What makes one a hero? A superhero even? I just know this. A hero has the power to never get stuck or stay stuck.
Stuck… That’s how we feel sometimes, especially when facing issues that are out of our control and beyond our power to fix. I learned from Psych 101 back in my college days that if this feeling persists over time, it can turn into what we called “learned helplessness, a condition in which a person suffers from a sense of powerlessness, arising from a traumatic event or persistent failure to succeed. It is thought to be one of the underlying causes of depression. Events such as failing a test, losing an irreparable relationship, getting a rejection letter from a job interview, not meeting a certain goal even after what seemed to be numerous attempts…can all trigger this heart-sinking feeling of being helpless.
If you have heard about Martin Pistorius and read his book, Ghost Boy: The Miraculous Escape of a Misdiagnosed Boy Trapped Inside His Own Body, you would think no one can be more stuck and helpless than he. (If you haven’t read the book, I recommend it.) He was a normal tween until he became 12 when a mysterious illness struck him. He then gradually lost touch with the world as he became mute and unresponsive to the entire world. But that’s not the cruelest of all circumstances. Two years after being struck with the mysterious illness which exiled him from the world, he woke up – unbeknownst to all. He was stuck in his own body, not being able to communicate with anyone and no one, not his family nor friends, not his abusers nor attackers knew someone was alive and alert in that vulnerable shell. Read the book to find out the rest of this amazing story.
His resilience and mental strength through this journey are astonishing. Even greater are his power to forgive the worst of abusers and his encounter with God. Another person is this real story that has won my admiration was his father. His father’s perseverance and love to care for his son despite what seemed to be futile effort to revive his son and his wife’s surrender to hopelessness mirrors the kind of love that only God has the power to give.
While Martin and his father were at many times at the brink of falling into the trap of “learned helplessness” They were able to arise from the worst of circumstances – not because the circumstances changed completely (it didn’t), but because of their refusal to remain helpless and their refusal to stop hoping. I am reminded by Martin’s story to never get stuck in life by doing nothing but dwell on losses. People should not let life handle them, they should handle life. Such is the power of a true hero.
Ghost Boy: The Miraculous Escape of a Misdiagnosed Boy Trapped Inside His Own Body by Martin Pistorius
Easy reading 🙂