The other day we were on the radio talking about the amazing food/dry-goods drive the Howell Community Theater just kicked off for The Torch. The theme of the drive is “be a hunger hero”, and Sarah and I were introduced as, “local heroes”, which fit with the theme, but rattled me a little. You see, I know myself very well. And I know I am not a hero.
I am just - me.
Living up to hero status is daunting and intimidating to say the least. I wouldn’t even know how to begin to do such a thing. Google defines a hero as: "1. a person, typically a man (ahem), who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. 2. another term for submarine sandwich." I just might have more qualities akin to a submarine sandwich, than to that first definition.
Heroes are always so strong. But I am not always so strong. My sister is very ill right now, and that makes me feel sad and weak and helpless. The only thing I can do to help her is to pray. And I totally believe that is a very powerful weapon, however, it doesn’t keep me from breaking down and crying at moments when I least expect it. It doesn’t stop me from wishing there was something physically I could do to help her get better. It doesn’t make me not wake up at 3:00 in the morning with a lump in my throat and an ache in my heart. By myself, I am not strong. And that expectation is so hard to live up to. If people think I am some kind of hero, do I lose permission to cry? Do I forfeit the right to acknowledge there are some things in life for which I have no answers, and that leave me in a puddle on the floor? It feels like that could be the case, but I am not that strong.
Heroes are always so smart. They always know what to say, and they always know what to do. And I, quite frankly, don’t. Sometimes people share life stories or events with me that take my breath away and leave me speechless. I don’t always have the words to comfort, and I don’t always have the solutions they seek. Occasionally, we get messages for the Torch and I really have no idea what to do about them. We get asked to do things we cannot possibly do, things that are so far outside the realm of having a food truck and taking it to people to cook free hot meals, that I don’t even know how to reply. I can’t leap tall buildings in a single bound, and I am not faster than a speeding bullet, and I don’t have all the answers all the time.
Heroes don’t get scared. But I do get scared. I get scared when I have to break bad news to someone, and I get scared when I am about to face a confrontation. I get scared of driving in the snow, and in the dark on unfamiliar roads. I get scared at the thought of losing the people I love. I don’t have a superhuman strength to overcome those scary times, although I do have prayer, and that gets me through them. I don’t face life fearlessly; it’s an everyday battle to overcome the things that frighten me through and through. I have to make a commitment every single day to praying and reading my Bible, and preparing myself to face whatever adversaries will come.
So you see, I am not a hero. I am just me. But that is actually one of the most beautiful aspects of being part of The Torch. Sarah and I are just a couple of ladies who took a little germ of an idea and with a whole lot of faith, ran with it. I’m not saying it has been easy, and I am not saying we haven’t had to overcome significant obstacles. We have. We have had conflicts, and frustrations, and scary moments galore. Our faith has been tried and stretched and challenged, and it has grown as we climbed over, pushed through, and dodged around the things that threatened to stop us. And we are still here, and The Torch is growing, and opportunities keep presenting, and we will continue moving forward - despite our fears and uncertainties and moments when we completely, totally, don’t know what to do.
I'm telling you - if we can do that, anybody can! I think too often we, as human beings, limit ourselves because we compare ourselves to those around us, and we are found wanting. If somebody is looking at me and thinking, “Wow! She’s a hero! I could never do that!”, then he or she can comfortably settle into his or her sheltered life and never step out in faith to do something to change the world. I don’t want my life to be the excuse people use not to help those around them. I want everyone to see - what I truly believe - if I can do it, so can you! So, what is it you can do? How can you make a difference in your home? Your life? Your community? Your world? I give you permission not to be a hero - you are free to be human and make mistakes and have fears and doubts. I won’t look for you to display supernatural powers.
So you see? I am not a hero. I am just a person who cares deeply about those around me, and who believes I have a responsibility to reach out and show them I care. And it's okay that I am not a hero. I can live with that.