MeatHead Movers exemplifies exactly what the world needs when it comes to chivalrous behavior. Chivalry isn’t always about setting out in the beginning to do something amazing, it’s about doing the right thing when the time comes. Chivalry is about finding simple solutions to vital needs. What can you do to help those around you today?
Yesterday I crossed paths with two knights. Yep. You read that right. Two KNIGHTS.
I mentioned in an earlier blog that my dad passed away a little over a year ago. He was the pastor of our small church, and, as a result of all that came our way in the wake of his passing, we are still sorting through the books, files, and tools which he kept at the church. Among those things were two large, four-drawer filing cabinets. While I’ve nearly mastered the art of wrestling my own heavy two-drawer cabinets from one corner of the house to another, I’m no match for any four-drawer cabinet. Not only that but between my mom and I, we have a Pontiac G6, a Plymouth Breeze, and a Suzuki Swift. While each of these has its endearing features, none of them were designed to haul—well, anything.
We knew the two of us could move the cabinets from the office at the church to my mom’s home office. We would need help. This is where the first knight comes into the story. Our very dear friend and church deacon offered to help us move the cabinets because he has a pickup. He is a very kind man with a big heart, and is always looking for ways to help others. He is also 83.
I was just about to leave work when my mom called to tell me that he had decided yesterday was the day to move the cabinets, even though we didn’t have any other help available. The thought of him hoisting those monstrosities up into that truck alone was not a good one. So, I finished up what I was doing as quickly as possible and met him at the church. By the time I got there, he and his wife were already hard at work. They had three of the drawers out of one of the cabinets and were working on getting the cabinet itself loaded onto a dolly. I jumped in and did my best to help, all the while thinking of how much effort this required of him. There was never a word of complaint, never a mumble or a sense that he wanted to be somewhere else or doing something else, which, to be honest, is certainly what was going through my mind. He was simply happy to be coming to the rescue of a friend in need. That is chivalry.
We had just loaded the second cabinet into the back of the pickup and were strapping things down when I glanced up at the traffic on the busy street that runs alongside our church parking lot. I happened to catch sight of a small pickup and its driver. As they passed, the driver watched our goings on. I suppose we were quite a sight. After all, it’s not every day you see an elderly couple and a woman in a skirt and dress blouse hauling filing cabinets up into the bed of a pickup truck. A few minutes later, just as we were tying the last knot, that same pickup pulled into our parking lot and right up next to where we were working.
We greeted the man through his open window. He returned the greeting and then promptly said, “Do you guys need help?”
Enter knight number two. That man, like all the others who passed us, could have so easily just kept on going. But he didn’t. He drove up to the roundabout, went all the way around it, and came back to help us. That is chivalry.
We laughed about how we had just finished.
“Well,” he joked, “that’s what life’s all about, right? Timing?” But he didn’t just whip back out on the road again and leave us. He asked twice more if he could help somehow. He saw a situation of obvious need and wouldn’t let it go until he knew for sure he could do nothing. That is chivalry.
Once he had gone, we loaded the three drawers, covered them with a blanket, and then took the whole load to the house. We got everything safely put into place, and I only had to crawl over the porch banisters once to do it! Now, my mom can sort and file to her heart’s content. But if it hadn’t been for these knights, our deacon in particular, the cabinets would still be at the church with no one to get them where they belong.
My knights were simple men. Neither of them wore suits of armor. Neither of them rode gallant steeds. They chose pickups instead—the very thing needed for the task. I’m sure neither of them saw anything particularly special about what they were doing, but in truth they had picked up the banner of chivalry and were bearing it well.
Has someone behaved gallantly toward you recently? I’d love to hear your story! Please share in the comments below.
P.S. I haven’t been posting much of late, but that’s because I’ve been working on something big. Keep an eye out because it’s coming soon. If you haven’t already, take a minute to subscribe to Shadows of Chivalry (top right hand corner). That way you won’t miss anything!
