I refuse to be a victim of circumstance. That is a phrase I seldom hear anymore but it’s one I’ve tried to live my life by. Circumstances have not always been kind to me. My father passed away when I was young, my mother’s second marriage was to a very hateful man, my wife and I started our family earlier and with less finances than perhaps was prudent at the time. Despite those things, I have never given in to the blame game that I see so many give into regarding their circumstances and the choices that surround those circumstances. I’m sure you hear it every day; this person’s baby daddy/mommy is a deadbeat. That person’s son or daughter is a hopeless dreamer. So and So’s marriage is a nightmare and they don’t love their spouse anymore and they are contemplating cheating and or divorce. This or that neighbor has three kids to three different people and none of the kids are clothed right, bathed right, or fed right. It’s not fair, it’s not right, it’s unacceptable. To that I say, yes it is, and what are you doing to make it better? When you think about the story that is your life do you want to be the hero or the victim?
I believe many men will think “Of course I’ll be the Hero of my own life story,” but will they? The best place to look for heroic Christianity is in the lives of the Saints. Their lives are just like our own, drudgery, high points, low points, more drudgery, happiness, sorrow, laughter, weeping, people telling them that they will fail/succeed. So what makes them different? They chose to be heroic in everyday things as well as the sacrificial acts that so many became well known for. What is the quest for sainthood if not heroic? In our day of the glorification of victimhood, its time to realize that we are the answer – we are God’s hands and feet. We are the ones that are given the grace to heal the hurt, not just play the victim.
We’re not talking fighting dragons, stopping an otherworldly invasion or Mad Max Thunderdome heroism, we’re talking buying the homeless guy on your way to work a sandwich, befriending the single parent that you know could use the help of another set of eyes watching their kids and keeping them safe, or mowing the lawn of the elderly couple down the street, not because you have to do it but because it’s what’s right. We’re talking everyday heroism and everyday saintliness. Not every day can be driving all the snakes out of Ireland, but every day can be doing a small act of kindness that brings someone (yourself included) closer to reaching the Kingdom of God. Why pursue small acts of kindness on your journey toward salvation? Because, when it all comes down to it, man was made for kindness and charity.
Being a hero or a victim comes down to choice. St. Maximillian Kolbe, St. Gianna Beretta Molla, St. Damien of Molokai, St. Teresa of Calcutta, St. Maria Goretti, and many more gave their time, their forgiveness, their kindness, their lives in authentic acts of Christian heroism. So next time life gets you thinking “Woe is me”, break the habit of self-victimization and push yourself to view the twists and turns, bumps and bruises for what they are, chances for us and others to move further along on our journey toward sainthood. God bless and keep you.
Written by: Zachary Swinehart