HE WAS SUCH A LITTLE GIRL. STRAIGHT BLOND HAIR, BANGS SPILLING OVER her forehead and into her eyes—big blue eyes in a cute face. As I watched her, standing there all alone in the center of the room, those expressive eyes flooded over and the tears started making a trail down her face.
My heart hurt at this child’s sorrow while my mind argued with my heart. You don’t have time for this. You’re almost late as it is. As my mind told me not to get involved, my legs carried me over to where the little girl stood. Appointment or no appointment, I needed to see if I could help.
“What’s wrong, Sweetie?” I squatted down beside her so I could see those beautiful blue eyes peeking through the bangs.
She drew a quivering breath. “The other kids have already done their exercise laps, and I have to run all by myself.” She stared sadly at the floor. “They didn’t even wait for me.”
I smiled inwardly. Childish sorrows are so precious, so different from the battles we face as adults. Or are they? Since when did I like being left out? Aren’t so many of our addictions, our troubled homes, our anger or depression a result of feeling neglected, not wanted, or not accepted?
I thought of my schedule, yet how could I not make time for her? I slowly reached out and put my arm around her shoulders. “You know what, Sarah?* I can’t make those kids come over and walk with you, but I’ll walk your laps with you. Would you like that?”
She nodded her head, and we began our laps, her sobs echoing around the gym. This would never do.
“Sarah, honey, why don’t you tell me about your doggie?” The sobs grew less, and finally stopped altogether. It was as if the rain had stopped, giving the sun permission to burst forth in all its radiance. Her blue eyes sparkled, her lips smiled, and she chattered on in childish fashion. We continued our walk as I marveled at the transformation in such a little person.
What caused her pain? It was all unintentional on the part of the other kids, I’m sure. They had simply finished their exercise laps before she had. Maybe they should have waited for her; maybe she could have walked faster; maybe it was nobody’s fault, just the unfairness of life.
As we counted off the laps, Sarah bouncing along beside me, I thought of the many times Jesus has walked with me. When tears well up in my eyes and my chest aches with sorrow, He stoops down so He can look me in the eye. During such times I can almost hear Him say as He places His arm around my shoulders—I don’t control what others choose to do. I can’t change what you’ve done to yourself. Yet, I’ll come down to this earth, I’ll put My arm around your shoulder, and I’ll walk with you through this journey we call life. I will put joy in your heart and a smile on your lips. I will transform your heart and character and teach you how to stoop beside others, put your arm around their shoulders, and point them to Me.
Sarah and I finished our laps, and she ran off to play with her young friends. As I left the gym I breathed a silent prayer. Help me, Lord, to take time for others; to not be too busy to stoop down, put my arm around their shoulders, and take a walk with them.
*Not her real name
This article was first printed in 3ABN World. It is reprinted by permission.
Jill Morikone is a music teacher, a church pianist, and a host on the 3ABN Today cooking segments. This article was published October 15, 2009.