Locking your car doors is a good habit—unless, of course, you’ve already tossed your keys inside. Then you literally find yourself on the outside looking in, wishing you had thought things through a little more carefully. That’s exactly where I found myself last week. Before leaving work for the day, I had to make a quick trip from our office building to the other building on the property. It’s about a quarter mile round trip, so rather than hauling my water bottle, travel mug, and a heavy bag back and forth, I dumped them in my car as I passed and, out of habit, locked the doors. It wasn’t until I came back that I realized what I had done. I felt dumb. Really dumb. I don’t lock my keys in the car often, in fact, I think this was the first time in close to ten years, but still… So, there I was, a damsel in distress, staring through the window at the lock on the door—and that’s where chivalry came in.
I called my mom, but she didn’t have a spare key. About then, my manager found out what was happening. I told her I was going to call my sister to see if they had an extra key. My brother-in-law has been driving my other car, and I knew at one point I had a spare on that key ring. My manager’s first response was, “I’ll take you to your sister.”
That seems like a simple enough task, but here’s the thing, my sister lives 24 miles from where I work. We would have had to go nearly 50 miles just to unlock my car, but my manager was ready. She was ready to drive all the way out there and all the way back. When I told her that my sister might not have the keys, they might be with my brother-in-law who was at work—seventeen miles from where we were and in the complete opposite direction of my sister’s house—she was still willing to go.
Just then, I got a hold of my sister. She had the keys right there, and was actually headed out the door to come into town. She quickly offered to bring the spare key to me. Again, chivalry. Yes, she was already committed to make the drive before I called her because her errands were bringing her to the area, but she didn’t have to interrupt her day to help me. She could have said, “Yeah, I have the keys, but I was headed to pick up one of the girls’ friends for a movie. We can come by after the movie, or maybe you could find a way to meet us somewhere.” But she didn’t say that. In fact, there wasn’t even the slightest hint of hesitance, aggravation, or annoyance. She just said, “Sure, I’ll be there.”
It seems like a simple thing, maybe even insignificant, to bring a key to someone who has locked themselves out of their car, but it was huge in my day. I had a lot on my plate that afternoon, and none of it would have been done if I’d had to spend the afternoon trying to find a way into my car.
About the same time I was giving my sister a goodbye hug, my cellphone rang. It was my boss. She had already left the office, but she was calling to make sure I’d gotten help. Even though she had left early because she wasn’t feeling good, and even though it was a hot day, and even though her truck doesn’t have air conditioning, she was still willing to drive the fifty miles to make sure I wasn’t left stranded. She was still willing, just like my sister, to come to the rescue.
Chivalry isn’t always about dangerous, daring rescues. Sometimes, it’s just about the little rescues. The ones that save the day for just one person, which, unbeknownst to us, might just be saving the day for far more than just one. We never know what taking the time to do that one thing for someone else might actually be accomplishing in their life. Nor do we know what not doing it will bring about in their life. I’m certainly grateful for my two ladies in shining armor.
Have you had any chivalry sightings lately?
I recently met a single mom who absolutely amazes me, and she probably doesn’t have any idea how truly awesome she is. If you see her coming down the street, you’ll see a small, bright, smiling woman, who looks just like anyone else. The more you get to know her, however, the more you realize she is absolutely full of courage. I hope someday, with her permission, to tell you more of her story, but for now I want to share one little moment.
First, let me set the stage. Fourteen months ago, my dad passed away unexpectedly. Dad and I did a lot of fixing things together. We fixed computer issues. We fixed house issues. We fixed car issues. When he died, a lot of that “fixing” fell to me. Some of it was very hard to do without him, not just the work but also the emotional aspect of it all. Still, I managed to maintain things around the house that he would have normally handled or that we would have done together. I took on a lot of challenges, but I couldn’t quite seem to drag myself back to our car maintenance. When push finally came to shove, I gave up and took my car to a shop to have the oil changed.
Last week, my new friend walked into the room I was in, looked down at her grimy hands and very humbly, very quietly said, “Yeah, last night was my third night in a row working on the cooling system for my car.” She then went on to describe all of the things she had done, the steps she had taken to get it to the point it was at, and what she still planned to do in order to finish fixing it.
