God in a Ruffled Blouse and Small Brown Shoes

By Keith Miller | March 16, 2009

What is the authentic sign that someone is filled with God’s spirit and love the way Jesus was?

I wish I could send the following letter to the woman, a teacher, whom God used to change my life one day, simply by being who she was and doing what she did so often in our classroom.

Dear Mrs. Smith,

I don’t know where you’ve gone since that fourth grade class nearly seventy years ago. But if there is a special room in heaven for fourth grade teachers, I know you’re there. Do you still pull your hair up in a bun and wear ruffled blouses and small brown shoes the way you did as an “older” teacher (probably 33)?

Somehow, when you came around and bent over my desk, the rest of the world disappeared and we were alone. I’m not sure how you did it—but it made me feel very loved. Each of us must have thought, “It’s me! I’m the special one!”

You seemed to bring a glass bubble of caring and put it over the two of us so we could talk safely, privately. No longer did I have to be tough and swear and make nasty signs at the other boys. I’ll never forget that rainy day you brought us back the graded stories we’d turned in the Friday before.

Your eyes were shining.“John Keith,” you said in your quiet voice, “your story is excellent!” (you paused while you looked at the story, and I turned red. Then you continued, “You know,” and you nodded your head slowly. “I think you can become a very fine writer some day.”

First thought: “Oh no, if the other guys hear that, they willneverquit teasing me. I could hear them shouting already,‘Johnny is a wri-ter! Johnny is a wri-ter!’I’d have to whip them all.”

Second thought: “My gosh, she reallymeansit! Maybe Icouldbe a writer some day!” Then skyrocket thoughts going off in my mind: amazement, wonder, confirmation, fear, joy!

As a writer was being born in my gut that day, Mrs. Smith, you touched my shoulder and smiled a special smile about our secret, and moved on. As I sat there in your afterglow, I knew I’d been visited by an angel-messenger from God.

Today, remembering that moment, I can see that you planted a seed in my life that is still alive—not only about becoming a writer, but about how to love as a Christian. Your caring attention was warm, like a spotlight that god had given you to focus wherever you wanted to. And as you shined that spotlight on who we were inside, on the hidden hopes and dreams and loneliness, God’s love slid down the beam of your attention into our hearts and helped us see that we just might belovable and worthwhile, in spite of our insecurities and fears.

I watched you as you continued up and down the rows. I’m sure I must have had a dumb adoring smile on my face. And then I shook my head in amazement. You had stopped next to that mean Burt Logan.

And Burt was smiling back!

Thank you, Mrs. Smith,—for Burt and me, and for all the dozens of other scared, mean-looking fourth graders whom you taught over all those years, about finding hope and dreams…and about loving.

Lord, thank you that your footprints have always been mingled with ours even if you were wearing small brown shoes at the time. Amen.

“Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simplybe yourself, your life will count for plenty.” Mt. 23:10-12 The Message

“Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” John 13:34-35 The Message

Topics: Christian Living, Weekly Devotional | Comments Off on God in a Ruffled Blouse and Small Brown Shoes
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