Heroes

13548544216318Monday will mark the observance of Martin Luther King Day in the United States. I was a child when the holiday was added to the calendar, and I remember some of the grumbling I heard from adults. In order to add his memorial to the calendar, George Washington’s birthday and Abraham Lincoln’s birthday were combined into President’s Day, so there was a lot of push back about how the contributions of Martin Luther King, Jr. didn’t even come close to the contributions of either Washington or Lincoln. Then, there were the comments about his moral character and questions about his fidelity to his wife.

I’ve never bothered to do a study to see who gave the most worthwhile contributions to the US, nor have a studied Dr. King’s private life. I have no need or desire, and it’s not the focus of my thoughts today.

The truth is, every hero I can call to mind was flawed. I love the way Jeffrey R. Holland stated it:

Except in the case of His only perfect Begotten Son, imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to Him, but He deals with it. So should we.

Take a look

  • Moses had to flee from Egypt because he killed a man, tried to turn down his call to be a prophet, and even disobeyed a direct commandment from God after being called as a prophet.
  • Joseph Smith admitted that he was a little too drawn to having fun and joking around.
  • I’m pretty sure that Abraham Lincoln suffered from depression.

And the list goes on heroes with tempers, heroes with emotional issues, heroes who wanted to be anything but. They became heroes by rising above their humanity and serving a cause greater than their individual benefit.

I find this encouraging for two reasons:

  1. Even though I am not trying to set myself up as a hero, if I am trying to be better and do better through the grace of God, I must be on the right track. As with anyone else who has chosen this ideal, there will be those who are all too ready to point out my flaws — most of which I am already painfully aware. Even so, I can take courage that I am putting more good out into the world than those who have decided to step back and stop trying.
  2. It’s o.k. to honor flawed and imperfect people for the good that they do and the good that they are. Maybe that’s part of what the Savior was getting at when He told us that the second great commandment is to love our neighbor the way we would love ourselves.