Ashlie Miller: Revisiting my teacher

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 12, 2023

By Ashlie Miller

As a first grader, a dear Sunday school teacher in my church led my classmates and me in making our own book of the Gospel. It was a simple publication — mere crayon illustrations on yellow construction paper bound together with pieces of yarn through punched holes. The years have dulled the bright yellow paper. The pictures are crude and simple and no doubt inaccurate depictions of the time and place (Jesus was not the blonde-haired, blue-eyed man I had once envisioned). However, the truths within the pages — that Jesus loves us all, that He came to earth, He was tempted but without sin, that He died and rose again — those truths are unchanging. I revisit that little book from time to time and have even shown it to this teacher in more recent years.

Although we no longer attend the same church from over 40 years ago, I have continued to glean from my teacher’s wisdom, as we more recently served together as an older adult and younger adult. I have watched her personal ministry grow as she shares encouragement with various ladies’ groups. I have even read her column, right here in the Salisbury Post. That beloved teacher is Ann Farabee. We have kept in touch occasionally, staying aware of each other’s successes and trials in life.

In recent years, I have experienced a lot of losses. My father died when I was very young; over a year ago, my mother also died. I am at that age — those sandwich years — where I am caring for babies and my parents. I am watching the generation I looked up to slowly fade and move into eternity. It is both lovely and lonely. My parents and the parents of many of my friends were of that Jesus Movement generation of the 1970s. My faith stands on their shoulders.

Life has challenged me to be intentional. I see that life is fleeting. I know that it is a vapor. I’m trying to capture it!

That being said, I am finding myself seeking out those I love and wanting to continue to learn, for though I have matured, I am still growing. I want to continue to be teachable.

That teacher who taught me, likely in her early 20s those many years ago, to make that little book has so much more to teach me, as she, too, has journeyed through life and learned along the way. She has more I can glean from, more advice to offer, more motherly lessons that I can learn from her, more love to share, more hugs to give and tears to wipe.

Sure, I could Google my next question in life. I could find a Facebook group to offer my questions and seek recommendations. But, I have a real teacher, one who has watched me grow, one whom I have seen walk through life, that I can — and should — love and learn from.

My challenge to my peers and contemporaries is to revisit what you were taught and your teachers. Who do you credit with some of your foundational learning? Can you look down and see the shoulders you are standing on? Go find them; go reconnect with them. Take them a coffee. Let them know you needed them then, and you need them now. I suspect they need you, too, to know they are still valued today.

Ashlie Miller and her husband, pastor of Grace Covenant Church in South End Charlotte, grew up in China Grove and are raising their family of five children in Concord.