I still can see my grandmother standing at the back door yelling, “If I ever see you doing that again, I will call the police!” Waving a wiggly grass snake in his hand, a boy chased me all the way home from school - 4 blocks from Longfellow Elementary to my house. I was terrified and probably screaming all the way. My grandmother must have heard me and opened the back door just as we got near -a vivid memory even though years later.
Renna Katherine Hearne Hinkle was usually a retiring, quiet woman preferring to be in the background. Her pastor husband died suddenly of a heart attack at 52 and she had come to live with my mom and me to take care of us while my mother worked. I had NEVER seen my grandmother act like that EVER. In one loud sentence, she invoked the power of the entire Houston police force as her ally. I was impressed. It was wonderful - her protection of me from “snake boy”.
How many other “snakes” had she warded off – by her prayers, by her modeling a deep love for and trust in God, by being present, by giving stability to my mom and me, by introducing me to Jesus? In my story, she is definitely one of my heroes. She was present. She was always there. She sat by me early on when I practiced the piano. She walked with me to church or we rode the bus together. She made all of my clothes. She was my anchor of stability at a time in my story when I desperately needed that.
She was God’s clear provision. She never drove a car. She never owned her own home. She did not have a portfolio. She certainly never used a computer, but her life impacted mine in a way that made all the difference. I can’t imagine how my journey would have been without her.
Annette Simmons writes in her book The Story Factor, “In a land of complex reality story makes sense of chaos and gives people a plot. Story gives definition to the experiences of the past. A story can reframe frustration, suffering, or extra effort as meaningful.”
Story is a way to recognize God’s process and development in one’s life and how we are a part of His story. Reflecting on the events, people and impact of these in one’s story enables one to see God’s grace, His goodness, times of blessing, challenge and protection woven into the mundane details. Details can be charted in categories: heroes, heritage, high points, hard times and hand of God.
My grandmother’s investment in me made all the difference. She was right out of Paul’s description in I Thessalonians 2 of nurturing gentleness imparting her own life. She was a profound, pivotal person in my journey.
So, what’s your story? Who are some of your heroes?