At the tender driving age of 16, I ran over a dog. The whole story embarrasses me, but we are friends. So here goes. I was driving a Ford Tempo that I shared with my twin sister on a very dark farm-to-market road…with two kids I babysat for in the backseat…when I practically went airborne. This dog was massive. If I had not seen him with my own eyes, I would have sworn he was a small horse. It still flabbergasts me that the little car survived unscathed.
I was crestfallen to think I had hurt and probably killed him. But it was not safe to stop the car there with no streetlights around and two children to take care of. So I continued on to my destination with my heart pounding up near my esophagus. I returned home a bit later on the same country road. Remembering about where I had struck the poor animal, I pulled way over to the opposite side of the road and drove on the shoulder to make sure I missed him. And then I plowed over a surprise bump. It was so very dark, but I immediately knew that the dog had dragged himself to the other side of the road and laid down. And I ran over him again. I sought to show him mercy by keeping to the other side of the road and ended up hurting him worse. As I retell it I still feel all of the disbelief and shame I did that night.
My pastor’s reading of the Good Samaritan story on Sunday sparked this memory. From Luke 10 Jesus tells a parable of a man going down a road who was robbed and beaten and left half-dead. A priest and a priest’s assistant both came by, saw him and moved over to the other side of the street to avoid him. In so doing, just like I did all those years ago, they did him additional harm. The Samaritan man came along next, and even though he had places he needed to be, he dressed the man’s wounds and took him to an inn. Having other business to attend to, he paid someone else to nurse this stranger back to health.
I listened to Bob Goff interviewed on a podcast recently, and he challenged me on this very issue. (If you haven’t heard him tell a story or read one of his books, I would beg you to do so immediately. Love Does and Everybody Always just might change the way you view how you should interact with the world.) Bob’s message is always and forever to love people. And in this interview he said, “The best way to show someone they have worth is to be available.” For this to be true, the opposite is true as well. If you want to send a message that someone is inconsequential (whether you intend to or not), ignore the text, decline the invitation, take days to return the voice mail, “walk on the other side of the street”.
“Beloved children, our love can’t be an abstract theory we only talk about but a way of life demonstrated through our loving deeds.” 1 John 3:18 The Passion Translation
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Thanks for sharing. I don’t think you should feel ashamed. Sometimes, we are faced with hard choices (stopping to check on the dog versus caring for the children in the car). You did your best and the situation was not in your control. Your care and concern show your love. FMF14
Thank you for reading and commenting, Michele!
Thank you for this post.
I loved your quote that was suggested to tweet – and did!
I need to learn how to do that on my own blog.
Thank you, Tammy! Google click to tweet and you will learn how!
Misty Wagner says
We hit a dog once. I LOVE dogs. (I also ran over a cat once, and sobbed on the side of the road for an hour. I was inconsolable) Back to the dog… I REALLY love dogs. My husband pulled the car over- (similar details. No lights, super dark out) and I jumped from the car to run out and aid the dog. The owners house was near enough to have him emerging from the house. He and my husband both ran to me stopping me… They told me (this man I loved and this stranger whose dog was in agony) that the dog would be feral and attack me.
This was ridiculous. Seriously, what did these dumb men know? Obviously they were heartless…
Fast forward years and years later. We had a little puppy. (unbeknownst to us he was dying. We’d brought him home with terrible health issues) One day, this sweet little ten pounds of adorable, velvetty softness was walking and immediately started yelping and screaming so loudly. He was so upset and my daughter (17) and I could not understand what had happened. We rush to him…
I still have scars on my hands from his teeth. She has them too, but not as severely. My sweet little, snuggle puppy did in fact turn feral in the worst parts of his pain. It was surreal and sad. and I knew that the much larger dog from years before could have really caused some damage.
My point to this story is that I adore the thought provoking things you shared, but also, re: the dog… It’s good you didn’t stop.
We are called to love people. To give, help, share… But we can’t always. Sometimes it simply isn’t the best. This is why we have God’s still small voice in our hearts… (i also LOVE Bob Goff!)
Thanks for this perspective Misty and your personal experience!
I like the bigger point of how when we think we’re doing something good we’re hurting someone and to take more time to be there for others, not just those we like.
This made me think. Thanks.
Stopping by from a linkup.
Thank you so much!
This is a good challenge to think about- how we can often do the equivalent of “crossing to the other side” by holding back from people and their needs. Thanks for this thought-provoking post. And I have heard so much about Love Does and Everybody Always- I definitely need to read them!
Read them you must, Lesley! Thanks so much for interacting with me!
What a great story, Lauren. Funny how we remember things for so long sometimes. We picked up two “abandoned puppies” on our country road two nights ago. An aggressive coyote appeared as we were getting the “puppies” into the truck. Once home and settled, an on-line search revealed what I suspected . . . coyote puppies. Yikes! Does a good Samaritan return abandoned puppies? Well, these half-dog/half-coyote puppies were born in the wild, so we returned them to the same spot the next day. Mama was there with two more pups! They weren’t totally wild because Mama had a broken chain around her neck.
