This is a special season for many of us. Truth is, what follows is about as 'preachy' as I get on these pages. Though I've posted this piece before it seems to say what I want to say. Hopefully it speaks to everyone, regardless of their spiritual leanings. And as a extra holiday treat it comes with desert.
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---for me that meant 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 have had the opportunity to visit with more than one hundred twenty individuals and couples from our congregation, getting to know them while creating short profiles of their lives and battles. Along the way we were constantly amazed at how many heros we met in the course of those visits. For the last thirteen or fourteen years we’ve also visited shut-ins, and in the process discovered a whole different crop of heros.
Along the way we've learned some important lessons. First of all, heros don’t always win. They 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. In 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 any church at all.) In any case, I know for a fact that you’ll find them in my congregation every Sunday morning.
Sometimes we’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. And if you pay attention, you can too.
"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.
Finally, just in case your holiday is starting off a little rocky, this update from Roberta Morin may explain the problem.