The Reluctant Hero

Flying away on a wing and a prayer, who could it be? Believe it or not it’s just me!

The Greatest American Hero, an early 1980’s sitcom, endeared us to a very unlikely superhero—an ordinary guy in possession of a special suit. Wearing the suit activated superpowers, including flight. Unfortunately, he lost the instruction book and had no idea how to handle this responsibility. Each episode had him awkwardly and clumsily flying here and there, saving the world, while also living daily life as a husband, father, and teacher.

In June of 2021, I was thrust into a caregiving role. I felt much like the guy in the TV series who lost the instructions and had no idea how to navigate ways to save the world. I had no idea how to be a caregiver and unfortunately for me, there was no instruction book. But I chose to do this to honor a loved one.

I have never considered myself a hero, and I still don’t. In this season, I felt I had no choice but to perform some rather heroic acts on a daily basis. For months. Months that felt like years. Many years. Illogically, it felt like forever.

I need to clarify that I most definitely did not handle this all on my own, though I felt very alone. I had the very best help—the divine kind, from God Himself. Otherwise, I truly don’t think I would have survived.

It was brutal.

But it was right, and it was what God called me to do. I now know that had I had any understanding of what I was getting myself into, I would have run screaming in the other direction. I did not want to be a hero.

I learned a lot the hard way–in the hard, sharp, frustrating, painful dark. My journal entries reflected the darkness, illuminating the soul-crushing chaos that grew more violent each day: “This is hell. No, wait, that was nothing. This is hell. No, wait, all that was a walk in the park. This is hell. No wait—THIS, NOT ANYTHING BEFORE THIS, IS MY ENTRANCE INTO HELL. Everything preceding this was a walk in the park.”  

I allowed myself to lose hope and lose sight of all I knew about God and His faithfulness. I allowed everything about God’s love and compassion and presence to be overshadowed by the storm of my circumstances. I dove in and I stayed under. I forgot how to breathe.

I gave myself away. I lost all hope. I lost myself.
I became entrapped, encapsulated, engulfed.
I lived in a completely different world, with brand new rules that made no sense and constantly changed to become more and more nonsensical.
I lived with constant, unpredictable changes in what was and was not expected of me.
I experienced a darkness so deep that there was no perception at all. Not even the tiniest pinprick of light anywhere.
Nothingness. Emptiness. Utter aloneness.
Overwhelming fear always present.
The unknown loomed large and kept away any confidence in any decision-making effort in this completely foreign existence.
No rest. No peace.
Some moments of comfort, but so fleeting, and sadly, always laced with dread. Dread was a continual baseline, infiltrating every breath.
A soul-deep longing for an end to this continual madness, and guilt for feeling that longing.
So many days my goal was to simply survive the day. So many days I literally did not believe I would survive the day.
Some days I didn’t want to survive the day.

Yes, I was the most unlikely, reluctant, clumsy hero ever. But I was able, with God’s help, to give a loved one what he most wanted—to be cared for at home.

As seasons do, this season ended. Here, where life is imperfect, it did not end in the best possible way. But in the perfect world God created for us to spend eternity, the best new beginning was realized. All the struggling and suffering and hardship is over forever for someone I loved and did my best to care for in the last months of his life.

I can now look back and see how God’s plan unfolded perfectly to provide brand-new opportunities for me in a brand-new season of life. He was never absent; I was never alone. I now have stronger faith forged through intense trial. I am grateful. God is the real hero here, but He chose to use me.

Lauri Smith is a serious-minded deep thinker who instinctively longs to run from adventure. She is a grateful recipient of the love of Jesus, who continually leads her on adventures of the soul. She digs deep to gain knowledge and understanding of the incomprehensible grace and God-ness of God. Her passion for writing is inborn, and she is honored to encourage others with it.