One day in a schoolyard I watched a group of children playing. They’d chosen sides and after much debate, a small girl with bruised knees and scuffed shoes was directed by the teacher to join the team of a tall, muscular boy who continued to protest the decision. He scowled as the small girl ran over and stood by the fence in an attempt to avoid his wrath. The other team took their places “in the field,” and the game began. A big, red ball, slightly under-inflated was rolled up to the first kicker. It scooted between two boys and the runner fled to first base. In turn, each kicker was able to get on base and thereby send the preceding kicker home. Then the small girl came to the plate with the bases loaded. She thrust her foot out too early; missing the ball by a mile. Off balance, she fell into the dirt. The ball rolled past her and landed at foot of the chain-link fence behind her. All the other children stayed in place; still like statues with their mouths agape. The small girl stood up. Brushing the dirt from her knees, her soft voice broke the silence. She said two words: “Do Over.”
Years passed, and the small girl became a woman of 23. On a humid day in July, she excitedly directed the placement of her belongings on a small U-Haul truck. After years of living in her parent’s home, she was finally ready for her own. She was homesick at first, but soon she settled into her first apartment. After a while, she met a man. She’d cook dinner for them, and after, they’d sit and talk. During the season, they’d watch basketball together. She cherished the time they spent together, although her girlfriends criticized him and argued he took advantage of her good nature. Ultimately, her friends were proven right. When she got pregnant, the man left. Nine months later, she brought her daughter home to the apartment. They struggled from month-to-month, and after 9 years, the struggle ended. The majority of their belongings were packed on a truck and sent to storage. Their suitcases and a few boxes were put in her car and they headed out of state to stay with her sister. As the miles pushed them farther from their beloved home, tears streamed down her face. The freedom the apartment had delivered was gone. Over the hum of the engine, a small voice uttered two words: “Do Over.”
Six months later, she hummed as she unpacked boxes in their new apartment. She prayed for a new start; for redemption. “Dear Lord,” she prayed. “Please grant us peace and serenity. I beg you for the chance to blossom and flourish undisturbed. Please, I beg, for once, that our lives not constantly be in crisis mode.” It seemed her prayers were answered, and their lives proceeded without incident for about six years. On an unseasonably warm day in October, her name drifted through the open window. By the time she reached the window, the voices had disappeared. A man’s voice summoned her to the conference room. Then and there, life went into crisis mode. When her savings, 401K and unemployment ran out, their belongings returned to storage. The small voice quietly uttered the words she’d heard many times before, “Do Over.”
Humiliated and defeated, she returned to her parents. They greeted her with open arms. On her childhood bed she found a note in her mother’s loopy handwriting. It said:
“I watched you many, many years ago in the schoolyard stumble, fall and get up. You didn’t cry. You didn’t beg. You simply asked for another chance. Scripture tells us that the righteous man may fall seven times, but he will get up again. With each stumble, the process of getting up is asking for a Do Over. I know you are hurting, but do not lose heart. When we stumble, we turn around to see what tripped us up. Look behind only long enough to determine the correct way forward. Remember as we walked home from school that day, I taught you the three R’s – Recognize, Revitalize and Reinvent. God himself in his infinite wisdom designed the sun to rise for us each day as a Do Over.”
She wiped her tears and got up. This time stronger. This time smarter. This time she had a plan for her journey.