Newspaper Writing, Opinion, Sample Work

Faith: More Than Meets the Eye

faith eyePublished May 2014: The Messenger – Faith: A Fresh Take

Faith: More Than Meets the Eye

When I began my teaching career a little more than a decade ago, I always found it amusing to run into my college students at the mall, department stores or even the grocery store. They seemed shocked to see me out and about and not sitting behind a desk grading papers or instructing in front of a class. One time in particular I even heard one of my students whisper to her friend: “She wears jeans?”

Yes, I’m in the grocery store at 11 p.m. picking up milk because I forgot to get it earlier and my children need something to fill the cereal bowl. Yes, I may take in a movie at a local theater and yes, you may see me filling up my gas tank in pajama pants on my way to take the kids to school.

What my students fail to realize is that I’m human. I have a life outside of the classroom. I have two children who I root for on the football field and at dance recitals. Yes, I am in the classroom by day, but by night, I’m just as normal (or abnormal) as anyone else. When I’m shopping in the grocery store and scolding my kids for asking for expensive items or whining about things they “need,” those students who see me in “real people” clothes may not understand that every moment of my life is not about teaching. It’s something I love and something I love with a passion, but I am also a mom, a Catholic, a sister, a daughter and a friend. I can be stubborn, I can be unreasonable, and most importantly, I can be human.

When we see someone in an isolated role, it’s easy to make assumptions that are not always accurate. Unfortunately, the role my students don’t see me in surrounds my faith. During my teaching career, I’ve taught primarily at public colleges, where expressions of faith and church are limited to certain disciplines. It’s frowned upon for me to push my faith on my students and because I love my job, I oblige.

However, that doesn’t mean that my faith doesn’t exist.

My students don’t see me singing in church on the weekends. They don’t see me saying a silent prayer for my children and my family before I go to sleep. They don’t see me joining hands with my family before a holiday meal and they don’t see me asking God to keep my children safe as they jaunt off to school each day.

Far too often, we perceive others inaccurately because of what we don’t see. Someone may be having a horrendous day, lose control and spout off something offensive, judgmental or even hurtful. Immediately, many assume that this person has no sense of morals or no sense of what it means to be a faith-filled person. If I adhere to a deadline I’ve given a student and refuse to accept late work, it doesn’t mean I’m heartless or unreasonable – it means I care about their work, I care about their responsibilities and I refuse to enable them because it doesn’t help them learn. The reality is that I have faith in them.

We all have bad days. We all lose sight of what is important at times. We are all human. If we take the time to judge less, accept more and trust our faith, it may not come as a shock to learn that teachers, priests, police officers, etc. wear jeans and shop for milk at 11 p.m. and occasionally have bad hair days.

— Shannon Philpott

Read More Fresh Takes on Faith HERE

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