There are always multiple versions of a true story and who you are telling it to decides which version you will tell, especially when you are a Christian leader because you are always mindful of your responsibility to do no harm. It is like with your children, when you have to talk about difficult things you give age appropriate information, what they can handle in a way they can handle it.
There are 2 versions of our latest story. The very generic version filled with teaching God’s principles and focusing on lessons learned and only small amounts of real detail that one is for those who are innocent and who are not equipped to handle the really ugly stuff or a way to simply answer the questions and satisfy the concern of others.
And then there is the story in it’s complete form with all the ugly details and this you share with only a very few of your inner circle who you could trust with your life, and we were in one of those moments sitting in the Red House Cafe in Pacific Grove talking with a young man and his wife who are vocational pastors and he is like a son to us.
As a result I was being honest…very honest. And then I felt it…my husbands knee gently tapping my leg…the signal that I may be going a bit too far…it is our signal that we use to help each other not have regrets in conversations.
And if you know me at all you know that he is the one usually doing the tapping:)
I simply looked at him and said “If people do not want to be vilified in a story than they should not act villainous “But I respect my husband so I toned it down a bit and focused on the God moments in the narrative and only took an occasional humorous jab because Ugly can be funny and I like to be funny.
And since that moment my writers mind has been playing with this idea about how each of us takes a part in other people’s stories. We live our lives like puppies feeding at their mother’s breast, laying all over each other, eating and vying for attention all at the same time. It is cute to look at but it can be messy to live in. Let’s just face it human beings interacting with each other is messy and being believers doesn’t make it any less messy…in fact sometimes it makes it worse.
Stories have hero’s and villains and the choices we make every day determines our role in someone’s story. I have a dear friend who manages people in her job and she always says to me ” I don’t have to be their best boss but I work really hard to not be their worst boss.” And because that is a conscious choice in her heart and mind I believe it guides her daily decisions. Our lives affect other people…our ambition…our selfishness…our desires…our goals…our honorable intentions… everything we do affects others.
Daily we choose to be Hero’s or Villains.
We can’t go around lifting cars to save a baby, or stop a train in it’s tracks and while I wish I could always put away the bad guy that isn’t what we are called to do, it’s much more subtle and much more eternal. In the story books Hero’s always triumph over evil, they always find a way of escape and they always catch the villain.
Villains always want WORLD domination and they usually start out as good guys who wanted to do right but they were misunderstood, rejected or victimized and to make sure that never happens again they empower themselves in every way possible to dominate so they will not be dominated.
Everyday Heroism is much more necessary and a lot less red cape or bat ears…it is quite simply a call to invite someone to the mall to shop, buy them lunch and give the gift of time. It is a note that says I was praying for you this morning and I felt the Lord say “He will redeem the time.” It is the quick phone call just to check in and say hello. It is the voice of a friend who says I will take your dog even though she has a house full of them. It is when someone tells you are handling things well and they are proud of you. It is the teary voice that says you will tell me if you need something right? It is the sister who listens to you over and over again and then makes you laugh. That is the active everyday heroism that makes us more like Christ.
BUT it is also heroic to check your motives…to acknowledge your weakness…to yield to the Holy Spirit when he convicts your heart of selfish ambition…to listen to that still small voice of direction and correction.
True Heroism starts in the small places of your heart where obedience matters more than The big picture or personal ambition.
And in kind everyday villains do not breath fire nor can they freeze your brain and no one starts out being a villain.
Villains usually start from one of two foundations to Protect oneself or to Promote oneself. It starts out small and subtle in the heart and mind first. Rationalization for a choice…participating in back room phone calls that make you look cool or hip…wrapping selfish ambition in kingdom business…Betrayal…white lies and colored truth..anything that promotes the need for our flesh to be preserved or promoted.
True villainy starts when we no longer respond in tears of repentance to the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit who comes to convict and heal our broken places. It is in the broken places where self preservation most often begins.
The parts we play in each others stories is even more muddied by the fact that none of us is strictly hero or villain. We are like David quite capable of both. The gentle psalmist, giant killing, king worshiper is also the murderous adulterer. “A man after God’s own heart” also took another man’s wife and killed him to hide it.
So then how is the decision made? Hero or villain? In choices of obedience or disobedience…to submit to His leadership or rely on our own wisdom, to run past the stop signs or yield to them…to think before we act or not…to ponder how a choice will affect the livelihood, family life or future of another human being or to ignore those ramifications.
Living life together is messy and when you are capable of Heroism or Villainy it complicates the matter all the more but rest assured the scripture is clear we will give an account for our choices to the one who is the only True Hero.
He laid his life down so we could choose to live and love like He does and each time we choose heroic acts He rejoices and when we choose the other kind He aches to forgive, to heal and to restore us…that is if we will confess our need of it.
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.