(Photo from www.poptower.com)
There’s this man named J. R. Martinez. He’s learned to redefine deformity and beauty – it’s from the inside out. He seems to have started a whole new movement for self worth and victory over injury, pain, and depression. His good example – and heart-wrenching story- can’t help but encourage us in our own struggles.
J. R. joined the military service at age nineteen, because he wanted to serve his country. Having had a dad who served twenty years in the military, and with a son presently serving in the Navy, I ‘get’ that and it warms my heart. J.R. was severely burned while serving as an Army soldier in Iraq. He thought he was going to die. I imagine there have been times since that accident that he wanted to die.
(Photo from www.ourmilitary.mil)
But he kept on keeping on. Last year, a lot of folks got to know him when he was on a television show called Dancing With the Stars. To be honest, I don’t watch the show, and I didn’t see him. I read about him afterwards. And I figured that there couldn’t be a better Winner that a guy like J.R.
It’s not the impressive dancing that caught my attention. It’s the fact that he’s been through more than thirty surgeries. He is still significantly disfigured according to ‘normal’ standards. But J.R. is much more handsome than any normal standard. And he’s an example that real beauty, grace, and goodness come from the inside.
While J. R. joined the Army to serve his country, it seems he is serving the whole world now – as a survivor with attitude. The kind that says:
I have a purpose! I can do this! There is more to me than I ever imagined!
I loved his words of recognition, of understanding, when he came to realize that he could get past the present pain. He realized that if he were to lean on the Lord, he could find his path and be shown the reason for his survival in the flesh. Then – then, he could translate that reason into his heart. The strength could get him through the surgeries, the pain, the stress, the stares from others…. all of it.
How many times have you been through a dark time and you thought you couldn’t get through it? I thought of the many hard trials I’ve had – a few when I’ve thought there was no more oomph left in me. No more reasoning or clarity. No more strength physically. Just…No more in me. But that is never so. Things change for us when we can see a reason for all things.
There’s a reason. I know it sounds cliche. But there is a reason. We are sometimes disfigured physically. Sometimes, emotionally or spiritually. For those dark or deplorable times, there can be a new well of strength found. A new way of learning to crawl out of the hole, to get back up and try again, or to reach out and find strength by helping someone else who is having a struggle.
If J. R. can do it, so can we. We can look in the mirror [if we need to.] Or simply kneel down and have a candid conversation with the God who made us – and loves us- and wants to help us.
I’ve had to do this. I rarely talk about the many times of critical health problems, or the heavy heart from emotional wounds that have seemed to cripple me. The times of having my heart ripped, it seemed, wide open. Always, always, there has been a quiet voice that finally came whispering to me. That reminded me there is a reason. There is something to learn. There is strength to gain. And there is goodness to grab hold of.
Starting with me- with you – the purpose for our individual life can make itself clear. Digging through the hard stuff until we find more goodness in us, as we find more strength from the Lord, we can celebrate it. When we recognize the not-so-lovely parts, we have a chance to get rid of all that silly, bothersome stuff that doesn’t really matter at all. Genuine goodness comes our way when we seek for it, forsake the vanities of the world, and when we hold on to things of more value. J.R. seems to have learned this valuable, beautiful lesson well.
Then…then… Our purpose makes itself more clear.What matters most comes from within– and works itself outward. Whatever our little part is, we can do it well. No matter how hard the circumstance, we can call on that God who gave us life [and who believes in us more than we believe in ourselves]. And we can soar!
We may not win Dancing With the Stars. Who cares? As long as we see the beauty in ourselves, we start seeing it in other people. The world becomes more friendly. And we find we have a lot more goodness to give.