Me and Thor have a lot in common. Blonde hair, full beard, good looks, able to call down lightning, wield a a big hammer, his dad is the All-Father and he has a misaligned cocky brother.
Ok, so, other then the good looks, we really don’t have a lot in common on the surface. (Yeah, yeah, I know what you are thinking, we both do grow pretty epic beards, but I’m letting that one slide for the sake of humility.) But when you dig deep down into what made Thor.. well.. Thor, it was that he found a purpose in using his abilities and talents to defend people from bullies and those who would take advantage of them. Granted, those bullies were space aliens and super beings, but none the less, he is a protector.
Over the last two decades or so (that hurt a whole lot worse typing then I thought it would), I have stood in the trenches working with youth. In those years, there are times where I have actively stood in defense for them, fighting alongside them as they overcome one obstacle or another. Standing by their side, encouraging them to continue the good fight, to stay in school, to go on to college, to help them plant their feet firmly in their faith, and to become strong men and women of conviction and courage.
And then there are those times I would have to stand quietly in the background of their lives, watching them struggle with the currents situation, watching them choose to dive into bad decisions, knowing it won’t end well for them, hoping that they would figure it out before it got too bad, but always there when they needed me to be, and always ready to help fight the battle after the fall.
And there is always a battle after the fall.
The battle of self worth, guilt, shame, unsure-ness. I would step into the fray by sharing my own shortcomings and failings. How I am who I am today because of the battles I lost. I would walk with them through the process of rediscovering that they have value, that they are cared for, that they have a future. I would remind them that they serve a God who has always, will always, and still loves them.
Sometimes, the best defense you can have is knowing who (and who’s) you are.
After all, it worked for me.
Besides, when all else fails…
They say a good defense is having a better offense, and that offense for Thor was Mjolnir. Although I may not have that mighty hammer, I do have a sword, her name is Kindness, and I have a bat, his name is Sense. Because every now and then, if you can’t kill them with Kindness, you might as well beat some Sense into them.