I strongly dislike the word “inspirational”. Maybe it’s a throwback to my angst-ridden, poetry-writing, adolescent days. Maybe it’s the cavity-inducing Hallmark Hall of Fame or Chicken Soup for the Soul image it conjurs up. Really, though, I think what bugs me is the idea of some talk or story or movie that fills you with a “warm fuzzy”, then is promptly forgotten. This is what makes me a little uncomfortable when people apply this word to me and my story. How exactly are we defining our terms here?
Are we talking about being a nice slogan for a poster with puppies on it, or being someone who people nod their heads at and think, “yeah, she’s really amazing”? Well, that’s hardly worth losing a kid over, much less two. I remember thinking after Peter died, “people better change their lives because of this!” Conversion, the radical reorientation of lives away from sin and toward God… the idea that people will stay out of hell because of our suffering, this is about all that seems like it would be worth it.
Yet I don’t get to decide how people will react to my life and story. I have kept sharing about what I have experienced, about my struggles and my firm belief in God’s plan for my life, because others have told me it has helped them. I have kept offering up my suffering because I know that this is a powerful way to intercede for others. God, for His, part, has promised to be faithful. He hasn’t promised to let me decide how others react. I could experience the worst suffering imaginable up in the most perfect way, and others still might think me just an “inspiration”. Especially since it has happened before.
Jesus, God made man, came down from Heaven to save us and did it by undergoing the worst possible physical pain, betrayal, and feeling of spiritual desolation. Surely, He desires conversion from us to have made His pain “worth it”. And yet, He respects our free will so much that He does not require it. Instead, He patiently endures the further heartache of being considered by so many merely “a good teacher”, or “a revolutionary rabbi”… in short, an “inspirational figure”. So, what is good enough for the Master, needs to be good enough for me.