Be a hero

Heroes. . . They’re the people who made us who we are today. They may have been the leader we patterned our lives after; the beacon who steered us to our career; the spiritual leader who crafted our moral inner self; or the cheerleader who never gave up on us.

Heroes. If there are fewer today than in our younger days, it is only because we have demanded too much from them. We have come to expect perfection, not only from our heroes, but from our business associates, our political leaders, our neighbors, our teachers, our friends, ourselves.

Maybe the problem in today’s world is you can literally find out just about everything there is to know about a person. Knowing everything includes knowing the less than hero-like qualities in each of us. We all have them, so the longer you look and the more you know, the less heroic they become.

The ordination ceremony in the United Methodist Church used to (and maybe still does) include a question to all incoming preachers — “Are you striving for perfection?”

One year, a preacher-to-be replied, “No,” to which the bishop responded, “I didn’t say ‘are you going to reach perfection,’ I said ‘Are you striving for it?’”

True heroes strive for perfection, acknowledge they’ll never reach it, and forgive others when they fall short of it.

A lady named Phyllis Schultz was my 4-H leader . . . and my hero. She was the lady who made all the wedding gowns and bridesmaid dresses for just about everybody. She catered all the wedding parties and made tier after tier of wedding cake. And, she raised a family of five children.

Even though there were 30 or 40 kids in the club, it was Phyllis who taught them all to sew. The lessons began early in the day at her house. As she leaned over you at the sewing machine, you could feel her eyes watching; her breath on your neck.

I learned service to community from Phyllis. Long after her children were grown, she remained a 4-H leader.

I learned hard work from Phyllis, and something most of us forget . . . hard work without complaining.

I also learned life isn’t always perfect or easy or fair. Phyllis’ family, like most families, had its share of trials and heartaches. When her health was so bad she could barely see, or her legs so swollen she couldn’t stand, Phyllis continued to do the things she had always done so admirably—teach children to sew and to cook and to lead and to live.

Be a hero, if only to your own children.
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True heroes strive for perfection, acknowledge they’ll never reach it, and forgive others when they fall short of it.
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Judy Mae Bingman
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