There’s a Story in Every Seat!

by Stacy Leicht

The statement, “There’s a story in every seat,” is something I say often in my university classes at UNC-Greensboro. My students have heard me say it so much, they roll their eyes as soon as they hear me start the phrase. However, I say it often because I want it to sink in. As soon to be teachers, it is critical that they understand that each child sitting in one of the seats in front of them comes with their very own story.

Each story has a beginning, middle and the future of that student; each one knows more about their family stability, the love or neglect they come home to, the food they have abundantly, or the food they wish for daily.

While some of these stories are easy to see physically on our students, many of their stories stay untold, until the student becomes trusting of their teacher. If you’re a teacher, you know what I mean. Trust does not come easily for children these days and rightly so. Children are told to be aware of strangers, don’t go anywhere with a stranger, don’t talk to strangers, and the boundaries that parents place on their children are drawn from the time they are born. This is done out of love and is smart for every parent to do for safety!

Teachers know that students do not learn from people they do not trust. This is especially true if they have come from a family with trauma, abuse, neglect, or poverty.

Therefore, I tell my students, it is imperative you put the work in with your students to not only teach them academics, but to learn about them as people. Learn their hobbies, what they like, what they dislike, what they do on the weekends, and converse with them daily about the things that matter to the students.

The same is true of adults. There is a story in every adult seat. Someone’s story may include an illness, a divorce, a deceased child, the loss of a job, or like me, an autoimmune disease that makes me feel tired a great deal of time. Yet on the outside, all we might see is someone that is cranky and upset with those around them.

We may only be able to see the outside, but God is not limited in His perception. He told Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature…for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 NASB). We may not know everyone’s story, but God does. When we encounter someone who is difficult, we need to pray for God’s insight and compassion before we respond to them.

We may have more in common with that person than we think. Getting to know someone will help us to know their story and how to best encourage them. Taking the time to understand someone on a deeper level will enable us to love them as God does.

Remember, every time you look at an empty chair, someone will sit there with a story. Let’s try to love each one!

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born, I set you apart… Jeremiah 1:5 NLT

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Born in Dearborn, Michigan, Stacy Leicht grew up loving animals, nature, and books. She worked as an elementary school teacher and literacy curriculum facilitator for fifteen years before becoming an adjunct professor and then a supervisor in the Education Department at the University of North Carolina–Greensboro. Stacy lives with her husband, Rick, and their rescue dog, Bella, in North Carolina. They have two grown children, and Stacy treasures time with her two grandchildren. She loves reading, baking, and snorkeling at the beach.

In Stacy’s first children’s book, Good One, God, it is Kelsey’s first time going fishing out in the Gulf of Mexico with Grandad and big brother Zach. When the beauty of a great blue heron prompts Grandad to say, “Good one, God,” Kelsey’s eager to find her own praise item too. But with each amazing miracle of nature, Zach beats her to the punch. Will Kelsey get her chance to thank God before it’s time to head home?

Join the conversation: Have you ever been surprised by someone when you actually got to know them?


4 thoughts on “There’s a Story in Every Seat!

  1. Great message! Trust is sometimes hard earned, and empathy is a wonderful gift. If I am open and transparent it will be easier for others to be open too.


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