In the photograph, an image, a bit dark and faded, holds my attention. Black and white images feel slightly familiar, not quite real. In the middle of the grassy yard, a little boy poses, his toy sword held high, a black cape tied under his chin. Completing his makeshift costume we see the infamous black mask along with a child sized cowboy hat and boots. On this day, the boy is Zorro, the dashing fictional outlaw who defends simple folk against harsh officials and other terrible bad guys. A hero to the common man.
Standing directly behind this young home-made hero, stands a little pony-tailed girl. Holding Zorro’s cape for the picture, she is beaming, honored to be the faithful side-kick to this amazing super hero.
Well, of course Zorro was popular years ago, when I was young. And yes, that little girl was me and Zorro was my brother, 2 ½ years older.
I loved my brother, I still do. But it took me a long time to see that I had put him up on a pedestal, thinking he could do no wrong.
What wasn’t there to admire? My dear brother was the one I came to when I needed anything, He was wise and kind and loved me with such a warm brotherly love. I looked up to him more than anyone else because he was with me. After he gave me some wise advice about boys one time, I wrote in my little diary, “Christ talks to me through Dale.” I mean, I truly thought Dale was the best. He talked to me about our dad, our family, Jesus and life in general. He truly was my closest confidante.
For many years I kept my hero-brother, high up on a pedestal. He continued to be my champion through out my growing up years and beyond. He never donned a sword or scratched a huge Z whenever he did a good deed, but he did leave a deep impression of care, kindness, leadership and love in this little sister’s heart.
He was my hero. He still is, but now, in a different way.
As I progressed in my healing work, I learned that putting someone on a pedestal is unhealthy. That person can feel pressure to perform, to always be wise and right. The temptation toward pride and control can begin to change or mar the relationship. Needs within the “revered” one can come out in unhealthy ways.
No one should be placed in this position. No one.
So, I said goodbye to that part of our relationship. Only One is perfect and He truly is God. I wanted a healthier more realistic friendship with this dearly loved brother.
We talked and I assured him of my continued deep love and admiration for all he had done for me. But I had to hold out my hand and help him down off that idol stand. No one deserves that place, no matter how much they like being there.
Many years have passed. We are now both in our 60s. We have married children of our own and grandchildren are starting to lighten up our paths. But the love, admiration and kindness remain.
He recently wrote a note that included many deep things, indicating his understanding of me. One part stands out: …”I see you as special among the wounded healers.
I have admired the way you have grabbed healing with powerful determination to have it. I have noted that you have done this with more ferocious and gentle yearning than I have ever been able to muster.”
Please note: I gave up an unhealthy part of the relationship. I didn’t give up the relationship. As I stepped down from hero worship I gave way for a fresh wholesome friendship to develop.
Also note: he never asked to be my hero. He just stepped into his little sister’s need and led even though he was a little boy who was also in need of being led. I love him so much for giving of himself for me and our family.
I guess I tell you this to encourage you to do “whatever it takes” to be healthy. When saying goodbye might hurt, you do it anyway. When the giving up of a bad relationship seems to leave you hopeless, do it anyway. If a sin hangs on and lies to you that you will be better with it, turn around. STOP. Say the goodbye. It will lead to healing and it will make all the difference in your journey.
When asked which commandment was the most important, Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
(Mark 12:29) Listen to God’s Word. See what he says about himself and realize that no one comes even close to being a hero like he does. Only He deserves such admiration and honor.
That little girl holding the cape of her mighty hero was only doing the best she could with what she knew. But she grew up and did what she could to keep that friendship healthy and growing for many years.