(Written June, 2019 – based on Luke 10:25-37)
- Voice 1: The man the Good Samaritan helped
- Voice 2: A man who suffered from modern bullying
I was travelling on my journey, following the road ahead, minding my own business. Out of the blue, suddenly, robbers confronted me. They attacked me and hurt me. They stripped me of all my clothing and belongings. They battered me and left me to die. I tried to protect myself, but I was overpowered – blows coming from every direction. I’d left myself vulnerable and unprotected, journeying on my own. But I had felt invincible. These things happen to other people – they don’t happen to me or anyone I know!
All I wanted to do was live my own life. All I wanted was to be independent, to follow my own interests and be the person I was made to be – a little bit different perhaps, but God still made me just as he’s made everyone else. I’ve done my best to follow my destiny, and to do the tasks put before me – by God, or by life itself – however you see it. But consistently, there have people who have made me stumble with their comments, their negativity around who I am and what I do. I’ve got used to that, but it’s when people have set out to deliberately hurt me – that’s when I’ve really been affected. There’s only so much resilience a man can have! And I guess, I finally cracked under the pressure. They’ve destroyed me, my confidence, they’ve destroyed my self-esteem, even made me doubt my own self-identity. I thought I could deal with anything, but they’ve found a way to break me at last.
And so, when the robbers finally made their escape, I laid by the side of that road, naked and vulnerable, wounded, alone, dying. There’s nothing I can do to help myself. I’m too sore. I’m too far from help. Hope is fading – only a miracle can save me now. But miracles happen to other people, they don’t happen to me.
I can’t see them anymore. Are they gone? Have they really left me in peace? Do they know that they have broken me – that their work is finished? I can’t truly rest. They’ve lulled me into a false sense of security before. I can’t relax. I can’t trust that they really have left me in peace to do what I can to rebuild myself. They might not be physically here right now, but still, they hold me prisoner. Time after time, they’ve knocked me down. Time after time, I’ve picked myself out only for them to return and knock me down again. Is there any way out, or should I prepare to end it all?
But then, hope came my way! A priest, a man of God, someone who was sure to help me appeared on the horizon, making his way towards me along the road. That burst of hope – I saw it as my chance. Maybe God has sent me a miracle after all! I had to make sure he noticed me – as sore as it was, I needed to get myself closer to the road to make sure he sees me. As humiliated as I was to be in such a state, I needed to make sure he heard my cry for help. If I can make myself seen and heard, help will surely come my way.
I was finally ready to seek help. But while my family and my friends clearly love me, and clearly wanted me to get through this, they were struggling to give me the time I needed from them. They were struggling because they were busy too. Struggling because my pain was also their pain. Struggling because they were ill-equipped to deal themselves with the damage that has been done to me, and through me to them. They were walking with me, but we were wondering, aimlessly, in the desert. It was natural for me to look to them, but they couldn’t really help me!
But no! All hope was crushed. The robbers battered my body, and now this priest, this so-called man of God, hurt me in another way! For instead of coming to my rescue, he’s treated me as though I’m vermin. He went so far as crossing the road to avoid me. All I was, it seems, was contamination to him – something that would make him unclean before God. I wasn’t worth his time and attention. And if I was worthless to this priest, does that mean I’m worthless to God too? Does that mean there is no hope?
I was getting desperate then – I’d been told over and over through the years that there were people there who would care for me and help me and walk with me as I rediscovered myself. But if it’s wasn’t my family and friends, who were they? Where were they? If I wanted help, I was going to have to learn to trust that not everyone will hurt me. I needed to learn to build new ways of survival, new ways of picking myself out when I’m down. Because, right then, it was survival, and not recovery. The pain was still there under the fragile cover I was somehow able to maintain. But how much longer could I keep this up?
Hope was fading, but there was still a flicker of hope that all would be well and I’d get the help I needed. A man I recognised as a man of the Temple. Surely he would help me as part of his service to God. Despite my doubt, thanks to that priest, I still called out, perhaps more desperately than before. I didn’t know how many more chances of help would come my way. This could have been my last chance.
