|Army Bugler Playing Taps in Front of Headstones at Arlington National Cemetery.|
It is a chilly morning. Memorial Day 2013. I'm sitting on my back porch thinking about heroes. I didn't start off on this train of thought, although during my prayer time, I did thank God for the brave men and women who have lost their lives serving my country. And for the ones who, fortunately, made it home safely. I thanked God for those willing to serve, including my father, Harold V. Haatainen, and my step-father, Daniel D. Wagner. I thought of Frank Laaks, a man who inspired more patriotism in me than anyone else ever has. These were men I loved, and miss.
As I was reading my Bible this morning, I came across this verse from Psalm 71:9
Do not cast me off in the time of old age;
Do not forsake me when my strength fails.
Then I started thinking about old age and how our society views it. I thought of how the media addresses it. I thought of movies and television shows where men are constantly bearing their "six-packs" and women are bearing even more. I cringed at the bikini-clad celebrity post-baby bodies that "grace" the covers of magazines. And the headline on my Comcast news feed this morning: Olivia Wilde Shows Off Toned Beach Body.
And, what started off as a good mood, turned sour, like the milk I poured into my morning coffee. My smile curdled into a frown.
We idolize a perceived perfection I believe is hazardous to our mental health. Ask a new mom who is just looking forward to zipping up her jeans again. Is she looking forward to bathing suit season? Probably not. Ask a menopausal woman who cannot, no matter how hard she tries, shed that extra 10 pounds around her middle. Ask a middle-aged man who spends a bit too much time sitting behind a desk so he can pay for his son's college tuition and doesn't have time to devote hours at the gym. Ask the divorcee who comforts herself with ice cream.
How is it we got it so wrong? As I was reading I John chapter 5 this morning, I wondered about the very last verse: Little children, guard yourselves from idols. Hmmm. Did John have a revelation about what society would be like in the late 20th and early 21st centuries? When idols were not those who served, but rather were those who were served? Celebrities served by paid trainers, publicists, and chauffeurs. Athletes served by an adoring public. What about the true servants??
What about the heroes from WWII whose midriffs bear wrinkles and scars rather than six-packs? What about great-grandmas whose backs are bent and hands are stiff and wrinkled from years of leaning over a sewing machine in a factory to provide for their families after war claimed the life of their husbands? What about the men and women on the mission field who sacrificed a life of comfort for a life of danger?
Come on, folks. It's time to start honoring our true heroes and quit perpetuating this ideal of "perfection" being fed to us by the media.
Today, I'm remembering the heroes I've known who have died. I'm thanking God for the heroes I know who are still with us. And I'm asking for God's forgiveness for all the times I've bemoaned my own wrinkles, age spots, and widening girth, for I, too, have fallen victim to the myth of what a true hero looks like.
What about you? Who are your heroes?
Sharing my Monday thoughts with you,