The downside to rehearsing hero stories


Connecting the themes of Monday (MLK) and Tuesday (seeing your future), I’ve been thinking about how we romanticize our heroes and their lives, how we rehearse certain parts of our heroes’ lives and neglect the parts that are more like our own experiences. I’m not talking about ignoring their flaws but rather about the ways we ignore how difficult their lives were and the fears they must have experienced. We see the success (e.g., significant civil rights progress), remember how brave a particular hero was (MLK willing to be jailed despite opportunities to be bailed out), but forget the day-to-day fears they faced. What might become of me? Am I doing the right thing?

Did MLK know what was going to happen to him. One of his last sermons certainly hinted that he might not “get there” with the audience. And why not, he’d been stabbed, beaten, bombed, threatened daily for years. But I suspect there were days and nights of fear, worry, and second-guessing. There had to be days of wanting to go someplace to be safe and not ever bothered again. His challenge was knowing that since he felt God’s call to stay and fight was that God would be good enough and give enough “manna” for the next day.

I think we often rehearse the strength of biblical characters as well and at times neglect their fears. We see in much of David’s poetry that would suggest he spent many a dark night fearing that he would not be protected by God. It is easy to think about David’s courage with Goliath, his righteous response to Saul’s attempts to kill him, his joy in dancing before the Lord, but sometimes forget that he, like us, struggled to know just what God was up to in his life.

Thinking about their struggles not only increases my compassion but encourages me to keep waiting on the Lord in hope and faith for whatever he chooses to bring my way.

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Filed under Anxiety, Christianity: Leaders and Leadership, Civil Rights

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