In the spring of 1975, I was doing my student teaching at Aycock Junior High School in Greensboro, North Carolina.
My supervising teacher was Mr. Wallace Pegram. I have never forgotten what he told me one day: “There is a lot of psychology in teaching.”
Mr. Pegram was a wise man.
I have also discovered there is a lot of psychology in life too. I think the year 2020 confirms that statement.
On the afternoon of Friday, January 15, I am 46 years removed from my student teaching, but I’m still working. I haven’t departed the people business as I work as the director of operations at our church.
Today has been a busy people day.
We had the walk through to develop a punch list for finishing up a construction project.
The church’s old, but useful pickup truck failed its annual inspection. I spent time on the phone with our trusty mechanic figuring out how to get the truck back in shape.
Our Kids Director, along with an architect, and I walked an old section of the church to ponder how we might modernize the space.
I had a Zoom call with our assistant pastor and the leader of our French Swahili congregation. The pandemic has turned this community upside down too.
Since 9 this morning, church members wearing their masks have been dropping off groceries in Trinity Hall. These groceries will be distributed to two local food pantries we support.
Late that afternoon, after finishing up some e-mails, I was ready to head home.
When I walked into the church’s back parking lot, the predicted rainfall had arrived. I saw the leader of the Greenwood AA group setting up tents for the 5:30 meeting.
Since late March of 2020, Greenwood has been meeting on our church grounds. They are an amazing resilient, resourceful group of people.
Somehow, their leader and the members have not let the whims of mother nature deter them. When weather created an obstacle, they adjusted.
With winter here, they have crafted a two tiered meeting system.
Members following COVID-19 protocols can opt to meet in the fellowship hall, or with similar protocols, they can choose to meet in the parking lot under tents with a portable heater.
I asked their leader how the two meeting sites had been working out. His answer was honest.
He told me it took all of his patience and diplomatic skills to reach consensus on some of the essentials of the meeting formats. But, with time, most of the group has adjusted, complied, and attendance has been consistent.
In his own unique way, the Greenwood leader was saying to me—there is a lot of psychology in working with people who are worn down by COVID-19, America’s political unrest, and their own personal challenges with alcohol.
With this environment, it doesn’t take much for a person to be overwhelmed with the pressure generated from these unprecedented circumstances.
Reports I hear in the media indicate that our mental health systems both public and private are maxed out. This means many frazzled people do not have access to the help they need.
The Greenwood leader with an open and trusting heart said, “On several occasions, I have said to myself, I’m not going to wrestle anymore with some of my challenges, I’m going to hand them over to God to help me.”
And speaking of God, this has been an exceptionally tough week for friends of our family.
One lost her daughter to an aneurysm.
Another had her healthy mother die unexpectedly.
But the saddest, friends from church have a grandson who received a preliminary diagnosis of the incurable mitochondrial disease—he just turned one.
Yes, there is a lot of psychology in life.
Even with our mental health systems and their personnel tapped out, I will still hold out for hope.
My hope is grounded in one word—perseverance.
In all my years of working with people in all kinds of situations, circumstances, and environments, I am constantly amazed how individuals find ways to hang on by their perseverance.
I guess that doggedness comes from deep inside their souls.
Maybe, it is a reserve of energy tucked away in the quiet chamber of a restless heart.
Or perhaps, their perseverance is unknowingly supported by you, me, we, us when we reach out to them in their time of need.
That reaching out comes from love tucked away in our hearts.
In an interview about his new film, News of the World, Tom Hanks said this about the character he portrays: “When you have love in your life, you are a different human being.”
Right now, maybe more than ever, we need to use the love inside of us to make us different human beings.
1 Corinthians 13 reminds me—“if I don’t have love, I am nothing.”
Yes, there is a lot of psychology in teaching and in life.
And while we might not always recognize love in the moment, it is there hanging around waiting to be put to use.
Without question, love needs to be put to use now.