I have always planted myself in whatever community I reside in and surrounded myself with the women that make up that community. I never did it intentionally or with forethought, I just sought out relationships with the women nearby. And I am an introvert. The combination of the two means that I ended up with some pretty amazing women in my life, because, you know, small talk is completely over-rated.
On the day of my 38th birthday, I was new to a community, my daughter was in kindergarten and I ended up at the park with my kids and a woman whose daughter was in kindergarten with Emma. I remember in vivid detail sitting on the wall with her between the sandbox and grass while the kids played and we shared our lives. It was a conversation that connected she and I because it was not just surface chit chat. She asked questions, real questions. My heart was drawn to her. And she became one of my heroes.
Hero: A person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.
I have a number of women in my life that I consider heroes. They probably don’t know it, but at some point in our relationship, they did or said something that was outside of my behavior or abilities. Whatever they did made me curious, caused me to watch them more closely, inspired me or demonstrated something I wanted to adopt in my own life. Because I am an observer of human behavior, my heroes are women that possess qualities or behaviors that feed my soul and increase my whole.
The woman from the playground is my hero because she possesses the uncanny ability to steer any conversation back to a place that is positive and involves all at the table. It’s a quality that I do not have. If a conversation goes a little south, seems to be alienating some of those involved, or starts to feel like gossip, this hero can throw out a statement or question that turns the whole lot of us toward a new, constructive and much more engaging conversation. And it is not small talk. She teaches me intention.
I have a hero who is a whistleblower and an activist. She takes her own experiences and uses them to understand and see the hurt and challenges others are facing and has an unbelievable ability to be there for each and every person that reaches out to her. She does not allow aggressions toward disenfranchised, minority, and poorly treated individuals to continue in her space. She is my local feminist who believes the #metoo movement is her personal responsibility. She teaches me passion.
I have a hero who is a professional boundary setter. I mean, truly. She is clear, protective and communicative about her boundaries. She is unapologetic about her boundaries. This can come at the expense of friendships, but she ends with truth in friends and clear expectations in life and relationships. And with her boundary setting comes an absence of guilt, because it just is what it is and that is her truth. Because of her boundaries, she is a comfortable and non-judgmental place which requires distance from expectations. She teaches me forgiveness.
I have a hero who is a biblical scholar and a wordsmith. She would not believe those two terms, but to me, she has affected my life in the darkest of times with a simple redirection or affirmation based on biblical wisdom that either comforts or sends me in a direction in which I was hesitant to advance. She teaches me courage.
I have a hero who, even in the midst of chemo and surgery, cannot say a bad word about ANYONE. For me, situations tend to bleed into my feelings and behaviors which is unfair to those around me. At a recent dinner with this hero, we ran into a group that was asking her about someone that had been in the news for egregious decisions. When this woman was questioned about the person’s character she didn’t have anything negative to say and it was her truth. Her experience with people and her environment is wonderful and positive and divine and everyone has something to offer. She does not have a bad word to say about anyone, all the time, every day. She teaches me inclusion.
I have a hero who believes strongly in the concept of family. Her life reflects that commitment. She turns down girl weekends for her daughters and husband. She puts those relationships first, bar none, with no hesitation. The health of those relationships ARE her highest priority. She teaches me commitment.
I have a hero who takes the challenges of life, figures them out systematically, understands how they can be changed or dealt with and does so in an even and calm manner. She seems to not get drawn into the pit of emotion when something goes south, but instead, feels it, examines it and then formulates a plan to deal and move through it. She teaches me consistency.
How lucky am I? And that’s not all. I have heroes that own businesses, make people laugh, parent through anxiety, repair relationships, make hard decisions, overcome devastation, workout hard, compete, gather, march, dance, lead, pray, sing and share.
People are in our lives for us to learn, to grow, and to be influenced. We all need each other. Each of my heroes is a part of me and has influenced my thoughts and weaknesses and grown me beyond what would have been possible without them.
Ephesians 4:16 says, “From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part.”
My whole would not be whole without the impact of these women. They inspire my intention, passion, forgiveness, courage, inclusion, commitment, and consistency.
Heroes are important. What inspires, excites and encourages us, makes an impression on our hearts and duplicates itself in our lives and relationships. So, don’t accept your current state. Look around and find a hero that moves you forward. They will be evident because you will have a moment when you are aware that they possess something, when shared authentically, inspires you and causes internal inspection. Use that learning in your own life, it builds and grows us exponentially.
By His Grace