My friend Shirley’s post read “EVERYONE YOU MEET IS FIGHTING A BATTLE YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT. BE KIND. ALWAYS.”
I replied---”Shirley, your post reminded me of this little essay I wrote for a class assignment a few months ago---about those battles we all fight, and what I believe.”
Caring, unselfish, willing to face adversity and do what must be done. Those are some of the things that define a hero. I happen to believe in heros. More to the point, I believe in “heros” and “sheros.”
Like most folks I remember the heros of my childhood---The Lone Ranger, Red Ryder, Jack Armstrong. They were the good guys, and they always won. Later there would be Mickey, Willie, and Johnny U---who seemed bigger than life, and although they didn’t always win, they won more than anyone else.
Fast forward to the present. Perhaps it’s not surprising that by now much of what I know about real-life heros has been learned in the context of my church family. I’ve learned that God’s blessings often arrive in the form of "hes" and "shes.". Over the years Roma and I had the opportunity to visit with more than one hundred individuals and couples from our congregation, getting to know them and creating short profiles of their lives and battles. We were constantly amazed at how many heros we met in the course of those visits. For the last twelve year we’ve visited shut-ins, and in the process discovered a whole different crop of heros.
Along the way I’ve learned that heros don’t always win. They can become heros by the way they try. In fact, they’re often at their best when it seems that life has turned against them and the bad guys are winning. At times like that those heros are on the job, doing their good work and giving their best---encouraging and comforting, healing and praying. I’m pretty sure you’ll find them in every church on any given Sunday. (Though of course they don’t have to be in church.) In any case, I know for a fact that you’ll find them in my congregation every Sunday morning.
Sometimes you’ll know who they are. Their efforts will be obvious. But at the same time there will be dozens of others dealing with their own struggles---fighting battles we will never know about. For those undercover, out-of-sight heros the focus may not be on winning. Often it’s about coping---dealing with their personal adversity, relying on their own resources and the power of prayer to make it through hard times. I see those heros in every pew, every Sunday, seeking the strength and renewal to carry them through another week.
It’s comforting to know that when I’m in need of inspiration I can find examples all around me. "Caring, unselfish, willing to face adversity and do what must be done"---those are the characteristics of the heros I believe in, including the pair of special heros who keep me going. Each of us will have our own special list, but our reliance on heros will be the same. Everyone needs “heros,” and “sheros” to help them cope and carry on. That’s why I believe in heros.