I’ve told my kids a million times to be really careful about the choices that they make because they’ll have to live with that choice forever. I’ve also said that choices are so important because there are no do overs in life. I still believe that…mostly.
But I’m starting to see things a little different lately. And I think that sometimes you do get a redo. They’re pretty few and far between, but they’re there. I wish they came along more often, there are so many things that I’d like to redo. I’m not talking about regrets necessarily, just things I’d do differently.
I remember being in school at Atwood Elementary. There was a girl named Zena who didn’t have any hair. I never talked to her, I don’t think she was around very long. She always wore a hat. One day we were out at recess and Zena was on the swings. A group of older kids grabbed the hat off of her head and threw it over the fence. Zena didn’t fight back, she didn’t yell or try to get them to stop. She just sat on the swing and cried. I sat on the swing next to her and watched. I distinctly remember thinking that my arm would fit through the fence, I could reach through and get her hat for her. I thought that for what seems like a long time but was probably seconds. And then I stood up and walked over to my friends, leaving Zena sitting on the swings crying. I wish I could do that over.
And there was this time in high school that I was at Cedar Point. There was a kid there, not from my school, that was in a wheelchair. He couldn’t ride any of the rides, and his friends would push him from ride to ride and then he’d wait in his chair at the end for his friends. I saw him several times throughout the day and this one time, he was waiting at the end of a ride and smiled when I walked by. I knew that I should have stopped and sat with him. I can’t explain what it felt like, but I just knew that I was supposed to. And instead, I kept walking with my friends. When we got off the ride, he was still there and his friends certainly should have been off before us. We walked past and he stopped me and asked me to help him find his group because they hadn’t come back for him. I told him that I couldn’t, that I didn’t have time. I’d like to redo that.
And this one time I was walking through the Metro Station in Washington D.C. and there was this young kid, maybe 13 or 14 years old laying against the wall sleeping. I was on my way to Chipotle to get lunch. I remember thinking that he was about the same age as my son. I felt like I should wake him up and ask him if he wanted to go with me and I’d buy him lunch. I stopped for probably five minutes and stood nearby watching what seemed like a million people walk past him. I planned out how I was going to approach him without startling him, I figured out what I was going to say. And then I talked myself out of it and left him there in the middle of February in the freezing cold. Man, I’d really like to do that differently.
These moments and others just like them have followed me for a long time. Taking up space in my head and reminding me of times that I’ve ignored that still small voice inside prompting me to help others. And while I can’t redo those exact things, I think I can, and do, redo them in my life now when I have the opportunity.
I don’t know if it’s age or motherhood, or simply trying harder to follow the model of Jesus in my life that has softened my heart towards others. But something has happened in my life that not only leads me to not let these type of moments pass me, but it’s also given me the chance for some redo’s.
Like when my son was in fifth grade, he was on a medication that made him lose his hair. His teacher asked me to come and do a presentation to the class so that they could better understand. We brain stormed together about how they could all be supportive and the class decided, with the teachers permission, that everyone would be allow to wear a hat when Logyn was around. That was kind of a redo.
I’ve also had the chance to lead a group of high school students to Camp Barnabas. CB is a camp completely designed for people with special needs. Last summer, the week I attended was “wheelchair week”. I spent the entire week being a cabin mom to twelve of the most beautiful, wheelchair bound young ladies and their assistants for the week. I had the incredible privilege of pushing them – up the steepest incline in by far the hottest, most humid weather I’ve ever been in – all week long and my only goal for the week was to make it the best week of their lives. I think that was a chance to redo.
And I don’t always give money to people that I see on the street. But I do sometimes, and I always try to make eye contact, smile and talk to them whenever possible. I’ve bought meals more times than I can remember and I have had some of my most memorable and favorite conversations with people that are living on the street. A redo for sure.
The older I get, the more I realize that I don’t want to depend on redo’s in life, because you don’t always get one. I want to do things right the first time. I want to listen and act when I feel like I should do something. I know I can’t change the world, but I can change someone’s day. And that’s how I want to live, making the world a better place, even if that just means picking up someones hat.