the practitioner back a few times over the next several weeks to tell her things were getting better, and she was pleased with the progress.
As the year went on, it became much easier to appreciate this teacher, and the class became increasingly more enjoyable. By the end of the year, he was one of my favorite teachers. And I ended up doing well in physics class, too—my grade had improved dramatically. What a difference it made when I committed to seeing the situation more spiritually!