I hadn’t yet quite given up hope. Maybe it was time to ring one of the numbers of the self help organisations I’d been given over the years. I’ve heard plenty testimonies, alongside the advice of those who were telling me what they would do if they were me. This time, I needed to turn to those who were not quite so attached for help – those who have training to support those, like me, who life has battered and bruised over the years. It will take a lot to trust though – I don’t know them. Would they really help me, or were they to just become another person who will add to my troubles?
But the Levite did the same thing as the Priest. He, too, crossed the road and walked by on the other side. All my hope was crushed. My spirit has been destroyed. All I could do then was wait – wait for the inevitable to happen. My end was surely coming. All I could hope was it wouldn’t take too long or be too painful for me to bear.
Why did I decide it was a good idea to seek help? Every number I rang was a similar story. We’ll help you, but it will take six months, or longer, until you get to the top of the waiting list. And then we’ll set our own agenda as to how to “fix” you, as quick as we can, so we can move onto the next person on the list. To them, I was just another statistic, of someone else ill-equipped to cope with life. They didn’t really hold out hope that I could make a complete recovery and begin to thrive. I was left feeling I had no hope, and no future.
I saw another man travelling towards me, but having lost all hope, I didn’t even bother seeking help. Then as he got closer, I recognised him as a Samaritan. Instead of someone who might help me, I now have to face an enemy. Is this the person who would finish me off? Was more suffering on my way before my end would finally come? Scared, I tried to slide back into the bushes at the side of the road. I tried to make myself invisible. But it was soon obvious this man had seen me. I braced myself for more humiliation.
I’d given up caring who’s around me. It was the easiest way to cope. I was still in survival mode, but I didn’t know why I bothered. All I was doing was protecting myself from others, and truth be told, from myself. But I knew I was standing on a very narrow bridge. The next time something happened to hurt me – well I was going to find it very difficult not to fall off. And I live in fear of that every time I have to interact with someone, particularly if I’ve struggled with them in the past. So when I saw another person approaching me, I braced myself.
But it didn’t come. Instead, I heard the gentlest, most caring, most loving voice I’ve ever heard. And I felt the most gentle hands on me as the man tended to the wounds on my body. I was in a bad way, unable to stand, sit or support my body in any way, but it didn’t matter. This man was looking after me as though I was his own flesh and blood. This man, far from marking me as the enemy in the way I’d done so to him, was tending to my every need. This man gave me hope – hope from the last place I expected to find it. This man gave me the priceless gift of renewed life when all had been lost.
For the first time, someone has walked voluntarily into my life, not for their gain, but for mine. And yet, if I had to stereotype them, I’d have said they are the same as everyone else who has bullied me over the years. But he was different! He gave me all the time I needed. He somehow understood what I needed, and found the key to unlock both the pain of my past and my potential for the future. I’ve never known that before – or maybe I’ve never been able to allow that before. Through the selfless actions of another, I’ve been healed from a lifetime of pain.
I’ve been humbled. I didn’t think i’d ever receive such love from a Samaritan, an “enemy” who would make such a difference to my life! And, what’s worse, had it been the Samaritan on the side of the road, would I have helped him? Maybe, but I wouldn’t have gone as far as he did. I wouldn’t have offered so much of my own time and resources for the care of someone else society dictates is my enemy. But this has taught me, in a way I’ve never understood before, what it means to be loved by God, and by my fellow man. Maybe, one day, I’ll have the chance to return that love – not just to my family and my friends, but to anyone and everyone. This has taught me to love ALL of my neighbours.
But more than that, he’s taught me so so much and helped me to love and value myself as I should. This man has helped me be the person God has made me to be, a valuable part of the community in which God has placed me. I know now – I can, and will, be that person – and maybe one day, I can repay that man who helped me in the way I can help another.