“Mary” (by Abby)
This remarkable young lady scared the pants off me this year when I had her for the first time in my geometry and Biology classes. I had heard all sorts of stories about how controlling, angry and even vicious she could be if you got on her bad side. At this point in my life I realize a 10th grade girl shouldn’t scare me but there I was, shakin’ in my shoes. I tried hard to stay on her good side for quite awhile, but as I watched her I started to see what a truly amazing young woman she was and I started to wonder what had caused her to be so defensive.
During our 10th grade expedition trip to study interconnected ecosystems I had time to talk with her as we finished a hike one morning. She began to open up to me about her family life and the struggles and upheaval she has dealt with growing up. She comes from a long line of women who fight rather than get abused and used, and I started to see how her treatment of others was part of how she chose to protect herself in this world.
Later, as we prepared for a big presentation, I butted heads with “Mary”over the way she was treating her fellow students. At this point she and I had reached a cease fire and I dreaded having to confront her over her behavior. However I had also seen how strong she was and I had glimpsed a part of her that I believed didn’t want to always be putting up walls and fighting. I said a prayer for courage and the right words and took her aside to address what I had seen.
She was angry and denied that there was any truth in what I was saying. I told her that I wasn’t going to argue with her all day about it. I told her that I saw her leadership potential, how others looked to her for direction. However, sometimes she abused that and used her influence to control others and get her way. By the time we were done talking, we both were crying-her out of anger and hurt, me out of fear that I had forever wrecked this relationship by trying to speak some truth into her life.
The next day she was cold to me but not vindictive, which I decided was the best I could hope for. We went on this way for a few weeks and then things seemed to fall back to the way they had been before. But as I watched “Mary”, I saw her practicing more self-control and reservation. She seemed to think more before she charged ahead, which is a good first step.
Finally, on the last day of school, she pulled me aside. She said that she had thought a lot about what I had said earlier that year and had found that some of it was true. She shared more about her family and why she acted the way she did. She said she wanted to change. She was always trying to protect herself but she wanted to give that job over to God. She knew that she couldn’t trust her family to not hurt her but she wanted to trust God to take care of her when they did hurt her. She also didn’t want to treat everyone she met as if they were all out to control and hurt her.
The maturity and strength I see in this young woman is exceptional. I am praying that her spirit will be safe and protected this summer as she spends most of her time with the people who have taught her to fight and control to be safe. I plan to approach her about spending more time together outside of school next year so we can continue to teach each other truth and love. Will you join me in praying for the work God has started in this young woman?