My friend Steve Huff wrote a beautiful piece on his high school drama teacher on Facebook. It made me remember teachers who influenced me. One in particular.
She was a biology teacher–a partner in a teaching team who taught all the biology classes at my high school in Nashville. Her name was Mrs. McGee, and her teaching partner was Mrs. Welch. I remember laughing heartily at calling them McFlea and Belch. (I did mention this was high school, right?)
On one winter day in the 10th grade, in biology class, I was not ready for our daily quiz. In fact, I had been sick the day before and missed it, so I was making it up. My lab partner started helping me with answers. Cheating. Shocked?
Mrs. McGee may have been shocked as she came over to me and removed the quiz from my hands. “Lia,” she said,”Do you not know that if you have to hide, what you are doing is wrong?” Or something like that. And I swear, these words have determined much of the mission of my whole life. It is certainly the reason I have advocated for an end to stigma for sex workers and LGBTQ folks.
What I learned? Don’t do stuff you have to hide. And even more than that, don’t hide stuff you do, even if the mores and conventions of this world aren’t ready to know that you do those things.
We all start out hiding ourselves. I think it’s because we have a deep seated fear that we won’t meet others’ expectations of us. But growing up, and being an adult means opening to the vulnerability of truly being ourselves, with no hiding. Because the only way we truly feel loved is if people truly know us. Otherwise, we think, “You can’t really love me, you don’t really know me.” It’s the easiest, biggest “but” we can have in life.
I know that God truly knows us, and truly loves us. No buts.
And for this, I am grateful.