My husband has been back twice a day to feed her since returning the pups (not sure if weaned). We definitely don’t want to encourage more coyotes around here, which are a danger to the dogs we already have. We get the best “gift” dogs that are the most loyal and loving animals! I always wonder how people can dump dogs to their doom.
I know they are only dogs, but God put us in charge of caring for animals. Don’t even get me started on the topic of abortion . . . much sadder than dumping puppies. Thanks for the book referral. I’ll go check him out – haven’t heard of him before. Thank you for sparking thoughts to ponder! 🙂
You definitely should look up Bob Goff. You won’t be disappointed. Thanks so much for engaging!
Such a beautiful post. The last paragraph really rang true to me. I get so hurt when people wait days to answer a text. Everyone knows that everyone carries their phones with them everywhere and look at their phones constantly, so when your text is ignored, you really know you must mean next to nothing to that person.
I feel your pain on that one as well, Amy. Praying God’s best for you today. Thank you for stopping by my little corner of the inter web!
Oh, Lauren, what a beautiful (but sad) story! So true. To show God’s love through our actions is exactly what we are called to do. It’s our most important mission. Thanks for the touching reminder.
Thank you, Laurie for being a faithful bloggy friend.
Mary Geisen says
I love Bob Goff and this quote —> “The best way to show someone they have worth is to be available.” Amen!
Michele Morin says
I ran over a raccoon once, and was mortified. I circled back around and found its mate leaning over it with one small black paw on the dead raccoon’s body. Still very vivid in my memory.
I want to join you in practicing love alongside the road. It’s so easy for us to love “humanity” in general and then go rushing by all the particular humans in our lives who need a bit of TLC from us.
That’s a good way to put it Michele. Thank you for contributing to the conversation!
Katrina Hamel says
I love how you bring the Good Samaritan story into the modern world. It’s so easy to be disconnected and “walk on the other side of the road”, and never realize the impact we have in others by simply being unavailable!
Thank you Katrina. Wish I could take credit, but it was a God revelation.
I love the Bob Goff quote about being available…so true! Thanks for linking up with Hello Monday! Tanya – The Other Side of the Road
I love Bob all together! Thank you Tanya.
Tammy L Kennington says
Loved this post, Lauren! Thanks for the encouragement to love others instead of going “over the bump” again.
Peace and grace,
P.S. I’m sorry you experienced such a tough incident with the dog. 🙁
Thank you, Tammy.
Thought provoking piece X #mixitup
Thank you, Sam. Praying God’s best for you today.
Karen Del Tatto says
Thanks so much for sharing your story. I appreciate your humility and transparency.
Thank you for your encouragement and insights.
I’m humbled by your kind words, Karen. Thank you.
Calleen Petersen says
I hit and killed a squirrel once. If it had been a dog. . . I shudder to think.
Nicki Schroeder says
I have Bob’s books on my Kindle but haven’t gotten to them yet. I need to check those out!
You’ll be so glad you did, Nicki!
Oh, I know that must bother you, but like another commenter said, you did have young children with you who were your priority. There is no shame in making hard decisions. I remember one time I hit a dog who ran right in front of me and it was on a highway and there was no place to stop. I felt bad, but there was nothing I could do. So you are not alone.
It is messy and hard sometimes to be a friend, but it’s so important to be available when we are needed. You’re right , there are so many ways to “walk on the other side.” May God give us wisdom to know when and how to help.
Blessings to you! I’m your neighbor at #LMMLinkup.
Thanks so much for joining the conversation, Gayl!
Mary Hill says
I sometimes feel like a dog run over by people who are supposed to care. I hope I don’t make others feel that way too. I go out of my way to help them and they don’t call or answer texts. I just try to pray for them, but that feeling of being inconsequential is hard to let go of. I try to cling to the truth of how much God loves me. Thanks for sharing on the #LMMLinkup this week. Yours is the most clicked this week.
I understand that feeling, Mary and I’m sorry. I’m praying for you in this right now. Thank you for hosting c
Yvonne Chase says
Why would you be ashamed of hitting the dog? It was an accident. P.S. we have something in common. My first car was a light blue Ford Tempo. I drove it until it left me on the side of the road. I removed the license plate and took the bus home. Ha! Thank you for the reminder that our love has to be a way of life, not just mere words. Believe it or not, this ties into the forgiveness post at my blog where you left a comment. It’s about our hearts.
I used to call my tempo something I shouldn’t wrote here. Ha! Thanks for reading and commenting.
Anne Mackie Morelli says
It is interesting how the moments in our lives, both good and bad, teach us something and reveal something about God. Hitting the dog was traumatic, but it brought home the parable of the Good Samaritan in deeper way. It touched your heart, as well as your mind, about how many different ways we have now to “walk on the other side of the road” when we don’t feel like getting involved. Even when we know that we are called to cross the road and care for the wounded, broken, and outcast. Thanks for the great reminder to be intentional about stepping in to the hard places of life.
Thanks for reading, Anne.