I have had people suggest that perhaps I am too transparent with my students. I don’t think that’s true. I tend to admit to having problems. I think it’s called being real.
As a mature Christian – read old (I’ll be 70 in February) – I have been through a lot in my life. I have openly shared that in my classes. I also share that I would not have made it through a lot of those experiences if it hadn’t been for God. I believe that knowing that I deal with depression has helped my students – both here at ACU and at previous schools – feel that they can come to me and talk about their problems. The fact that I have admitted that I have not always followed Christ as I should have has helped students know that they could come to me with ANY problem they were facing – including those of a sexual nature. They know I will NOT be shocked by anything they share, and I will do my best to be understanding and loving. They also know I am not going to tell them something is right when it’s not! I’ve sinned enough in my life to know the consequences of “sowing the wind,” and all that “reaping the whirlwind” I’ve done would be wasted if I did not share it with my people!
Sheila Walsh has written a number of books about her experiences trying to be the “perfect Christian” that she thought she should be. When she finally had a major breakdown, she spent some time in a mental hospital dealing with depression. She came out of that experience aware of her own brokenness, and clearly empathizing with others who were also broken. She has shared the thought that we can minister to more people when we do so from our own brokenness than we ever could from pretending we don’t have any problems.
We are all on a journey, running into the arms of Jesus, or trying to do so. I have recently become aware that I am still broken, and will be until I stand in His presence one day. That’s okay. He loves me, anyway, and letting my students know who I truly am might just help them run into Jesus’ arms without making some of the same mistakes I did.
Gayle Brosnan-Watters, PhD