True Story

by Joshua Tan

I love a good story.

At bedtime, we huddled around as my mother weaved tales. I was mesmerized. I was the knight, the spy, the wizard. I was slaying the dragon, saving the world, protecting the weak.

I liked imagining my life as a story. I was a hero on adventure, each phase of life, a new chapter.

I wanted to believe that goodness prevails over evil, that love triumphs over bitterness and hate, that light conquers darkness.

In every story, I relished the final showdown between hero and villain. But I never knew how hard it was to be the hero, to pick up my sword, take my place, and confront the dragon. The loss of my grandmother, the rejections of my friends, the shattering of my family. The dragons of life were so much scarier.

Giving up was seductive. Exhaustion stole my hope. Anxiety crippled me. All I could do was limp, avoid the monster, and hope that it’ll just pass by.

“Maybe I don’t have what it takes to be a hero.”

I locked myself in my castle. I shied away from the challenges, from the mountains and seas, the monsters and dragons. “I’ll stay where I am. Who needs adventure anyway?”

But then he came. Jesus, the true hero, the perfect storyteller, came into my life and told me my story.

“You were made to be a hero. Let me show you how.”

I brought to him all of my dark chapters.

Pages of brokenness, wounds, and tears. Memories of feeling unloved, alone, powerless. Taking his pen, he wrote in the margins and in between the lines.

“I was there,” he assured me, “During all of it.

“When you were hurt, I was dressing your wounds. When you felt alone, I was holding you close. When you were rejected, I called you my own”.

I thought a hero would crash in with a sword and shield. Would stand tall and proud amidst the praises of all. Yet Jesus came in tenderness. Who knew how heroic kind words would be? That I could be saved by one gentle touch? He took out his towel and wiped my feet. “No longer will you walk with thorns in your soles. No longer will you walk with a limp in your step. Now you walk with me and in me.

“We have mountains to climb and seas to conquer. We have great news to proclaim to all those who wander.

“Heroes exist in all shapes and forms. Let my kindness be your shield, my gentleness your sword. The monsters of the world have taken my people. But with my love and compassion we can defeat evil.

“Come, let us set off on this grand adventure. We can face the monsters, you and me, together.”

I love good stories.

So how could I resist? I have stopped imagining that my life is an adventure. Because I know that it is. This is an adventure and I am a hero. For nothing is impossible with God. And thus, of course, goodness prevails over evil, love triumphs over bitterness and hate, and light conquers darkness.

Heroes are real. True story.