I was awakened yesterday morning around 5am by someone screaming. In my sleepy state, I assumed it was my 2 y.o., who usually wakes up early and screams until someone gets her up. So I stumbled down the stairs and peeked into her room, only to find her still sleeping.
As I made my way back to my room, I heard the yelling again and realized it was coming from outside. My first assumption was that it was another domestic disturbance at the duplex across the street, and I lifted the shade at my bathroom window to take a look.
What I saw was a teenage girl standing on the sidewalk, looking right up at my window. When she saw me her yelling intensified, especially since my gut reaction had been to drop the shade. She was yelling things like: “Can someone please help me find my family? I’m scared. I don’t know what to do! Somebody? . . . anybody?!” She was clearly in panic mode, and became louder and more insistent as she wandered back and forth in the street.
By this point, my husband was up and wasted no time calling 911. The police were there within minutes and, I’m ashamed to admit, I breathed a sigh of relief as I headed back to bed, knowing that nothing more was required of me.
But sleep eluded me. I couldn’t get the incident out of my head. I knew, and my husband assured me, that we had done the only sensible thing, so why couldn’t my mind let it rest? After all, the girl had been bigger than I, could have been on drugs, or mentally unstable, or even carrying a weapon, so I could have been endangering myself and my entire family had I opened my door to her.
Even though those concerns were all valid, I still felt like the priest and Levite passing up the wounded traveler in the story of the Good Samaritan. It really bothered me that in this crazy world we live in my natural inclinations so often must be overruled by fear. My mother heart wanted to go to her, soothe her, help her in some way. Instead, I dropped the shade and left it to the police to handle.
I guess the question I was torturing myself with was, “Could I have done more, while still being prudent?” And, I’m sorry to say, the answer was a resounding “Yes!” I could have called to her from my window, instead of dropping the shade. I could have asked her her name, and showed compassion, reassured her that help was on the way, tried to soothe her — just as I would want some other mother to do for my children if, God forbid, they were ever in that kind of situation.
I’ve never been great at thinking on my feet, especially at 5am, and I’m not going to beat myself up over it. But I am going to ask God’s forgiveness for my sin of omission and beg Him to give me the grace to learn from it and do better if there’s a next time.