I listened in amazement. My mechanical skills and knowledge fall far short of what she was describing. I was encouraged. If she could do it, so could I. Yes, it would be different. Yes, Dad would be missing from the equation. Yes, I would probably have to find, maybe even buy, the right tools. But I could do the simple things.
Fast forward to the end of the week. My mom and I were getting ready to take a trip over the Beartooth Pass. (It was awesome by the way.) The night before we left, Mom remembered to tell me that one of the headlights on her car had burned out. I was almost certain we wouldn’t make it home before dark the following night. I wanted to run off, find the parts, and fix things right then, but my mom talked me out of it.
It’s a good thing I didn’t try fixing the problem that night. Have you ever changed the headlight on a Pontiac G6? I’ve never wrestled a pig, but I imagine it’s a lot like that—just without the mud. Not knowing this, I pulled together everything I would need and decided Tuesday night was the night to conquer. But that pig just didn’t want to cooperate. Little did I know before starting that you almost have to remove the fender to get the headlight out of a G6. A couple of times, I was tempted to put everything back together and start making calls to find someone else to do it. But I kept thinking, “If she can fix the cooling system, I can change this headlight.” In the end, I even got my poor mother involved (someone had to keep me sane).
After a half hour of struggling and praying, trying to get the headlight out, I did the only other thing I could do in such a moment—I YouTubed it. Thanks to a video touting some rather redneck methods, I had things figured out in about a minute and a half, and we had the headlight out five minutes later. When that light was fixed, I moved on to the brake light in the trunk lid of my own car. This involved crawling into the trunk to get the leverage needed to remove the entire assembly, which had broken at some point in its near twenty-year lifespan. It also involved an extra trip to the part store and, of course, tape (Not duct tape, but you get the idea). From there I moved on to the air filter, to lubricating one of the doors, and then I just tinkered.
I enjoyed myself thoroughly. Yes, there were moments of frustration. Yes, I fought tears when I went looking for a socket wrench and found a pair of Dad’s suspenders instead. But it was worth it all. It was worth the memory of days spent with my dad in a friend’s garage. It was worth the satisfaction of a new skill learned and a job done right. It was worth knowing I had done the right thing for my mom’s sake.
If you were to ask me if I would have tried this without my friend’s show of courage and determination, I probably would say yes. But I wouldn’t have done it with as much determination. I would have doubted myself even more than I did. I wouldn’t have had that little voice inside of me saying, “Don’t quit. Be courageous. If she can do it, so can you.”
And that’s the point. You may never know what effect your choice to do the right thing will have on those around you, but be sure of this—Courage begets courage. Keep doing the right thing, and eventually someone will see what you’re doing and say, “Hey, I can do that too.”
Maybe you feel you don’t have any courage, and you don’t know how to build it into your life. Get around some courageous people. Find people who are intentional about doing the right thing and learn from their example. Eventually, probably without you even realizing it’s happened, you’ll find yourself doing the things you thought you could never do. Not because you had some sudden overnight change, but because it rubs off—Courage begets courage.
Has someone in your life made courageous choices that have pushed you on to do something you thought you couldn’t do? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!
One morning last week, as I stepped out onto my front steps, I noticed the buds on my peony bush were just about to burst open.
“Oh, you’ll be open by the time I get home!” I said to them as I walked by. “You can do it!” I was still smiling at them as I dumped my armload of stuff into the car and headed off to work.
That peony bush is special. I planted it four summers ago. The first year, it barely survived one of the hottest, driest, smokiest summers we have had in our area for a very long time. The next summer it grew, got stronger and looked nice, but it didn’t bud. That winter we had a record snowfall—over 100” for the season. I wondered if it would survive, and was so excited to see it pushing its way up through the soil in the spring. By Easter Sunday, it had a beautiful, perfectly round bud beginning to form.
That Sunday, my dad walked up the front steps and noticed the bud. “Look,” he said in his excited voice, “it’s finally going to bloom! That’s great! I can’t wait to see it.”
Four days later, Dad had gone to heaven.
