‘He is my Hero!’ ‘He is the ultimate; I want to be like him!’ ‘What would my life be without her!’ We have all experienced this craze at some time or another… Some of us don’t swoon about movie stars, footballers or F1 winners, our heroes are in our homes, neighborhood or community. They are people who command our respect in any area that is special to us, be it politics, culture, entertainment or even spirituality. We place them on a pedestal and hold them in high esteem.
Our lives and all our important decisions sometimes rotate around them or are influenced by them. You won’t shrug your shoulders when you see someone who is dressed up like Michael Jackson, walks and talks like him. Some people take it to extremes and collect memorabilia; building monuments to the person they idolize. Then again we have the family member or neighborhood hero who is the reason why we chose a line of work or hobby. They affect our dreams and our future.
I’ve seen a lot of people whose hero-worship came to a point and then slowly died out. They grow over it and carry on with their lives. Perhaps they realized that there is a lot more to life than the larger than life images of their ‘heroes’. Perhaps they saw through the façade and learned that beneath that image the ‘hero’ was just like every other person. Some people are not so lucky. They learn the truth the hard way when their hero does something to break their trust or goes against the fundamental beliefs that they stand for while spoiling their image in public. At such times being aligned with that hero becomes a painful experience.
Placing someone on a pedestal involves blind faith. It is something like taking a huge microscope and admiring just one part of something that in reality has many other sides to it. However we are so besotted about that one part that we fool ourselves into thinking that the one part we are looking at is actually ‘the whole’. We programme ourselves to see that one part throughout our lives. The truth is this programming of our minds would actually succeed if it was not for the hard knocks we get in life!
I’ve grown up the hard way. I’ve had enough hard knocks to make me cynical about people around. My experiences with parents, siblings and some others have taught me that I should not expect anyone to be perfect. These experiences have taught me that 99 percent of the time people will fail you.
There was a time when I couldn’t find any fault in my parents and siblings. I blindly believed every word they said and never imagined that they could even ‘dream’ of hurting me. The fact that I was very different from them didn’t help me. I wanted so desperately to belong that I looked up to them and wanted to be like them!
Over the years when they did something wrong or hurt me, my mind would throw up different excuses for lapses on their part. I was the perfect cover-up agent! ‘Oh! I’m sure they didn’t have a clue I would feel like this…’ The ultimate line was ‘Maybe there is something wrong with me’ or ‘I’m just not worth it…’ I barely realized that in this game of keep up a fallen hero I was pulling myself down and building an edifice for them over me.
Sadly for me, all the time I spent battling to keep them on that pedestal only meant that there would be more and more hard knocks for me. Years later, I woke up from my sleep and found myself alone… terribly alone. Something in me told me that this was what I was trying to run away from in the first place. I didn’t want to be alone. Finally I was left without any heroes and without any helper to pick me up from the miserable depths I had fallen down to.
During the time I struggled with these issues, I found that all I ever needed was true faith – faith in God, His truth and faith in who I was and who I was made to be. Learning this turned on the light inside my heart, my mind and my spirit. I learned that there was nothing wrong in being myself and being different. I learned that everyone has a life of their own to live and that ‘everyone’ included me too. Suddenly I could release them from that pedestal and let them be.
I realized I didn’t have to live my life like a puppet playing to ‘their expectations’, I could be myself, have my own goals and spend my life in pursuit of these goals. I was finally freed from the vicious circle that hero-worship pulls us into – making your whole life about celebrating your hero which when in extreme amounts to a kind of self-destruction.
Now I sing a different kind of song. I encourage everyone to find out who they are and what they are meant to be. Just as a hand has five fingers of different sizes and different strengths but together they help us to do a variety of things. Similarly even in a family, each individual is made differently and has different strengths, likes and dislikes. Each person has a different God-given purpose for their life which they will need to find out for themselves and then figure out how to fulfill it. Comparison and living someone else’s dream is an absolute no-no! Being remote-controlled and remote-controlling anyone else is unthinkable!
The basic fundamental truth is that no two individuals – even if they look alike – are the same. Each and every one of us is unique and has infinite potential. It is a known and established fact that every person’s thumb-print is unique and different. Similarly, the make-up of their personality is pre-ordained and intricately woven through time. We find written in the Bible the words, ‘For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.’ (Psalm 139:13-14NIV) This reinforces and emphasizes our uniqueness.
Released from the cage of self-depreciation and finally having found the ability to stand… I relish this newfound freedom and wouldn’t part with it for anything or anyone in the world. When I see those who are successful I think about what I can learn from them for my own life. I am very carefully strain out their undesirable behavior traits while I choose to emulate what is good in them. Now I find it easier to allow those who used to be my heroes to be human, live their own lives, make mistakes and learn from them.