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Servanthood at its best

By Jessica Connor

I sat there on the wet summer grass, cradling the 10-year-old girl on my lap as she roared in pain.

“My arm! It hurts! Oh, it hurts!” she hollered, panting and shaking, before shivering her way into the fetal position as I tried my hardest to hold her right arm straight. All around me, concerned neighbors crouched, our eyes locking.

Her name is Olivia, she had just barreled her bike into a wooden fence at high speed with no helmet, and we were all doing our best to comfort her while waiting for paramedics to arrive.

The girl was scared, in agony, and she had the worst broken arm I’d ever seen, twisted grotesquely. Her head was battered, too, and her knee had a gruesome gash. I was the first to get to her, and all I could do was hold her, pet her, stabilize her and reassure her she was going to be okay as I fumbled my cell phone out of my pocket.

We’d all seen it happen that July afternoon, seen the girl tear down the street as fast as her little legs could pump, and before we could even form the words, “Slow down!” or “Put a helmet on!” or “Careful!” we watched her lose control of her bike, fly down a grassy hill, go airborne and smash directly into a fence.

She came up screaming and bloody.

Anyone who’s ever helped someone in an emergency situation can tell you it’s the ultimate form of intimacy – whether you’re doing CPR on a stranger or simply cradling a shivering young kid in your lap. All thoughts of yourself fly out the window. All you can think about is them: helping them, giving to them, doing for them, serving them. Time stands still. The air thickens, the light transforms. Trivialities pass away.

Whether it’s a bike wreck or a heart attack, it all comes down to life’s basics: Will she live? How bad is it? What can we do to ease her pain?

How quickly we forget the pettiness of daily existence in the face of the big picture.

And it becomes beautiful: the way neighbors and strangers come together in tandem to help someone instead of looking inward, thinking about our own cushy little worlds, giving half our hearts instead of our whole hearts.

It’s true servanthood at its best.

And really, isn’t that what this denomination is all about? Letting go of our own lives, our own concerns, to help another. Giving. Serving.  Being His hands and feet. Doing as He would have done.

As we go to press on the Advocate, I still don’t know how Olivia is doing. I do know my church is lifting her in prayer, as is my neighborhood.

But while I pray for Olivia, I also pray another prayer: that as life returns to normal in my neighborhood, we don’t lose sight of the reminder we all got that afternoon. Life is fleeting, but we all have each other. And in loving our neighbors without boundaries, we are living His command.

 

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