Barely two weeks had passed when a terrible storm swept through our valley and ripped off that perfect bud before it could bloom. My heart was crushed. That tiny bit of destruction was more grievous to me than the thousands of dollars worth of damage we had to deal with at our church. There was insurance and a hardware store to deal with that—but nothing would bring that bud back. The blossom Dad never got to see, would never be seen.
Throughout that day last week, I thought about the peonies about to burst into bloom, wondering how they would look when I got home. In the afternoon, I spoke with someone who told me over and over she needed to be sure she got her car in the garage when she got home because “they’re calling for severe hail.” After last summer, when we hear those words, most of us think of baseball sized craters in vinyl siding, pulverized roofs, and golf ball textured vehicles. I, on the other hand, think of peonies.
All the way home, as I watched lightning flash from sky to earth, I was thinking of those peonies. Finally, my heart cried out, “Lord, please protect my peonies!” But to my surprise that still, sweet voice whispered back, “Why don’t you protect them?”
I was stunned, but then realization struck—that is the essence of chivalry. One of the primary tenants of the knight’s code of chivalry was protection of the weak. Not finding someone else to do it, not going to their master and asking him to find someone to do it, but actually stepping up and protecting those who could not protect themselves. That thought made me wonder about something: How often, when faced with a need, do we say, “God, please protect this person,” or “Lord, please help them”? When, in reality, God wants to do the helping and protecting through us. (It reminds me of Hudson Taylor’s last coin—but that’s a story for another day.)
This was the sight that met my eyes when I got home. I carefully covered it, so that the bush would not be damaged. It never hailed, and eventually I took the cover off so the roots could get some of that luscious spring rain.
The bush is now in full bloom.
* * *
Have you seen someone step up to protect someone or something recently? What, or whom, has God given you to protect? Here’s a little exercise: As you go about your day, be watching for the protective actions of others; a simple need you can meet; or a simple action you can take to protect someone or something. Share about it in the comments below!
I have been working on a different post for about a week and a half and should probably be posting it tonight, but something else is on my mind. This will be short and sweet because it’s late and morning comes very early, but I think it’s worth addressing even if just a little for now. Here’s the thing, no matter how much we want to be relevant in the lives of others, no matter how much we want to behave ourselves in a chivalrous manner, sometimes—
We just don’t feel courageous.
And that lack of feeling courage brings the complete opposite feeling: dis-courage-ment. I know because I’ve been there. I was there tonight. So, what do you do when you don’t feel courageous? Well, first of all remember that courage isn’t necessarily a feeling, at least, not the one you expect it to be. Courage is more about knowing what you’re going to do is right than about knowing you can do it.
It’s also important to learn to recognize the source of discouragement. We’ll get into this a lot deeper in some later blogs, but tonight I want to mention one: Fatigue. I would call it Battle Fatigue, but that has other connotations. Still, the truth of the matter is that when our courage is tested for a drawn out period of time, it can be exhausting. Even the best soldiers, the most well-trained and athletically fit warriors, even they need rest.
One of the most encouraging moments of the Old Testament, in my mind, comes from the story of Gideon. Gideon and his tiny army were in hot pursuit of the enemy kings. They had been going and going and going without food or water to bolster their energy, let alone rest. In Judges chapter eight, it says that they crossed the Jordan River and were “faint, yet pursuing them.” To me this is an amazing picture of their courage and commitment, but it is also a picture of their humanity. There was nothing super-human about them. The battle and the ensuing pursuit had exhausted them.
Tonight, after a long, stressful day at work, I came home, ate supper, and then sat down to work on something that needed to be done for someone else by tomorrow. It took me all evening, and by the time I was done, I wasn’t sure I was even thinking straight. Then, I lost something. I had just had it my hand a moment before, and it was suddenly gone. (Don’t tell my you’ve never done that. I know you have.) I started getting frantic. I couldn’t lose it. I had to have it to finish things. Then I started to feel that I-can’t-do-this feeling creep into my heart. All of the battles that have been raging seemed to tower over me, even though I was facing none of them in that moment. I wanted to quit. I wanted to walk away from them all because I was sure I was going to mess them all up, just like this thing I was working on. Then suddenly, I caught a glimpse of where I was. This was not a moment of failure. This was not a moment that proved I had no courage. This was a moment of exhaustion. I set everything aside, even though I hadn’t found what I was looking for, put things away, and went to make one last cup of tea for the evening. That thing which was lost, will most likely be found very quickly when I have had the time to rest my mind, body, and emotions. The time had simply come to step out of the battle.
