Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Looking Up to the Good Samaritan

Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, £when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”

And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
Luke 10:30-37

OK, this may seem like a stretch, but it's where my brain went yesterday afternoon. I kept thinking about this passage of scripture as my day went on. But for the first time I was focused on a different character in the story. Whenever I've read it before I have always focused on the driest, the Levite and the Samaritan, yesterday I found myself thinking about the wounded man.

Nobody beat me up, and I certainly wasn't left for dead on the street, but I did find myself badly wounded and on the ground, literally. Over the years I have had a lot of upper back and neck problems. Occasionally I have had some trouble with my right hip. Yesterday afternoon it all came to a head and as I was vacuuming the boys' room something horrible happened. I found out later that my hip and the L5 disc (?) in my back went out. All I can say is I'm not sure I've ever felt anything quite so painful. (Granted I had epidurals during both my deliveries.) First it was like this spasm, I knew something was going wrong, then I lost my right leg, I couldn't even feel it, and then pain, just intense pain.

Poor Jake came in and I couldn't even explain what was happening I just calling out,"oh my God, oh my God." And yes, it was at least partially a prayer. I finally got down on my knees sprawled out over the lower bunk then eventually prostrate on the ground. I had Jake trying to rub out the lower right side, then I tried turning back over, Victoria brought me ice at one point, it was nearly an hour of assorted positions and levels of pain, all severe. Eventually the kids kind of abandoned me. I was alone in my pain and suffering. My heart and mind were racing. I know I needed to get up but had no idea how to. Then my children's concern for me went completely by the wayside. When they came back it was for their own concerns. "Mom, can I have a snack?" I was trying desperately to get off the floor at that point. "Mom, Ethan won't let me have a turn." At that point I had made it back up to "sprawled on the bunk." I was a little direct with my daughter when I told her I couldn't be concerned about that right at that moment. Jake's initial concern had wavered, but honestly I can't remember exactly how now because so much of the pain was blinding. But Jake would definitely have been the one who played the role most closely to the good Samaritan in my story.

So this is what made me give thought to the man on the road in the story of the Good Samaritan, a somewhat supporting role in the story of the hero. Here's what I was thinking. Even in Jacob's very good intentions to help me, he had to hurt me. Grabbing hold of him hurt, lifting me to my feet was painful, even has he tried to rub out the spasm, he inflicted pain.

What about the good Samaritan? Surely as he cleaned the man's wounds there was pain. In all probability as he lifted him from the ground, holding him, there were bruised and broken places that he touched that caused pain. But what choice did he have?

It's rare that we see actual physically bruised and broken people on the streets around us. But what about the emotionally and spiritually wounded who we are doubtlessly surrounded by? What about them? The grieving, the disappointed, the betrayed?

Recently I have known a woman who has been suffering. And I have tried to come alongside her and lift her up, give her a view above her circumstances, help her to see who she is and the promises of God that are for her. But she's been bruised and broken by someone she loves. And as I have tried with good intentions to lift her up, I have figuratively "grabbed" in the bruised and broken places, unintentionally intensifying her pain. What is the answer then? Is it better to leave someone on the ground and in their pain?

Last night after the little kids had been put to bed Neal and Jake ran to the store for me. It was one of the errands on my list of things to do that hadn't gotten done because of my back. While they were gone I made the mistake of laying on the floor and then I could not get back up. Through great effort and pain I finally got up and even made it into the chair where I am sitting now. But when I tried to rise to my feet I couldn't. Tears were running down my cheeks, I was in such intense pain. Jacob came back and wanted to help me up. He had good intentions of getting my to my feet, but I had to push him away, the pain was more than I could, or at least was willing to bear. I needed him to wait until my desire to rise up outweighed my need resist the intensity of the pain.

It's a fine line of balance. Finding the place where we can help and the hurting can be helped. If we try to help before they're ready, we might make their pain worse. But also there is no healing found laying on the ground alone, at some point we have to push through it and rise up, but the when and how of that has to be determined by the one who feels the pain, not just the one who sees it.

1 comment:

Susan said...

oh my dear sweet friend.......I am so sorry this happened to you! Just as in just about everything else in our lives.....been there done that....except this happened to me leaning over to pick up a towel off the bathroom floor! Unbelievable pain.
Would you like to borrow my walker? hey....don't laugh! That's the only way I could get to the bathroom....sitting down was another story.......screaming and crying wouldn't aleviate the pain!
Pain stinks!