The Good Kind of Hit and Run (or Spiritual Lessons from NCIS)

OK, I admit that I watch (at least when I’m home and not otherwise occupied) NCIS. While I have no particular interest in military criminal investigations, I enjoy the camaraderie and interactions of the members of the NCIS team and I think some of the actors playing them are quite talented.

In this week’s episode, Abby, the more-than-slightly bizarre and brilliant forensic scientist, suffers a crisis. Usually upbeat, she questions whether she is “enough.” The case the team is currently handling brings back memories of her “first case,” her efforts as a child to reunite another child with her grandfather and a stuffed animal he had given her. Child Abby doesn’t succeed, although she commits and act of great kindness to the other child. The current case makes her feel that whatever she does isn’t enough to succeed in stopping bad things from happening.

The ending scene of the episode finds Abby sitting in the darkened NCIS office, where Gibbs (head of team, father figure – or at least wisdom figure – for Abby) finds her. When he asks her what is wrong, she tells him that she is “trying to figure out a way to be OK with not being enough.” “Enough, what?” Gibbs asks. “Enough good,” she answers. She can’t see any evidence that she does “enough” good.

Gibbs’ response to that is “Then you’re not counting hit-and-runs, the good kind.” You do something good now, he explains, and are not always around to see the difference it makes later. He then relays to her something she did the day they met, years before, that affected him deeply. What it is, doesn’t matter; that years later, something she did continues to make a difference to him does.

We all need to be reminded to count the “good kind” of hit-and-runs when we are thinking about our impact in the world. Once in a while, we get to see the fruits of an action. Years later, a student may call or write, talking about how something a teacher once said changed his life. You learn that a git that seemed minor to you meant everything to the person who received it.

But much of the time we don’t. And so we need to be reminded that we dont’ have to count up the successes to feel like we are enough. We just need to stay true to our mission.

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3 thoughts on “The Good Kind of Hit and Run (or Spiritual Lessons from NCIS)

  1. Some great points made… taking the idea a bit further spiritually. If we are focused on the “results” perhaps we’re focused on the wrong thing! We are called to obedience, not the creation of fruit (results). The “fruit-maker” is God Himself, we are but His Johnny Appleseeds. We are called to “plant” in obedience to the lead of the Holy Spirit. Affirmation, lasting and true affirmation comes from God, all else is fleeting at best. Not that the occasional “thank you” or “great job” isn’t warranted, appreciated and needed.

    I have often prayed, “Father allow me to see past your hand, to your face;” or “Father allow me to focus on the Giver, not the gift.” shalom

  2. Dr. Tierno–Certainly obedience to God is more important than “results”–but results are important for their instructive value. We care about the “results” not just to be successful, but as a kind of measure that we are really doing God’s work. So often we get it wrong, the thing God wants us to do, or we deceive ourselves, and only learn later of the enormity of our mistake. Joy for others, attributable to our actions, helps us see we are on the right track.

    Susan– Love that you watch NCIS–at least it helps me feel a little better about watching “Criminal Minds.” I went for years never watching TV, then I watched CM–a lot. I am sick of it now, but I did wonder at my attraction to that show.

    I don’t care for serial killers and the crime drama part is cheesy at best. What I do love about the show, though, is the relationships. I love the characters (I still do): and wanted what they have–to be an integral, indispensible, part of the team. Being “part of the team” on that show means being celebrated for your unique gifts; having unique gifts put to use for important work; having an interesting important job that you can obsess about; and having all these great, priceless friends who really, really love you.

    Perhaps my devotion to that show, and, indeed the almost universal popularity of shows with “teams,” says something about a certain longing common to many people these days–the longing to be part of a community where you are loved, cherished, and appreciated for the unique qualities that make you you. A place of joy, fun, laughter, goodness.

    Talk to you soon. Thanks for all you do. Colleen

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