As a tradition in our house, I read or make-up a bedtime story to my kids. Tonight, the youngest brought the book, “St. George and the Dragon” retold by Berg Esenwein and Marietta Stockard. In this retelling, St. George, who sees peace and prosperity in the country and the people are all safe and happy.
However, he is concerned that, “Somewhere there is trouble and fear. There may be someplace where little children cannot play in safety, some woman may have been carried away from her home-perhaps there are even dragons left to be slain.” He then says, “Tomorrow I shall ride away and never stop until I find work which only a knight can do.”
In today’s language, we could say George went looking for a fight. But, there’s much more to it.
The difference is St. George felt a need to serve, or fill some kind of gap because of the very things he possessed. Stick with me here, because what I’m driving at, through a one-thousand-year-old tale, is healing through purpose.
People feel aimless, rudderless, and purposeless because certain qualities that they may already possess go untapped. These untapped qualities fester if unused, harming ourselves. Because they remain buried, they can then injure, through neglect and inattention, those around us. These people include spouses, children, friends, our elderly parents, co-workers and others that are reliant upon us to be brave enough to step up.
Though none of us have all the sainted qualities to the degree of Saint George, the Dragon Slayer, we do possess enough to leverage what we have learned from our past mistakes to make a difference. These qualities are trainable skills, not talents. Therefore, they can be developed. You don’t have to be born with them.
But so what, eh? I mean, everybody loves dragons, right? Why bother. But, I bet you have dragons in your life. Oh, yes I do! Addictions? There’s one big dragon. Social Skills, that’s another one. Are you relationally challenged? Forgiveness, shutting your cake-hole when you lose your temper, addressing fears, hiding in your “Comfort Zone.” These “dragons”, though charming sounding labels, have a very negative effect on us becoming whole. Therefore, must be sought out, faced and defeated.
What are these Qualities of a Modern-Day Dragon Slayer?
First of all, St. George is in possession of humility. Humility is a quality of knowing your limits for the betterment of self and others. Though you possess skills, you’re still teachable. How do I see that St. George is humble?
Humility is a quality that seeks to serve. St. George saw that things were well in his country and was concerned for others and how he could help. Upon arrival in a distant land, he finds a young woman who is going to sacrifice herself to appease a dragon that is terrorizing the land. He rescues her and kills the dragon. By self-awareness, St. George has helped others. He didn’t think more of himself, he just knew he could do that much.
Never confuse humility with poor self-worth. People with negative self-worth, may sound humble, but they are operating from a different point of origin, and therefore will get different results. It’s one thing to say, “You are better at sports than I am.” Which may be a true statement, you may have invested time on other pursuits more in your line of interest. It’s a different thing to say, “I suck at sports and I’ll never get good at it.”
The first is an acknowledgement of skill or the lack of it, the second relates specifically to a negative view of self. Personally, I can’t say I am any good at working on a transmission, but that will never impact my worth, it’s related to where I have directed my priorities.
Second, St. George possesses keen observational skills. Most people don’t see, “normal.” I mean, we don’t notice things until something changes or goes wrong. The reasons for this are varied and are deliberate or subconscious. Meaning, you either avoid taking a hard look at something with an intent to understand or you are passively blind, unaware of what goes on about you. Both are re-trainable though require different coaching.
St. George saw the peace in his land and the happiness of his people as a type of notice or indicator that he had served his purpose and, more importantly, there was work to do elsewhere. Leading us to…
Third, St. George sees beyond himself and his own needs. This quality is linked to humility and is a pre-action step to getting things done. When you see what you have, and you don’t have to have it all, or have it perfectly, it is intended of us to help others. Never think that you should have your ducks in a row, (as if duck-rowing is a useful practice) or be completely ready.
You’ll never be completely ready…at anything. But, that’s normal. There are inherent risks in life. Even if you’re not the gambling type, by not taking necessary risks, you risk stagnation, apathy, isolation and missing out on opportunities that you get by stepping out and meeting people.
If you haven’t got the results you wanted by doing what you’re doing, then you’re going to have to do something else. You pick your risks. You must move beyond seeing to your own needs to help others. By the way, if you are one to complain about how the world is going to hell in a handbasket, then get up and join us in making a change.
Fourth, St. George understand his place in the world because of his abilities. St. George said, “I shall ride away and never stop until I find work which only a knight can do.”
This can be broken down into: Action, commitment, purpose!
Action – “I shall ride away,” – action. Not just pray about it, not become indignant and question why someone doesn’t do something about this. It’s a declarative statement. The Art of Doing is harder than it looks because people over-prepare, thinking they are making it “just right.” No you’re scared! It’s one thing to prepare, but it’s something else altogether to over-think to the point of inaction. Eventually, you’re going to have to just jump.
Commitment – “and never stop until,” – commitment. Setting a goal and a timeline. St. George’s use of hyperbole (“never”) sets a goal, describes the man along with his purpose and gives comfort. In other words, he will continue the action until the job is finished. Very few people use hyperbole honestly because they don’t follow through. Words like, “always or never” are the biggest offenders and people should shy away from using them if following through is an issue for them. However, you know when a certain type of person speaks in hyperbole, they add gravitas to the topic and their person.
Purpose – “I find work only a knight can do.” – Purpose. The world awaits people to step up to take their place in the puzzle of humanity. Mark Twain said ““The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” When you find your “Why,” your “How” becomes less important.
There is something out there waiting for you to pick it up and use it. Like a Sword in the Stone that can only be removed by that one soul that will save the land, heal the people, provide the answers. That one person will not be accepted by all people and is yet to return.
Your purpose is as individual as your fingerprints! That’s why others cannot completely tell you what it is, they can only tell you the piece they see. Others will tell you of other pieces. Only you are in possession of all the pieces! When you have gathered them together, then you can begin the, sometimes, arduous process, of piecing it together. You don’t wait until it’s all together to begin, you just know that your time has come!
Aware that their place and time has come, they gladly step into the puzzle of humanity to be a part of the solution.
One of the reasons things are getting so bad is there are fewer people with good social skills that can step up, integrate with others appropriately, join the conversation, and solve societal problems.
Instead, they’re just isolating, flat screening it for the night or playing on social media. There are things that only you can do! Only you! But if you are staying out of the puzzle, there will be somethings that will never be healed because of your absence. And that is neglect.
So, you see, you don’t have to be a sainted knight of old to do the right thing. We need Knights in Tarnished Armor as well to still try and do the right thing with what they have and repeat it over and over.
Be that Knight!