About a week and a half ago, last Tuesday, I was driving to work. I was talking to my mom as I often do just like any other day. My mind was filled with memories, Christmas lists, money worries etc…… I noticed a little ways up the road, a woman coming across a bridge up ahead. Now, because of TV movies and watching too much of the news, I began to slow down my 75mph speed as a precaution in case this was someone who thought it might be fun to throw something off the bridge onto the cars below. It all happened in a matter of seconds. This woman had decided that she no longer wanted to live, came over the side and jumped off of that bridge, landing in front of my car on the busy interstate!
I swerved, screaming, trying to articulate to my mom what just happened. I pulled over a little ways from the scene just to be safe and began jogging back to this nightmare that had just unfolded in my lane in front of me! A small group had already gathered around her and I was surprised to see that the woman had already re-gained consciousness (after seeing her land like a rag doll and unconscious). She was trying to fight us to get up while bleeding on the pavement. I tried to soothe her, telling her that help was coming and that she was hurt. I asked her if there was any phone numbers I could take down and call for her but she said she did not have anybody. The paramedics and officers arrived. They could not believe that this woman was not run over and kept saying it. They allowed her to sit up as they examined her injured leg and face. She is going to be just fine with just a scraped up face and broken leg! As I was standing with the only other witness that cared enough to stop, a kind sweet faced lady on the way to pick up her daughter, we began talking of what we saw. She did not see the woman jump like I did, only something in the road. As I was trying to swerve, slow down and pull over she was trying to stop traffic that just kept driving around the woman and blowing the horn. We could not believe how many just drove by blowing the horn and kept going!
On the morning of Christmas eve, my husband and I took our 3 kids to eat a late breakfast. I mentioned that there was an elderly man eating alone and how sad that was at Christmas when the place was full of families. Teen could not even enjoy her food because of it and wanted to go over and ask him to join us but is very shy about such things. My husband and I wanted to as well but we made excuses such as he probably wanted to be alone or that he probably had a house full of family and wanted some time alone to enjoy his paper. With a determined look, she went over to the man, wished him a Merry Christmas, and told him there was plenty of room at our table. He joyfully accepted and for the next hour we were all entertained with stories of this gentleman’s life. He introduced himself as Jim O’Neal, the “84 yr old Black Irishman”. He insisted that he pay for our meal but my husband had gladly already paid for his. We all left the restaurant that morning feeling happy and blessed.
These events got me to thinking about how we live our lives. Do we stop our hectic pace and self-absorbancy and help those in need or do we just drive by and blow the horn? Do we go the extra mile to bring a smile to someone’s face or do we make excuses to ease our conscious so we feel better about not going out of our comfort zone?
Christians, myself included, are commanded to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). Let’s not also forget the golden rule to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Luke 6:31). There is verse after verse where we are to show Christ’s love through serving and loving others. However, our selfish nature tends to fight with that kind of selfless love. For this upcoming new year my prayer is that I allow God to continue to use me to bless those around me. I pray that my children will continue to live out a life of serving God by being kind and loving others and that my husband and I can be an example of that love. Who knows? Maybe if we step up and go that extra mile there will be more people who don’t feel so empty and alone enough to jump off a bridge and instead end up sharing stories over a meal with new friends.
Are you someone that in this new year brings blessings or blows horns?