“Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds upon the heel that crushed it.”
Do you have memories that are triggered by certain tasks? If you’re anything like me, you do. I still remember a girl from High School that had luxuriously long armpit hairs every time I shave my armpits (hairy armpits are not my thing). I’ve never seen that girl since I graduated, but I still think of her every day almost 20 years later. I think she might be horrified to know this.
Well, this morning as I made some scrambled eggs for breakfast, I was reminded of another experience from my teen years that has haunted me in connection with egg making all these years.
Every morning before school, I attended a Seminary class with many of my classmates. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this start to my school day all four years of High School! But halfway through my Senior year, there was a teacher change that I did not enjoy. Up until then, I had always had dynamic, energetic teachers that I admired very much. They were so talented at presenting the material and making it fun for teenagers that it got in my mind that I was somehow entitled to fabulous teachers.
So, in walks this new teacher that had obviously never taught teenagers a day in his life. He struggled as he presented the material. He seemed disorganized, nervous, awkward, and his class was a total snooze-fest, which doesn’t mix well with teenagers at 6am. But did I just go with the flow and sleep through it? Oh, no! Let’s not forget that I was under the impression that I deserved awesome, perfected teachers!
After a few weeks of enduring his teaching, I just decided I wasn’t going to take it anymore and I started to lay into him every chance I got. When he was being boring, I pointed out my bleary eyed classmates and openly blamed him. I became rude, condescending, belligerent, and insubordinate at the drop of a hat in hopes of running him out of there. The worst part is, I think my bad example spread. Pretty soon everyone was attacking the poor guy, and that’s when it got really bad. The day we walked into class to the presence of our favorite Seminary teacher, my teenaged self felt triumphant. Mission Accomplished!
The favorite teacher was there only for the day on a problem-solving mission and spent most of the class time talking to us about what exactly it was that bothered us about the new teacher. We let it all hang out, and I’ll never forget the stricken look on my favorite teacher’s face as we defamed the name of the new teacher.
Then the next day the boring teacher returned. Only this time, he suggested we skip class time and go play some volleyball and make some breakfast. The usual seminary fare was either scones, pancakes, or donuts, but the new teacher wanted to make eggs. Was there no end to this guy’s weirdness? Eggs? C’mon! But he insisted. And I refused.
“No, I’m really picky about my eggs,” I said as we walked toward the kitchen. “It’s okay, I’ll just play some volleyball and skip breakfast.”
“Well, I can accommodate your pickiness, you know,” he replied. “How exactly would YOU cook your eggs?”
I went on describing to him the great lengths I go to make acceptable eggs for myself. I only cook 2 eggs at a time, I don’t scrape the nasty crusty stuff that forms on the sides of the pan, the eggs must be stirred constantly so they don’t get any brown spots, and a plate must be ready beforehand because the eggs must be removed immediately from the pan when they are done. I still to this day will not eat eggs unless they are done just this way.
“Done,” he said.
“No, no, no,” I balked. “You have a whole class to feed, don’t worry about me and my super pickiness.”
“No, I want to make the eggs for you…the way you like them,” he countered. “Will you stand next to me and make sure I do it right?”
I could see he wasn't going to give up. “Whatever,” I replied with an eye-roll, as we entered the kitchen.
He then proceeded to make my eggs – first – while everyone stood around, waiting. And he did it just right with a smile on his face, like he enjoyed pleasing me. Even my stone-cold teenaged heart couldn’t resist a little, reserved thaw.
I melted a bit that day, but the full thaw happened over time. I will never again make eggs without the remembrance of his selfless, Christ-like act of Forgiveness and Love to an ungrateful teenager. While I never much appreciated his lack-luster teaching in the classroom, I realize now he managed to become the most effective teacher I ever had. I will never fail to be inspired by him.
So, if by some small miracle you’re reading this, Brother Bryant, I sincerely apologize for being so horrible to you and beg your forgiveness. If you taught me now, you would find a wholly changed student, due in part to you and your awesome egg making skills.