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Becoming our own heroes

Updated: Feb 10, 2020

I just got off the phone with an old friend. Up until today, he was one of the kindest, most sensitive, generous, and saddest people I’ve ever known. Today he got closure on a battle that waged within him for over thirty years.

Imagine letting go of a burden you’ve always carried…

Today he has both joy for receiving some measure of justice and regrets over what his abuser stole from him. I acknowledge that there is much to be grieved, but I say that regret robs him of what he can have today. I’m suggesting that he hold on to the overwhelming relief he feels and focus on what this makes possible in his life.

What he’s free to be and become now is greater than anything that’s ever been possible for him.

He gets to live knowing that he protected children and other innocents. He gets to live every day knowing that he has ensured safety for others. He is nothing short of a hero.

Talking with him, I hear Papa Roach singing this in my head:

“I am a man at war And I am fighting for All of the broken people All of the people thrown overboard They always tried to shame us But they don’t speak the language No, we’re not nameless, we’re not faceless We were born for greatness.”  – “Born for Greatness”

I love this song. The line that grabs me every time is “they don’t speak the language.”

There are things we cannot explain. If you haven’t been through some form of hell, no amount of explanation will suffice.

But if you’ve been through hell, and you came out on the other side…then you know.

And if you’re still in hell – then my heart goes out to you – and I want to know you. I pray that you find a guide – someone who knows the terrain, to help you find your way out. There’s a story about this that my friends in Narcotics Anonymous taught to me:


…and couldn’t get out.

A businessman went by and the addict called out for help. The businessman threw him some money and told him to buy himself a ladder. But the addict could not buy a ladder in this hole he was in.

A doctor walked by. The addict said, “Help! I can’t get out!” The doctor gave him some drugs and said, “Take this. It will relieve the pain.” The addict said thanks, but when the pills ran out, he was still in the hole.

A well-known psychiatrist rode by and heard the addict’s cries for help. He stopped and asked, ” How did you get there? Were you born there? Did your parents put you there? Tell me about yourself, it will alleviate your sense of loneliness.” So the addict talked with him for an hour, then the psychiatrist had to leave, but he said he’d be back next week.

The addict thanked him, but he was still in the hole. A priest came by. The addict called for help. The priest gave him a Bible and said, “I’ll say a prayer for you.” He got down on his knees and prayed for the addict, then he left. The addict was very grateful, he read the Bible, but he was still stuck in the hole.

A recovering addict happened to be passing by. The addict cried out, “Hey, help me. I’m stuck in this hole!” Right away the recovering addict jumped down in the hole with him. The addict said, “What are you doing? Now we’re both stuck here!!” But the recovering addict said, “Calm down. It’s okay. I’ve been here before. I know how to get out.”

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