Sometimes, we just have to keep going, but sometimes we need to rest; and sometimes, or maybe always, we need a little of both. Even when Gideon’s army was tired they went on, but I don’t think they went in their own strength. I believe it was God who gave them the strength to pursue and overtake their enemies. What an en-courage-ment it is to know that we have that same source of strength. Two verses of Scripture come to my mind as I consider this, both are favorites. In Psalm 29:11, God promises to give His people both strength and peace. In Isaiah 40:31, He promises to renew the strength of those that wait upon Him. Sometimes, in the midst of our many battles when we don’t feel so courageous, we just need to rest, to wait on Him to give us the strength for the next fight, and to let Him bathe us in His peace.
Rest well, friends, and rest in the Lord.
Courage, Chivalry and the Relevant Life
What if someone walked up to you and told you they were going to give you a chance to change the world? What if the only qualification for the opportunity was a test proving your
And passion to live a
Shouldn’t be too hard, right? But what if the test wasn’t on a piece of paper? What if it was in an open field, atop a steed, with a shield in one hand, a sword in the other hand, and a fully trained knight charging you from the opposite direction with lance leveled at your chest?
Would you accept the challenge?
What if the lives of your entire family depended on it?
As a culture, we love stories about courage and chivalry. We love to see the underdog step up to the plate, face the looming foe, and come out victorious because they dared to do what seemed impossible. We love a story in which someone comes to the rescue in the moment of absolute distress. We love stories of dedication, of commitment, and of bravery; but sometimes I wonder:
Do we love the stories because we’re afraid, maybe even convinced, that we can’t live courageously ourselves?
We find inspiration in those stories; we find hope. For the few moments required to take the DVD out of the player, pop it back into its case, and stick it up on its shelf, we feel we could be that person—and then we flip the lights out, go to bed, and forget we ever dreamed of courageous living. Because, in our minds, that could never really be us.
So here’s the question: Are chivalry and courage just unrealistic, impractical ideals or do they really matter?
Jane hurried across the busy parking lot, through the fragrance of a thousand flowers and into the humid shop of her neighborhood nursery. An anxious glance about the bright room told her no one was around. She’d been to this place a dozen times, maybe more, but today was more than just a casual shopping trip. Today it seemed life depended on the next few minutes.
A year ago, Jane had felt like someone, not someone important, but someone just the same. Now that was gone. For months, she’d struggled with feelings of failure and worthlessness. Every aspect of life had changed. It seemed nearly everything that identified her had been stripped away. Sorrow had led to sorrow. Grief had led to more grief. Now, she dared to hope that in this place she might find a ray of hope.
A small, bright-eyed woman came in from the greenhouse and stepped behind the counter. She smiled at Jane. “Can I help you?”
Jane stepped up to the counter, producing a set of papers, and a nervous smile. “I saw on your sign that you are hiring. I called a few minutes ago and someone told me to try to be down here before five. I didn’t think I’d make it, but here I am.”
“Oh, that’s wonderful.”
A man strode in from another arm of the greenhouse. He sauntered up to the two women, his face emotionless.
“This is the gal who called a few minutes ago,” said the woman behind the counter, “She’s looking for work.”
“Oh, great!” The man extended a hand to Jane. “What made you contact us?”
Jane shook his hand and smiled. “Your sign,” she said. “I have an interview coming up for a permanent job, but I didn’t know that until I was on my way here. It’s been a rough year. I know you’re only open a few months out of the year, but I thought maybe I would be able to work here until something more permanent opens up.”
She slid the set of papers across the counter. “I brought my resume, but most of what’s on it won’t really apply to this job. I love working with flowers. I spent four hours on Monday in my own flowerbed. I’m a hard worker.” She stopped, the nervousness returning.
The man took up the resume and glanced over it. “Our staff works six hours a day, six days a week. The pay is $9 an hour. Would you be able to do that?”
