My need to feel good became irrelevant

April 1, 2016 -- Living City

My need to feel good became irrelevant​
After a failed attempt, another try at tutoring

Since I retired from nursing a few years ago on disability, I missed the sense of satisfaction that comes with helping people. Last year I asked our parish grade-school principal if she knew of any kids who could benefit from my help, even though I’d had no professional teaching experience.

She happily suggested two fourth graders. Each one needed help in math, science, social studies and religion. I loved tutoring and tried very hard to make our sessions together as interesting as I could, even though neither kid was too excited about staying after school to do their homework. I saw each encounter with these kids as precious opportunities to love, seeing Jesus present in them. Often though, instead of positive outcomes, I was noticing more and more resistance from them. These kids seemed to back off in their desire to cooperate, until they refused to let me help them anymore. Finally, after a few months I gave up. In agreement with their teachers, we stopped any more tutoring.

The next semester I was asked if I’d be willing to tutor again, this time for a second grade boy. Meeting with him and helping him with his reading and spelling was a joy, and this time I felt better prepared. I decided I could take on my responsibility with a new attitude. Jesus never imposed himself on anyone. If that person were open to him, then he could give them so much more.

Remembering this helped me become aware of how I could love Eddie. He needed a little help. My own need to enjoy myself or to feel good about something I was doing became irrelevant. Instead of Eddie getting me, he deserved to find the presence of Jesus in me. This changed my attitude: I was less proud, less concentrated on me and more on Jesus in Eddie.

Every tutoring session became an exercise in discovery. I noticed particular obstacles that made reading difficult for him. Then we worked on those things and actually made some progress in how much he was learning. There’s where the joy came in.

Barbara Stewart, Santa Barbara, CA


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