When I was in fourth grade, my teacher impacted my life dramatically on many levels. She made learning fun. She always had interesting facts to share with us. And she was a wealth of witticisms.
Miss Glixon was an older single woman who had taught for close to 35 years when I had her. She was my perfect picture of what a teacher should look like and do. She had short tightly permed hair, light brown with steaks of white. She wore large glasses on her narrow face which constantly slid down her nose. Her uniform of choice was a long skirt with a crisp button-down blouse. And I thought everything that came out of her mouth was awe-inspiring.
I loved Miss Glixon.
But things weren’t always sweetness and light between me and Miss Glixon.
She had a mean side.
Not ugly mean, where she would slay students with her words or withering looks.
She didn’t wither well.
But this creative, enthusiastic teacher, who could make most any assignment seem fun, had some hard and fast rules that were never up for compromise.
One was a clean desk.
Neatness was next to godliness in her book. Order was her friend, her champion. Rule #1.
And I’ve not been blessed with the neatness gene.
The desk checks were always surprises, because she wanted us to make it habit. Not just a response of a kid wanting to please her teacher. And get a good grade.
“Raise your desk tops and stand to the side. Now.”
I dropped my head as I raised my desk top. And saw the catastrophe that was supposed to be pristine. I stood there, feeling fourth-grade shame. And when she walked by desk, grade book in hand, she shook her head as she saw what I didn’t want her to see.
“Messy desk, messy head.” Marked an F in the book, and marched on.
I was humiliated.
Rather than spur me to order, it moved me to hide my messes.
Which I do really well as an adult.
There are times when I want to present that well-polished look to the world. No matter what the state of my heart is.
Messy heart, messy life.
I care too much what others think. Maybe I revert back to that fourth-grade class, not wanting to feel the shame of people I care for really knowing the depth of my darkness. So I hide it behind a smile and a laugh.
King David understood the challenge of a messy heart. He struggled with his own inner disasters.
“How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults.” Psalms 19:12
He plead to God for help in seeing his mess. So he could deal with it and be clean. Whole.
I need God’s light to better see the chaos in my life. Exposing it for what it is. Cleaning it with His grace.
And it starts when I admit my messiness.
What are you hiding?
Photo courtesy of themessydesk.areavoices.com.