Thursday, September 9, 2010


I sat there with my arm raised over my head, waving frantically. My face was beet-red and I could feel my eyes start to well with tears. I looked down at my desk again…it wasn’t possible! How could I have gotten an A- on my paper? Mrs. Walters was soon standing beside my desk, leaning down.

“What is it, Mark?” she asked?

“It’s my g-g-g-rade, Mrs. Walters!” I stammered. “It’s not g-g-good enough. Can I have a do-over?”

I thought back to my early school years the other day as I was driving to work. The radio program I was listening to had posed a question to its radio audience. “If you could have a ‘do-over’ in life, what would it be?” The twenty-five minute commute to work on the back roads gave me plenty of time to listen to the various listeners who called in. I was especially struck by the response of one particular listener. In essence, he said that initially there were a lot things he would want to do over…he had made a number of bad choices in his life. But as he thought about it, he decided that every choice (good or bad) that he had made had molded him into the person he was today.

That response has rolled around in my head for the past ten days. I’ve been trying to decide how much I agree with him. For my own part, I’ve made far too many bad choices in my lifetime. Some of them have been extremely costly…leading to prison time, the loss of a marriage and family as well as a career. Others haven’t come at the same cost, but have nonetheless negatively impacted others’ lives. But the other side of the coin, if I follow the listener’s line of thought has led me to an amazing relationship with Christ and a much deeper understanding of who I am. And the ability to accept those truths. So, if I had a chance, would I want a “do-over”?

Mrs. Walters got down on knee level and looked me in the eyes.

“Mark, your work is very good. An A- is still a good grade”, she said.

“B-b-but I knew the right answer”, I cried. “I just accidently turned the number backward. Please, Mrs. Walters…can I have a do over?”

I don’t think she gave me that “do-over” 44 years ago when I sat in the upstairs fourth grade classroom in the Old Farmin Elementary school. And because she didn’t, it probably made me a better student…paying closer attention to details and checking my work before I turned it in. And as I reflect on the other areas of my life, most of them wouldn’t warrant a “do-over” either. The lessons that I’ve learned from the bad decisions have taught me valuable life lessons. But if I had a chance to get one “do-over” in my life, I would take it. The question is…which one?

Photo from Bing Images


Deb Shucka said...

I love this story. The ending has me curious - if just one, what would it be, and of course how would you know what the ripples of that one do-over might be? And now I'm wondering what my one do-over might be. :-)

I could see you in your fourth grade desk, so upset at an A-. I'd sure like to read the story that explained how a nine-year-old boy would care so much about a slightly less than perfect grade. (Yup, it's a hint.)

Suzy said...

Do overs...hmm.

Deb's right (she usually is). One do over brings about its own effects.

I am trying hard to learn the lesson, "you're where you're supposed to be."

Great writing Mark.

All the best,