Its been a few weeks since something occurred in my life. From the moment it happened, I knew its moral consequences. I have hesitated writing about it because it is an ongoing theme of guilt and challenge to me – something I just cannot master.
The truth is, that I am not a Good Samaratin. I would like to think that I am, but the reality is that when confronted by threatening situations, I am more likely to cross the road and ignore the goings-on than do anything about it.
About a month ago, I was leaving work in the city and on my way to the train station when I heard a man yelling. This is not in itself unusual, and I actually thought at the time that he was just having a light hearted, yet lively discussion with a mate. As I got closer, I realised the gravity of the situation. A young woman lay helpless between the man and the wall having just been struck by him. Her mouth bleeding, her hair shabby and her legs crumpled on the ground. The man was screaming at her, telling her it is all her fault he hit her, and now had blood on his shirt. As I got closer, she managed to stand and walk away with as much dignity as she could muster.
I bewildered myself at that point. As she passed me, I had realised what was really going on, and I feared for her safety as I noticed him continue his verbal assault as he followed her down the street. I did nothing. Recalling the story of the Good Samaratin in my mind, I felt like a fraud. I could have walked alongside her, showing her that someone cared while providing a protective barrier between her and the verbal abuse. I could have ensured she made it to some sort of transport so as not to be enticed back to the abuser through promises of returning her home.
I am, however, not a Good Samaratin. It is true that I actually feared I would become a victim myself. Being pregnant and on my way home from work at night made me feel particularly vulnerable. Is this a reasonable fear? There were plenty of other people around the place who, seeing that I was standing up for her, may have sided with us to provide more protection? Surely? The uncertainty is probably what kept me from helping.
But I have a bigger problem. I find it difficult to divert from what I am doing or where I am going to pursue a new task. I was walking to the station, with the station as my only target. To decide to divert from this requires a decision to create a new, uncertain target. This is distressing as it requires weighing up the pros and cons and…. too late, I’ve already passed by, and well, I can’t go back now. I have done this too many times in my life.
This inability of mine to divert from my planned task or target is an ongoing issue of contention in my spiritual life. God continually challenges me to break free from the confines of My Way, to find the freedom in God’s Way. To help the woman is a kind of freedom. I can be free of what the world thinks of me – the crazy pregnant woman who stood up to a crazy violent man despite herself. I can be free of the incessant need to follow the plans I set for myself when there are clearly other issues that need to be addressed in the moment. I can be free to help a human being who clearly needs help.
The Good Samaratin is free. He sees a need and fills it, despite the fact that fulfilling the need pulls him away from the road he was travelling. I repeat that I am not a Good Samaratin. But I hope one day I can be free like he was.