Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Heroes Seeking Victory

Can you be an overcomer without enduring adversity?
Can you be a victor without fighting a battle?
Can you achieve without attempting success and risking failure?

We revel in watching and immersing ourselves in books, movies, and TV shows telling us make-believe or real stories of heroes.  We love the stories of people overcoming the greatest odds, fighting intense battles, giving their all to accomplish their goals or to surmount seemingly impossible odds.  We admire these passionate heroes and find ourselves incredibly inspired by their perseverance to be overcomers and gain a victory which leads to a great reward.  Such stories spark something within us, and at least for that moment, we feel inspired and empowered to achieve something great in our own lives.  It encourages us to believe that we too can be heroes!  And yet, when we are presented with the opportunity to turn adversity into victory, we find ourselves cowering and desiring to run away or to make the opportunity disappear altogether.  

Achieving a meaningful victory comes with great sacrifice.  It costs us a great deal.  And it takes time.  Life is not a sprint, it is a marathon.  Unlike a book, movie, or TV show our lives were not meant to be lived, and lived fully, in the span of a handful of hours.  Because of the concise manner of media, we acquire the terrible misconception that being victorious happens fairly quickly.  Real life is nothing like that.  Real life adversity which leads to victory and success takes hours, days, months, and often, many years.  The longer it takes, the less inspired we feel and the more inclined we are to want to give up.  We yearn for the epic ending without being willing to pour out the "blood, sweat, and tears" it takes to arrive there.  

Life IS hard!  There is no denying that.  We ALL face great challenges.  Our battles come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and can be rambunctious and noisy or very quiet and still.  The "enemies" we face can be known, unknown, and many times the enemy is our own self.  No matter the type of battle we face we will have to fight and endure in order to bring about the epic victory we long for. 

I've faced a number of challenges in my life in which I grew tired of the battle and was repeatedly tempted to give up, accept defeat, and walk away.  Yet, deep inside, there is a hero within me.  And that hero really does want to arrive at a victory.  There is a hero within me that wants to passionately raise her hands in the air, proclaim loudly with joy "YES! I OVERCAME!", and revel in whatever joyful reward accompanies that victory.  So when I want to cry, complain, whine, nurse my wounds, or completely run away for good and bury that hero once and for all, I am reminded to again look toward and reach my hand out for my greatest source of strength: GOD.  

Why do I choose God as my greatest source of strength?  Because when I have no strength left of my own human will, when there is no human being who can carry me through my trials or bring me comfort in the most painful moments, and when I am all alone emotionally or physically, GOD will still be there to provide me with strength, encouragement, and comfort.  God transcends space, time, and circumstances like no one and nothing else can.  That's why I choose God.

I will end this post in a way I had no intention of doing when I started to write it this morning.  Just before I was going to post this, I read some news on the internet.  So I end this with a very small snippet of someone else's story which has brought me to tears today.  It is the story of Kayla Mueller who had been captive under ISIS hands since 2013 and has now been confirmed dead.  No matter what suffering or battle she faced, Kayla chose God.  I read some of the words Kayla wrote during her life, and I am deeply touched by them.  I'll share a few of them here:

Before her captivity, Kayla said:

"I find God in the suffering eyes reflected in mine. If this is how you are revealed to me, this is how I will forever seek you"

"I will always seek God. Some people find God in church. Some people find God in nature. Some people find God in love; I find God in suffering. I've known for some time what my life's work is, using my hands as tools to relieve suffering"

During her captivity, Kayla said:

"If you could say I have 'suffered' at all throughout this whole experience it is only in knowing how much suffering I have put you all through; I will never ask you to forgive me as I do not deserve forgiveness. I remember mom always telling me that all in all in the end the only one you really have is God. I have come to a place in experience where, in every sense of the word, I have surrendered myself to our creator b/c literally there was no else ... + by God + by your prayers I have felt tenderly cradled in freefall. I have been shown in darkness, light + have learned that even in prison, one can be free. I am grateful. I  have come to see that there is good in every situation, sometimes we just have to look for it. I pray each day that if nothing else, you have felt a certain closeness + surrender to God as well + have formed a bond of love + support amongst one another"

"None of us could have known it would be this long but I know I am also fighting from my side in the ways I am able + I have a lot of fight left inside of me. I am not breaking down + I will not give in no matter how long it takes. I wrote a song some months ago that says, 'The part of me that pains the most also gets me out of bed, w/out your hope there would be nothing left ...' aka- The thought of your pain is the source of my own, simultaneously the hope of our reunion is the source of my strength. Please be patient, give your pain to God. I know you would want me to remain strong. That is exactly what I am doing. Do not fear for me, continue to pray as will I + by God's will we will be together soon"

For one recent news story about what happened to Kayla Mueller, click on this link:

For the transcript of her last letter to her family, click on this link:

Even though Kayla's life on this earth has come to an end, she was victorious!  Her feelings, thoughts, words, and actions speak of victory.  Kayla was a hero.  She was an overcomer.

May God provide super-exceeding and abounding comfort to all those who loved Kayla.  My heart hurts for their sorrow.  

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