“I think so. Are the days set or is there some kind of rotation?”
“The days are set unless you’re a floater,” the bright-eyed woman put in, “but we already have a floater.”
Jane nodded her understanding. She glanced toward the greenhouse. The work would be more physical than what she was accustomed to, but she’d get used to it. And it would help even if just a little.
“You can start tomorrow.” The man said flatly.
Jane stared. “Really?” she finally managed.
“Yes. If you’re available.”
Gratitude swelled in Jane’s chest. They knew nothing about her. They hadn’t even read her resume, let alone checked her references. She stammered something incoherent, even to herself. Then she smiled. “Thank you.”
They talked for a few minutes more, deciding they would wait to start until after the interview, then Jane began the short drive home, still stunned. That morning she had stood on her front porch and looked at her flowerbed and said, “Lord, it’s all cleaned out, but I don’t know if there will be anything in it? Please provide flowers this summer?” Was it possible that instead of filling her flowerbed, he’d just given her an entire greenhouse full of flowers?
A week later, Jane arrived at the greenhouse for her first day of work. Nothing had come of the interview with the more permanent position, but that was okay. At least she had something to tide her over until a better position came along. The work was pleasant. Each day brought something new and yet something not completely foreign to the woman. She’d have to get used to dragging hoses around the tables of flowers. That obviously wasn’t an area in which she excelled in grace and agility. She was glad for moments alone, picking dead leaves off of plants, rearranging plants in their trays so they’d have enough room to grow, watering the lobelia that so quickly dried out. In those alone moments, she often donned her headphones and listened to the quiet, encouraging tones of music that centered her heart back on Christ. Sometimes she even sang along. This place was healing her. She could feel it.
She began to take note of her fellow employees. The little they told her of their lives began to paint a picture. Each had come from a background of struggles. Each had heartache and pain in their eyes. Each was so grateful for this place of safety and peace.
Jane had barely worked a week when she got a call for another interview. This one worked into an immediate temp-to-hire position. The thought of leaving the greenhouse stirred emotion in her heart that she hadn’t expected. As she bid her goodbyes to the bright-eyed woman, Jane felt a lump rising in her throat.
“The last year has been horrible,” she said, “but this week has been wonderful. Thank you.”
The other woman hugged her and then hurried away, wiping the tears from her own eyes.
As Jane walked home from the nursery one last time, she thought again about the hope that had risen within her heart over those few days among the flowers. For the first time in months, she felt a small worm of confidence returning to her heart. She’d always thought of that greenhouse as just an unusual fixture in her otherwise normal neighborhood. She’d been glad it was there, but now she saw it was much more than it appeared to be. It was a place of new beginnings. A place where fresh starts and stepping-stones were offered on a daily basis. It was a place where two people chose on a regular basis to be courageous, to act chivalrously, and to be relevant in a handful of lives—And to each of those lives it mattered.
I’ve heard that chivalry is dead, but it can’t be. We can’t allow it to die. Because when chivalry dies the weakest among us suffer. When chivalry dies, a great deal of good dies with it.
Several years ago, God put in my heart the importance of living a relevant life. Over the last year, I have seen a new side of it: Relevance requires both courage and chivalry. The three go hand in hand; but they don’t always go charging across a field in a battle—sometimes they simply press a much needed flower into a maiden’s hand. It is possible to change the world, not just for well trained knights in shining armor but for you and me.
This blog is an exploration—an adventure—to discover the intricacies of courage, chivalry, and relevance; and, for those who dare, it is a challenge to live what we discover. Here, I hope to share with you not just ideas and ramblings but also real life examples and simple steps of of action through stories, essays, inspirational fiction, and much more.
This journey will most likely be a winding path. Only God knows to what destinations it will lead us. It will be worth the shadows, the curves, and the unknown, of that I am sure. I hope you’ll join me in seeking out what it is to live a courageous, chivalrous, relevant life.
“Be of good courage, and let us behave ourselves valiantly for our people, and for the cities of our God: and let the LORD do that which is right in his eyes.” – 1 Chronicles 19:13