“If I could that over again I sure wouldn’t!”
“Give me another chance. I promise I won’t mess up this time.”
“How could this have happened? Can I please have a do over?”
Some days, I feel like I am living in a land of shadows. They are the shadows of the way things could have been, the way things should have been, the “if onlys”, the “what ifs”.
I should have known better! It was not supposed to be like this!
The shadows fall fast. They fall completely.
It can feel suffocating, dwelling in the land of shadows.
I feel the shadows the most when I look at my children. Do they remember what I did? How long I starved, and binged and purged? How long I toiled under the weight of shame, every breath a struggle to survive? How do they feel today about the shadows?
They are not just my shadows, they are their shadows, too.
In those moments, those shadow moments, do they wish they could have a do over as much as I do?
Sometimes, in those shadow moments, I find myself whispering a prayer, “Please Lord, I know you can do anything. I need a do over.”
Do overs are a chance to right wrongs, to make the shadows go away through our own abilities. They are a reconciliation of failure, of the need to win and be seen as a winner, with reality.
If you have children, there is a strong possibility you are familiar with do overs. Often, do overs are accompanied by upended Monopoly boards, scattered game pieces, and episodes of sibling violence.
Whether the need for a “do over” involves the game of Life (if only I would have gone to college and became a doctor!), a missed shot in the championship game, a first date where jangling nerves overtake charming repartee, a botched entrance exam to the prestigious dream school, a case of laryngitis on the day of the big audition, a moment of unbridled anger at the gratingly slow cashier; a life of missed chances, of fear, of shame and regret; a life spent contending with an eating disorder: the root of the need is the same. Something has gone wrong.
It needs to be put right.
But, what if what has gone wrong cannot be put right by any means we possess? What if we are never afforded the opportunity to keep trying? What if the shadow of “if only?” is too dark, too deep, for us to ever find our way out by our own devices?
When I returned home from inpatient treatment, how could I bear to see disappointment and shattered dreams reflected in the eyes of my four little girls?
It was my doing. I was the one to blame.
Please, Lord, I need a do over.
Had I really spent my life ashamed? Of what I weighed? Of why I weighed that much? Throwing happiness away with both hands for the whisper of a fraudulent promise, “When you are thin, you will finally be happy.”
I know you can do anything. Please, Lord, I need a do over. Today.
In John 11 Jesus arrived at Martha’s house three days after her brother Lazarus died. “Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if You had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.”
Martha's heart cried, "You have opened the eyes of the blind. Shadows are nothing to you. I know you are able to do anything."
Something had gone terribly wrong. Jesus could have prevented it. Jesus should have been there. All of the pain, all of the death, all of the mourning, all of the sorrow, could have been avoided.
“Yet even now, I know that whatever You ask from God, God will give to you,” Martha said.
"Lord, please, I need a do over."
“‘Your brother will rise again,’ Jesus told her.
Martha said, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’”
"Yes, according to the Jewish teaching I have received my whole life, I believe he will rise again at the firstfruits resurrection of the dead. Someday. But, please, Lord, I need a do over today."
Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who believes in Me will never die—ever. Do you believe this?’”
"Do I believe you, Lord?"
What Martha needed was a resurrection.
A Do over to end all do overs.
She needed to behold the Man of Many Sorrows as He wept at the tomb of his friend, her brother, Lazarus. The tears, the wrenching grief echoed through the ages of history. They were the incarnation. Jesus identified Himself with suffering, with the things that break our hearts, with the frailty of being flesh and bone...the injustice, the abuse, the failure...all the things that make us cry out for a do over.
With Jesus’s words, “Lazarus, come out!” ringing in Martha’s ears she experienced a foretaste of what was to come: the greatest reconciliation of failure the world has ever known to victory. The reconciliation of death to everlasting life.
The cross. It is finished. The Do Over to end all do overs.
What are shadows when the tomb is empty? No shadow stands a chance in the face of such light. Darkness has been swept away. What do failure and winning matter when death has been swallowed up in victory?
Today, we see through a glass darkly. We may weep because we lost the game, missed the shot, never got a second date, botched the entrance exam, didn’t get the role, regret our anger, our missed chances, our shameful behavior, the twenty years of our lives spent contending with an eating disorder; we shall see Him face to face.
And no amount of bravado will mask the truth that we would have always missed the mark. We were incapable of putting wrongs to right.
Jesus, the friend of Lazarus, is the great reconciliation, the resurrection, and the life.
He fills our land of shadows with His light.
The only Do Over we ever really needed has already been done.
How about you? Has there ever been a time you wanted to have a do over?