I really felt ashamed at the end of that day. But, I learned something that I have never forgotten.
I was in the fourth grade. “Jane” sat in the chair behind me. She often drooled on her desk. She was blond, lanky, and physically challenged. She had difficulty with coordination and often fell down on the playground during recess. On those occasions, she sometimes returned to class with skinned and bloody knees.
One day, the class was returning from recess. Several boys were walking into the classroom and began making fun of Jane. I was already in my chair. They laughed and then I laughed. A few seconds later I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder. I turned around and Jane was looking at me with such a sad look.
“You are my friend and you laughed!”
I felt sick. No excuse. No justification. No good reason. All I knew to do was to say, “I’m sorry.” That sounded pretty small and lame given what I had done. I had betrayed her.
How in the world could I have done something like this? How could I have laughed at someone who had so many obstacles to overcome and only wanted a friend? The truth is that I got caught up in the moment and ignored what was really important.
Now, in 2010, I know that it is still possible to get caught up in whatever is taking place at the moment and forget what is important in life.
Instead of letting the momentum of the moment determine what I do or say, I would like to define the moment:
- I want to create space in my life for people like Jane. I would like to make room for the disadvantaged, the poor, and those who face many obstacles.
- I want to make a difference in the world instead of allowing others who speak loudly or forcefully to fill my mind with negative, defeatist thoughts about present and future possibilities.
- I want to be intentional with the choices in my life instead of taking the path of least resistance.
I would love to hear your thoughts about this. When do you tend to get caught up in the moment? What has helped you, at times, to move beyond this temptation?