In her SWAT Magazine article on my smuggling efforts the other day, Claire Wolfe paid me this high compliment.
Mike has been under constant treatment for cancer, a heart condition, and a host of related health problems. He has kept going through sufferings and debility that would have sent lesser people (including, emphatically, me) into idle self-pity.
The thing is, it is undeserved. It is, in fact, day by day, more or less untrue. Some days I get up and wish desperately to just lay back down. Some days I have to. Hardly a day goes by that I don't fail to accomplish some task I have set out for myself, which is a defection from the faith that y'all place in me. I am as prone as anybody to self pity and it was in one of those "troughs of despond" the other day that I received an email from a new reader in Georgia, Bob, whose kind words proved just the ticket to get me going again. I responded:
"Bless you for your kind words, Bob. You have no idea how well timed they are -- just when I needed them. This is a spiritual war we fight as much as anything and your email arrived at a particular low point when I have started letting some of the crap to wear me down. You remind me that I have many friends out there and that they certainly outnumber my enemies. Thanks. I will now "drink water and drive on," as my son says. . . Anyway, thanks for the kind words. I needed them."
And I certainly did. God has a way of giving us what we need. But it is important to remember that what we need is different than what we want. I repeat that lesson to myself every day I go to the post office box. "Remember," I tell myself, "what I need, not what I want." It is a lesson in humility that, whenever I need it, God is close at hand to remind me of.
The other day, He brought me up short with another reminder. Subscription donations have been a bit thin this month, but some folks send what they can on a more-or-less regular basis and you begin to count on that. Richard is one of those regular supporters. Just like clockwork every month he has sent in a subscription donation. Yesterday I got another envelope from him and I expected the same. The only thing is, it was a short note apologizing to me that he couldn't send any this month because he lost his part-time job. Get that? HE was apologizing to ME. Talk about an undeserved respect. Talk about a lesson in humility. Here I was wondering about me, and he lost his job and felt bad that he couldn't send more right now and felt it necessary to explain it to me. I am the one who should be apologizing to him, for not accomplishing more with the resources that he sent.
Talk about the lesson of the widow's mite. It floored me. There are others who are regular contributors. You know who you are. Some of you send money when you can, some send in-kind contributions like brass, some send magazines to smuggle, some send just words -- but what words. Some of you are living in places that we only half-jokingly refer to as "behind enemy lines" now, risking much more than I do on a daily basis just to exercise your God-given and inalienable rights that the rest of us take for granted. It is so inadequate, to try to thank the folks who make your work possible. The folks whose mere words sometimes perk you up and keep you going -- who make you realize how important it is to ignore the petty inconveniences, the personal attacks, and keep going no matter what. They make you realize that it is not about you -- that in the grand scheme of things what matters is all of us. What matters is the fight. What matters is to stand, together.
Holding Richard's note in my hands, I felt so selfish, so inadequate to the task, yet so determined at the same time to live up to the faith that folks have in our common cause. I just wanted to let you know -- all of you -- how important your words and support are. To the extent I get anything done, I would tell Claire Wolfe, it is because of y'all. If that's courage, it's a common courage that derives from you, and you seem to have it in greater supply than I do. I am fortunate that God allows me to tap into it when I really need it. Thanks. It's such an inadequate word, isn't it? Thanks.
May God bless and keep you, Richard. May God bless and keep you all, as back into the fight we go.