Everyone owns an interior cache of heroism, which rises to the surface in time of need. We can choose to act upon the gallant impulse, or talk ourselves out of it. That’s the dilemma with use-of-valor evaluation – the call to action does not ride alone. It comes accompanied by fear, suspicion, and the instinct of self-preservation. Not that those are bad traveling companions. In most cases, it is prudent and essential to think twice before diving in, but sometimes, you just gotta trust your gut.
Some of us are called to a continuous, high level of heroism. These are the people you will find most often in jobs of civil service, such as police officers and fire fighters, or members of our armed forces. For such as these, every day is an opportunity to “lay their lives down for a friend.”
However, that’s not to say that smaller deeds of valor have no significance – quite the opposite, actually. Tiny deeds, done with love, are magnified by God’s grace into life-changing acts of intervention. I have, in my lifetime, executed many acts of pint-sized prowess. I know that God sees into the heart, and is filled with joy by any act of courageous self-sacrifice, be it big or small, and just as any loving father, he rewards such actions. As a means of inspiring you in your day-to-day heroic efforts, I share with you a few stories of my meager (and entertaining!) super-hero exploits.
I grew up in a rough neck of the woods. At first glance, it appears to be the quintessential, small-town neighborhood – old houses with big yards and plentiful gardens, mixed in among farms with livestock in the pasture. I was raised on local produce, freshly harvested honey, and street fights.
Yeah, you heard that right … street fights. And it wasn’t gang warfare, it was us girls. We just could not get along. We’d pair up in groups of two, and inevitably end up in a skirmish. This way of interacting wasn’t limited to my local turf. This happened all around our little town. Anywhere there was a group of young lassies, you could almost count on a girl-fight. Luckily, people hardly ever picked fights with me, but I would occasionally step in to intervene, especially if others joined in to gang up on someone. The battle I remember most vividly actually did involve our neighborhood group of girls.
One winter, while going in search of my most dependable friend, I discovered her under siege from a troublesome duo. She was holed up in a large shed, which housed a pony that she was caring for. The enemy had taken up position outside the pasture fence and was attacking with a large stash of icy snowballs. I swung into immediate action. From the opposite side of the villainous attack, I ran through the gate and into the shed. I spied a 5-gallon bucket and grabbed it. Using it as a shield, I dashed out to the small watering pond and managed to break enough ice to fill the bucket halfway with water. Then I worked my way over to the assailants’ position, dodging ice-balls as I stumbled along under the weight of the bucket.
I will never figure out why those girls just stood there while I walked right up to them, in plain view, with an arsenal of ice-cold water in my possession, but that’s what they did. I strategized and aimed, and tossed the water so that it saturated both of them, and they immediately broke rank and skedaddled. I wondered if we’d ever see them again, and how much trouble I was in. Luckily for me, they both felt too guilty to tell on me.
As the years passed, our whole gang of hoodlums eventually outgrew our warring stage of adolescence, and ended up being friends who laughed together about our immature antics. However, I did gain a reputation, after that icy battle, as a crafty warrior who should not be messed with, so our neighborhood really was a lot more peaceful after my childish act of bravery!
Some other escapades (from later in my life) that I can recall are:
1) Chasing a young guy through the streets and alleys of downtown, after I witnessed him stealing an old lady’s purse. I followed him relentlessly and kept him in sight until he decided to drop the purse, which I was able to retrieve. I found some ID in the purse and returned it to its rightful owner.
2) Helping an older man struggling to get the door open to his downtown living quarters. I offered to hold his unwieldy bag of groceries while he opened the door. I peered in and saw a long flight of stairs heading up … no lobby, no elevator, just a steep, poorly lit stairwell. I proceeded to carry his groceries inside. Up we went, two flights, until we came to his tiny room, which was packed to the gills with all of his earthly possessions. He felt so blessed by my kind assistance that he gave me a quarter, which I humbly accepted. I stored it away with the memories of this sweet old man, and the hope that I somehow made a difference in his life.
3) Planning and executing many service/mission trips for teenagers and young adults in our homeschool community. We have volunteered in Appalachia; in Tijuana, Mexico; and at agencies in our local city, and God has allowed me to help fill many young hearts with a love for service and humble self-sacrifice.
As you can see, being a “hero” doesn’t require great strength, or even a cape! It only calls for stepping beyond your comfort zone, to recognize dignity while practicing compassion and love, in order to affect positive change in someone’s life.
As we begin this season of Lent, I challenge you to pursue almsgiving (by way of offering charity and promoting justice) with heroic virtue. Find yourself a flattering mask and transform into an ordinary hero, for someone who needs a little help. Your heart will overflow with the joy of serving, and … you might just earn a quarter!
Copyright 2019 Charlene Rack