See this note right here? It was written on the bottom of an English essay about A Tale of Two Cities during my junior year in high school. And, it is one of my most treasured possessions.
I’m not a super sentimental person. In fact, I’m prone to throw more away than I keep. But, this paper has stayed with me for the past 23 years. Why? I can tell you that it isn’t because of the book. In fact, I have no memory whatsoever of reading the book. Rather, the value is found in the words that my teacher wrote.
This note was written to a very insecure girl who had no idea what her God-given strengths and talents were. Absolutely no clue. In high school, I didn’t have much of an identity nor a group to whom I felt connected. My resume consisted of youth group, winner of a Home Economics cross-stitching contest, water girl for the football team, and statistician for the basketball team. Super exciting, huh? The cheerleaders didn’t include me. Neither did the jocks, the band kids, the kids who dressed in black, or the ones who listened to Nirvana and had DMB patches on their backpacks. These groupings filled my honors classes leaving me, a cross-stitching water girl, out on my own. I wanted to fit in but didn’t know how. I wanted my teachers to notice me but didn’t feel that I had anything to offer that was worth noticing. Therefore, I stayed as quiet as I could so that I wouldn’t draw any attention to myself.
Enter the teacher who changed all of that.
When the essays were returned to the class, I anxiously scanned the first page to find my grade: A+ 100%. Little did I know that the real treasure was on the last page. I don’t remember whether or not I cried when I read it. All I remember was that I finally felt noticed. Really noticed.
“She thinks I’m a good writer!”
I had no idea! Writing wasn’t even remotely on my radar. Up to that point, the only thing that I could do well was make the perfect DQ swirl on an ice cream cone at my part-time job. I was quite proud of my swirl! And, now, she says I’m also good at writing!
I could have leapt! What a feeling!! This note infused me with unexpected encouragement. It gave me needed confidence and I put so much gusto into my writing from that point on, always wanting to impress her more.
As my education continued on through my senior year and into college, I kept her note tucked in safe places and never forgot about her belief in me. While writing came naturally to me, I only wrote the bare minimum required for my classes. Comma rules and staying in the right tense just wasn’t my thing! Plus, writing requires digging deep within myself and feeling secure in expressing my thoughts and I just wasn’t at that point.
Enter this blog.
When the blog idea was pitched, I literally laughed out loud and plugged my ears. “Nope. I’m not a writer,” was the resounding echo in my head over the course of many months. I struggled a great deal with feeling capable. I reverted back to that insecure 11th grader who didn’t want to put herself out there. I didn’t want to take a risk. I didn’t want to be noticed.
Enter the Lord.
Eventually, the calling to write grew stronger and louder than my objections. The Lord began to breathe a passion inside of me to reach women through written words and He helped me face my giants one-by-one. Then, as the day of my first blog post drew near, He gave me a clear assignment: Write about this fear versus faith struggle. Thus, my first blog was titled, “By Faith…She Became a Writer.”
On the eve before the blog went live, panic gripped me. I feared nobody would read it. Nobody would like it. Nobody would connect with it. I feared it was too simple, too plain. Insecurity flooded every cell in my body. I laid on the floor, cried my eyes out, and told the Lord that I couldn’t do it.
Enter the note.
While in that sobbing fetal position, I remembered her words. I scrambled up the stairs as fast as I could and pulled out a slim file folder from my desk. I rummaged through the handful of papers saying, “Please let it be here!”
And, there it was.
I read it over and over again as if it were the first time I had seen it. Her words, “I am proud of you!”, “You have met the challenge!”, and “I am well aware of your presence,” silenced my fears. In that moment, my teacher from 23 years ago, who I have had zero contact with since, gave me the courage to go forward.
Teachers, you may never know this side of heaven the impact that you have on your students. Your words matter. Oh, how they matter! It is so easy to grow discouraged and weary. Please press on! What if my teacher had felt that her words didn’t matter? What if she hadn’t taken the time to write them down? What if she hadn’t noticed me?
But, she did.
The potential that she saw in me was so much greater than the potential that I saw in myself. And, because she took the time to tell me so, the imprint that it left on me will never be erased.
I am a writer today largely because of her. She planted the seed long ago and probably doesn’t even remember doing so. But, there is one person who will never forget—her student.
And, neither will yours.
Today and every day, we appreciate all the teachers who have touched our lives. I may never get my commas and tenses right. But, I will always hold this pen and remember that it was a teacher who believed in me first.
Rebecca SmithFirst, I am a child of God. And, like a child, I am always learning and growing. The more I know Him, the more I love Him. Second, I am a wife to a good man. Missions is his thing while teaching women to love God’s Word is mine. Third, I am a mama to three plus a sweet cockapoo who thinks he’s #4. My children are my ongoing sanctification. Fourth, I am a passionate advocate of all things healthy & natural and a dreamer/designer. Old friends call me Becky, newer ones call me Rebecca, and the most intimate ones call me Beck. You can just call me friend.