10:25 am, Dec. 12, 2009
Have you ever been in an altercation and witty articulation eludes you?Â 15 minutes later the perfect comeback is evident, but in the moment you are so clouded by emotion and passion that you stand silent and stunned.Â Or worse yet, you mumble something an 8 year old would come up with on their best day.Â It leaves you dissatisfied, frustrated, and regretting that you canâ€™t go back in time and blow them away with your finely tuned argument.
I often feel a similar regret when it comes to situational benevolence.Â I see a homeless man shaking his cup of change, and donâ€™t have time to grab him some lunch, so I do nothing at all.Â I drive past a broken down motorist on the highway and I do not stop to help.Â We all have had these experiences, and often feel regret that we did not help.Â If only we could go back in time and change our responseâ€¦
A few days ago I drove to the bottom of an exit ramp to see a man holding an â€œOut of Workâ€ cardboard sign.Â As I pulled up and stopped, we made eye contact and held it for at least 90 minutes.Â Maybe it was two seconds; itâ€™s hard to tell for sure.Â As the light changed and I hit the accelerator, I glanced down at two large, hot pizzas in the passenger seat that I was bringing home to my family.Â Immediately I realized that I could have given him a piece or two of hot pizza on this cold winter day, and the regret hit me.Â I had missed my opportunity to help this man in a small but meaningful way.Â But then something happened.Â I realized I could change the past.Â I could change my passive behavior.Â I could still give him a piece of pizza.Â With the cunning skills of Batman, I quickly swerved into the left lane and turned at the yellow light.Â I was going back in time.Â I didnâ€™t need to reach 88 mph, but I did need to loop around 4 city blocks to return to the scene of my indifference.Â And finally pulling up to the intersection, flashing my hazard lights and rolling down my window, I changed the past and the future at the same time.
My hope is that our futures can change as we redeem the past.Â By combating our selfishness to the degree of going back in time, it can allow us to become more aware of opportunities in the present.Â Maybe even someday our knee jerk reaction will be full of grace and generous benevolence.Â If we are to be articulate and quick witted in any area of our lives, may it be in love and generosity.