Scenario #1: The ADHD Child
His teachers have genuinely liked him because of these qualities, even as they noted he had a hard time sitting still and tends to socialize during class halfway through the day.
One teacher, who taught him a couple of years ago, felt he should be on Ritalin. The teacher meant well, but I disagreed with his recommendation and the teacher ended up not pushing it.
But then over summer vacation, this same teacher ended up giving my husband a ride and spent the journey inundating my husband with compelling reasons why this child needs Ritalin.
As I said, the reasons were compelling and the well-meaning teacher spoke from his heart. So since that ride, my husband periodically brought up what he sees as the need to take our son to the doctor and get a Ritalin prescription.
I kept holding out.
I prayed about it, but nothing major.
Suddenly, this same child came home from school with a note from this year’s teacher proclaiming that our son was the best listener in class that week.
This note pretty much put an end to any more thoughts of Ritalin for this child.
I could not have worked the situations this way.
First of all, I wouldn’t have thought of creating a note davka about being him a good listener.
Secondly, there is no way for me to force a teacher to write such a note and to write it with such good timing.
Only Hashem can arrange something like this.
Scenario#2: An Errant Teacher, a Resentful Child & a Distracted Mother
I felt awful upon realizing that due to my involvement with another child at that time (who was seriously acting out and getting kicked out of schools, and skipping class when he was in school, and getting into trouble), this child had been neglected—and there was nothing I could do it about now.
It was all in the past with no way to remedy the situation now.
So I just listened to him, validated his feelings, and told him how sorry I was that I’d missed the ball with him back then.
It was hard listening to him because all his words about his anger and hatred of that teacher were like daggers in my heart, accusations against me in my mind (although he wasn’t blaming me at all and on the contrary, really enjoyed getting it all off his chest).
But I felt the least I could do to make it up to him was to listen empathetically to him.
(Just so you know, it wasn’t things like physical abuse. He just felt that the teacher didn’t like him, was trying to separate his best friend from him, and handed out odd punishments like, “Write I will not speak in the middle of a lesson ten thousand times.”)
So like I said, I apologized to him, which is the first thing you do when you’ve sinned against a person.
But later at home, I also spoke about with Hashem and told Him how sorry I was for not involving Hashem more at that time and for neglecting this child in that way, and how I could be better in the future. I asked Hashem to heal my son’s nefesh regarding this issue, and so on.
A while later, the same teacher suddenly walked into this child’s classroom as a substitute teacher one day. But before he did anything else, he sat down and made a public apology before the entire class.
It went along the lines of: “Before anything else, I want you all to know that when I taught you a couple of years ago, I feel like I transgressed against you. I wasn’t the best teacher I could have been and I behaved wrongly in certain situations and treated some of you unfairly. I am truly sorry. I wouldn’t do now what I did then. If I made any of you feel bad in any way, please know that you are not bad at all and you shouldn’t feel bad about yourself. You’re actually very good and I was wrong. If any of you have anything you’d like to discuss with me, anything you feel you need closure on, that you’d like to discuss in private, I hope you’ll feel comfortable approaching me about it so that I can make it up to you.”
I’ve never heard of a teacher doing anything like this before.
This humbling speech from the heart rectified everything for my son. He instinctively let go of his grudges and hatred and truly forgave this teacher.
And now he likes this man a lot.
My son even found many merits for this teacher and excused him for his former behavior due to the stresses in his life. No one told my son to give his former teacher the benefit of doubt; it occurred naturally, inspired by the sincere apology from the teacher.
So again, I ask you: Is there any possible way I could have set this up?
Even had I spoken to the teacher myself, could anything I have said ever elicted this response of true teshuvah and sincere apology from the teacher?
Could I have I sent the “right” person to elict the response from the teacher?
Could I have imagined the teacher making a public confession and apology to the children themselves?
Could I have set up something so healing for the child?
No, no, no, and no.
Only Hashem can orchestrate things to work this way.
You Can Be You and Still Merit Heavenly Blessing!
Needless to say, sometimes you do need to invest in hours of prayer and good deeds and self-introspection just to make a tiny bit of headway in a particular area.
But in the above situations, heroic acts of prayer weren’t necessary. I didn’t even daven about the above every day. In the latter case, I found it too painful to focus on it too much and in the former, I just forgot.
In other words:
You DON'T need to be some spiritually advanced super-special person to get your prayers answered.
You can just be flawed struggling you and STILL merit Heavenly Compassion and Help.
You don’t ALWAYS need to invest heroic feats of spirituality to get your prayers answered.
Okay, sometimes you do. There are things I’ve been davening about for years now and the answer is still, “Not yet.”
And I still face some distressing problems that are hard to even talk to Hashem about.
So some things do demand copious prayer and teshuvah. But not everything!
Hashem just wants your heart.
Just be honest about yourself and show him that you’re willing to accept whatever message He’s giving you about what you need to work on in yourself. And even then, there are many times that Hashem gives us what we ask for without us jumping through even the smallest hoop (other than the mere request).
You can’t know ahead of time which prayers will be answered at the drop of a hat and which ones will take years.
And you can’t know what wonderful solution Hashem has planned for you that’s yours just for the asking.
For another story of how Hashem orchestrates the answer to your prayers in a way you could never imagine or arrange on your own, please see:
How Praying for Your Child Can Work