I’d like to introduce you to one of My heroes – She’s not someone famous – although I have mentioned her before here . She’s a fantastic Mother (you just need to look at her grown up children and their relationship with both their parents) but that’s not why she’s my hero. She’s a great wife (married to an amazing man – He gave away one of his kidney’s for goodness sake, the guy deserves a Medal!) but that’s not why she’s one of my heroes. She’s wise, funny, loyal, determined and just “gets” me – but none of those things are why she’s one of my heroes. All those things are fantastic, and part of the reason I love her very much. But the reason she is my hero is that she is an amazing disciple of Jesus. She looks at the master, watches him daily and simply does what he does. She walks so closely behind him that she is caked in the dust of his shoes. And that’s the kind of disciple I want to be.
And so I asked her to share some thoughts on a story, to share a little bit of the wisdom that I have had the privilege to share over the last 20 or so years. Hope you enjoy
It just so happened that I watched the “The Butler” the day after Nelson Mandela had died – relevant & poignant to say the least
The Butler follows the story of Cecil Gaines who served 8 presidents during his tenure in the White House throughout a turbulent time in America’s history.
We left the theatre in sombre mood pondering all that man can do to one another and wondering just how advanced we actually are in regards to human tolerance and grace.
As I watched the movies’ themes unfold and witnessed Cecil and his family in their struggle for equality, for recognition and acceptance and justice for all culminate in the election of a black President, I realised just how small a step had been made towards redressing the balance. I am no fool to think equality and acceptance have been arrived at universally or that the balance has been fully restored, by any stretch of the imagination, but I do live in hope that each step, however small, is one step closer to the grace filled journey Jesus came to offer.
The movie highlighted not only a huge social issue, but a family’s struggle as father and son held polar opposite positions and could never really see eye to eye on anything, nor maintain a deep connection, and their lives were the poorer for it. Cecil couldn’t condone his son’s actions or point of view and his son very obviously could not accept his father’s compliant acceptance of their lot.
Cecil lived life as a victim of his circumstances, never questioning or challenging the status quo above a whisper; being present but invisible almost as an internal defence mechanism. Meanwhile his son Louis refused to endure the path enforced upon him by the culture of the day and set about trying to change society and challenge the status quo no matter the cost. It was like watching a microcosm of contention encapsulated within the wider conflict and strife of the era.
A most memorable scene for me was when Cecil came to the realisation of just how much his victim mentality had cost him; namely a deep and meaningful relationship with his son. It was as if a switch had been flicked on where he fully comprehended just what he had lost. With this illumination came a restored relationship to his son; where he could finally be proud and accepting of who he was and what he was fighting for. This epiphany led Cecil to seek out his son, seek reconciliation and stand alongside him in his quest for equality; no longer the victim silently blending into the wallpaper, but willing to be present, to be in the room!
I know we all have defence mechanisms that we employ to protect ourselves and they have their uses when we are vulnerable or at risk. However I have found that like Cecil, we miss out on so much of life when we refuse to engage, blend into the wallpaper or hide behind protective walls, as they can isolate us or cut us off from the people who would care about us.
I recognise it’s a lifelong journey learning how to be present and in the room; learning to drop defences, allowing people to see our vulnerability, offering grace and acceptance and loving fully and unconditionally.
Yet it’s the least trodden path known to man and I can only walk it in the strength and knowledge that my friend Jesus Christ has my back and is all the protection I need. Having been a victim of abuse many years ago, I understand first-hand the victim mentality and self-protection methods but now that I have seen the restorative power Jesus offers through forgiveness, I am more fully alive and in the room than I ever was.
It is my hope that we all might recognise our need for restoration, reconciliation and forgiveness and seek to walk the grace filled life offered in Jesus.
I’ll say Amen to that My friend! Thanks for sharing.