I dreaded Fridays. Professional Learning Community day. Time to plan common lessons, compare data, work together with my fellow seventh-grade teachers. All who taught differently than me. Even though I had the most experience, the team scoffed at my ideas. We battled and I lost every time. Until I gave up openly fighting and sat with my head down and my mouth closed, afraid to offer any suggestions. After those PLC meetings, I headed to my classroom and shut the door. My thoughts rolled around my head like clothes in a dryer, spinning together. “I hate this. It isn’t fair. I’m not doing what they said.” On and on, I complained and whined. Every Friday a giant tantrum, feeding my own pride. Three years of misery.
I acted a lot like Jonah.
Jonah Refuses to Surrender to God’s Character
Nineveh listened to Jonah’s message and repented of their evil ways. Even though Jonah, in surrendered obedience went to Nineveh, his heart toward this enemy never changed. He wanted their destruction, not their repentance. Jonah sat alone outside the city of Nineveh. Bitter and angry because God withheld the destruction of the city, Jonah sat alone outside the city after they listened to Jonah’s message and repented.
Jonah knew the character of God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity (Jonah 4:2) All the qualities that saved Jonah.
God continued to show compassion and love to Jonah, providing a leafy plant to grow and protect him from the sun. Still, Jonah pouted, preferring death to changing his attitude.
We leave Jonah, still miserable, but knowing God’s heart of compassion and love for all people. We don’t know if Jonah learned his lesson but we hope he does. John Piper wrote a poem showing a possible change in Jonah’s heart you can read if you click here.
How to Surrender to God’s Character
Sitting in that classroom, isolated and angry, I knew I could only change me. I needed to surrender to God’s character of compassion and love. I started to pray for these two teachers, every time I saw them in the hall or the lunchroom, before a meeting, when they came into my mind, I prayed for them.
Slowly, my heart softened. I listened to see how they were doing so I could pray more specifically. I cared about their lives outside of school. When I saw them, I smiled instead of keeping my head down. I tried some of their ideas and shared my successes. When I had a question, I asked for help.
Over the next two years, as I offered God’s character instead of my own, I enjoyed the company of these two women. We worked well together, sharing joys and problems in school and in our personal lives.
Don’t sit in angry isolation. God is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Surrender to God and share His character with others, especially those who upset you. Trust Him to change the relationship when you offer His love and compassion to your enemies.