Do you ever desire a “do-over?” Or wish you could just push “rewind” and record a new response over one you regret?
I had one of those moments this past weekend.
It was halftime of the girls’ high school basketball game. The varsity cheerleaders were in position, ready to debut their coed routine. I was perched near center court, second row. Phone raised, thumb poised. I pressed the little red circle to start my video as the music began.
The team wowed the crowd with their flips, libs and pyramids. They nailed their jumps and cheers. Then, about halfway through the routine, one of the cheerleaders limped over to the sidelines. She sat down right in front of me, holding her knee, in obvious pain.
And I just kept videoing.
Another cheer mom, seated a few rows further up in the bleachers, finally ran down to the floor to assist her.
And I just kept videoing.
The routine ended, and the coaches and some of the other cheerleaders rushed to the shaken girl’s side. They carried her off the court so the athletic trainer could evaluate her.
Guilt began to swell up within me like the injured cheerleader’s knee.
Why did I keep videoing? Why didn’t I stop and help her? I was right there! She was right in front of me!
I was not “The Good Samaritan.” Instead, I was the one who passed her by.
As I reflected on this the following day, I identified three things that kept me in my seat:
- Agenda. I was too focused on capturing a video. I had difficulty deviating from My Plan. I felt conflicted.
- Appearances. There were a lot of people at the game. I didn’t want all of those eyes on me. I felt self-conscious.
- Adequacy. “I’m not the coach. I’m not a nurse. I’m not her mom.” The “I’m Nots” overshadowed the “I Ams.” I felt inadequate.
I wondered if the ones who passed by the wounded man in the biblical story of “The Good Samaritan” struggled similarly. It’s a familiar parable, but worth revisiting…
Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road. “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side. (Luke 10:30-32)*
Perhaps their tight schedules wouldn’t allow for a time-consuming detour. Maybe they also cared too much about appearances. They could have minimized what they had to offer, or rationalized that it was someone else’s responsibility.
“Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’ (Luke 10:33-35)
The difference? The Samaritan not only saw the man, but he felt compassion for him. True compassion will lead to action. He did what he could. And it was enough.
So I’m asking God for a “do-over.” To be ready the next time I encounter a need. To feel genuine compassion. To let go of my own agendas, my preoccupation with appearances, and my fears of inadequacy. To offer what I have. To do what I can.
“Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.” (Luke 10:36-37)
Jesus didn’t ask us to help everyone.
But with His help, we can each help someone!
(P.S. I’m currently kind of obsessed with this song. Sharing, because it seems to fit with this post. And because I’m obsessed.)
*Scriptures are from The New Living Translation.