I’m currently reading (very quickly, I might add) Randy Pausch’s book The Last Lecture. The book follows his journey to prepare and deliver his last lecture at Carnegie Mellon University. Pausch had pancreatic cancer. Knowing he would eventually pass away, he wanted to leave something behind for his loved ones (especially his young children) to remember him by. It’s a short read, but very powerful. Hilarious at points and deeply moving at others.
He designed his lecture around the idea of achieving ones childhood dreams. As I’ve been reading this book, I’ve been doing some thinking about my own childhood dreams.
I can always recall wanting to be a medical doctor. In fact, I wanted to be a surgeon…something like one of those emergency room surgeons on ER. Those of you who know me well know that the idea of becoming amy kind of doctor was a long-shot. But, even going into my freshman year of high school (when one begins to be able to take an honest look at his goals in the realm of reality), I desired to become a medical doctor. Some of it had to do with the image and status that comes along with being a doctor. However, a large part of wanting to become a doctor lied in the idea of being able to help people.
One thing you should know is that I absolutely can’t stand hospitals. I don’t enjoy setting foot in these large facilities. The smell…the people…the fluorescent lights…it’s just not for me. That all may have something to do with one of my first experiences in a hospital. One the day that my mother took me to visit my ailing grandmother in the hospital (I was too young to be a visitor), she passed away. Before we could step into the room, she had died. My mom went into check on her and discovered that she was already gone. So, she wisely had my father escort my sister and I downstairs. I didn’t fully understand what was going on, but I knew it wasn’t good. Not being able to see my grandmother, but knowing she was in the hospital, gave me a skewed view of hospitals.
But, maybe that experience played a factor in my desire to become a medical doctor. Maybe I wanted to be able to do something so other grandchildren would be able to visit their grandparents before they pass away? I’m not sure what the major motivational factors were, I just know that I had the desire to be a doctor.
Back to my freshman year in high school. “Why”, you may ask. Well, this is pretty much where my dream died. I had always enjoyed my general science classes throughout grade school. Doing experiments, collecting insects, dissecting things…it was pretty cools stuff. Then came Biology 1.
In all honesty, I was extremely excited about this class. I was totally stoked to dive into some frogs, to debate evolution, and to learn. But, it was obvious within the first week of school that the teacher for this particular course and I would not get along. She had it out for me, for some reason. Granted, I was a bit of a smartass in high school (some of you are saying “was?”). I was known to view school as more of a social activity than a learning environment. But, this lady, in all seriousness, was always trying to find something to blame on me.
She wrote me up several times. She had some sort of bizarre system that you could get written up six times before receiving a detention. I was the kind of student who knew his boundaries. So, once I had that fifth write up, I began to do every thing I could to behave during class. One day, I sat down at my desk, got out my work, and waited for class to begin. I realized my pencil needed sharpening. So, I got up to sharpen my pencil. As I was returning to my seat, the bell rang. As the bell rang, the teacher, in a celebrative tone shouted, “Morris, that’s it. You’re getting a detention for tardiness.” I asked, “How can I be tardy if I’ve been sitting down at my desk for the last four minutes with my work out and my book turned to the page you have written on the chalkboard?” This kind of logical question was not something an irrational scientist would deem acceptable. She had a huge smile on her face as she wrote out the detention slip.
This lead to me doubting my desire to be a medical doctor. If I desired to become an MD, I would have to take more science classes. If this was the kind of evil person that taught science, I really didn’t want any thing to do with it. One teacher ruined my dreams. It’s not that I struggled through the class. I think my grades were okay. It’s just that the person I encountered in the classroom really destroyed my eagerness and excitement about the subject matter.
All of this (the doubt of whether I should become and MD) would be confirmed during the first grading period of Chemistry 1. I had a bit of a problem with chemistry. I think it was mainly an attention problem (pretty much a lack of me paying any kind of attention). My grades pretty much sucked in Chemistry 1 and 2 (yes, while I struggled through Chem 1, I went on to the next level…mainly because I truly enjoyed the teacher…we had a good relationship…I didn’t interefere with her teaching, she didn’t interefere with my socializing). I’m glad that I’m not a doctor…and you should be too. I have some problems with retaining information that is actually valuable. I can tell you who played drums on a ridiculous number of records. But, I couldn’t even begin to explain any thing involving any kind of biology or chemistry. And, I also struggle with numbers…which could really cause some medication mix-ups. I think it all worked out the way it was supposed to be.
While I may not have become a medical doctor, I believe the ministry field is one in which I am involved in helping people. There is a lot of spiritual, emotional, and physical healing that takes place within the ministry.
And, while that one teacher did help ruin my desire to become a medical doctor, I did learn a valuable lesson from her. When I look back on that Biology 1 class, I am reminded that I have an awesome responsibility before me. I can either turn people on to Jesus or totally turn them off from Him. The way I interact with people within the church and community will play a major part on whether or not they want to have any thing to do with the message I’m bringing. One of my biggest fears is to one day run across a blog where someone is writing about how this idiot pastor ruined their hopes and dreams of becoming a pastor and then realize they are writing about me. So, while that teacher crushed one dream, she has helped motivate me to do my best to avoid crushing others dreams…and that’s an important lesson to learn.