Secret Heroes – Do You Have One in Your Life?

Secret Heroes – Do You Have One in Your Life?

By: Susan Deborah Schiller

Loaded down with nearly all my worldly goods, including the rocking chair my mother cuddled me to sleep in as a baby, an old iron bell that she used to call us children home for dinner with, and heaps of boxes, my Dodge pickup was chugging along kind of slowly, with transmission ailments until I hit Bridger, Montana at about 9:30 pm on a Friday night. The road was torn up down to the dirt for several miles and recent rains had chiseled deep ruts and excavated gaping chuck holes almost large enough to consume a small vehicle.

Somewhere along that spine-crunching road my starter dropped out the bottom of my truck. Towns are few and far between in the desert so after pumping my tank full of diesel in Bridger it was a little scary to hear nothing but silence when turning my key in the ignition. I had only turned the key about three times when a man who had just pulled into the pump behind me appeared at my driver window. To my surprise, he announced he was a mechanic.

I jumped out and allowed him to scoot behind the wheel. Sure enough, it wouldn't start for him either. He hopped out and disappeared behind the trunk of his car, reappearing with a big hunk of metal. A surreal peace blanketed me despite the fact that this stranger was waving a heavy metal object and shouting out that he was going to "shock" my truck's whatever-needing-shocking under the motor.

I watched his body half-disappear under the truck and shortly afterward my ears rang with loud metallic clangs. My hero soon scrambled up off the ground and announced my starter was missing and that he had just left the local bar where the owner of a parts store and he had been socializing. Announcing he would go grab the owner and check to see if a starter was in stock he jumped into his car and rushed off.

In the meantime one old rancher after another appeared at my driver window and each one wanted to have a go at rousing Old Betsy themselves. Realizing they needed to feel they were of use, I gladly turned my keys over even though I knew it was a lost cause. With wide Western smiles the friendly farmers apologized for the inconvenience of being stranded on a Friday night and I could sense they were genuinely sorry they could not help.

While the first mechanic scouted around for a starter, dashing across town three times in his pursuit of the part, another mechanic pulled into the gas station. He was a young father with his wife and children in the car and they were all dressed up Western style, having just come out of the Future Farmer's of America banquet. Seeing my hood popped open, he strolled over to see if he could help.

He climbed up on top of the motor and looked deep into the intricacies of what appeared to me endless thingamajigs and surfaced a couple minutes later with the same diagnosis as the first mechanic. He told me it would be a two-man operation and that they would need to "arc" something or other and it would be a tricky deal. He couldn't guarantee my truck would start and warned me no parts stores would be open until Monday. Glancing up and down the tiny little town I saw no motel in sight but still felt no panic, only a deep peace that all would be well.

Just then the first mechanic returned, empty-handed, to the scene. By then a small crowd of fans encircled my truck, each one offering advice and sympathy. The two mechanics worked congenially together and within 15-minutes Old Betsy gave a roar, her Cummins engine turning powerfully, to everyone's relief.

I pulled money out of my purse to reward my heroes but they crossed their arms, hugging their wide chests, and exclaimed, "We would never take money from a woman stranded on the road!" So I pushed the bills into their hands anyway and told them to give it to their wives and they accepted my thanks with wide grins.

Pulling out of Bridger, Montana I continued on down the skeleton road. It seemed a little darker than usual but inside my heart I was grateful for the light and love a small town had shown a stranger stranded on their disabled road. It was so dark, in fact, that I missed my turn into Wyoming and everything began to suddenly look very strange. Pretty soon flashing lights appeared in my rear view mirror and for the second time in my 50-years of life I was pulled over by a local police officer.

The night was extra dark, it turned out, because one of my headlights was out and there are no lights in that rural desert except stars! The officer didn't even ask me for my license or registration but instead in a fatherly voice he provided directions to get me back on track to my destination.

This new season of life has been about trust… and that blanket of peace has covered me every time I allow God to show me He's got my life in His hands and I am safe. The tests, it turned out, were to continue, though…

I had to make a separate trip to Montana for another load.This time I only made it 40 miles before I realized Old Betsy was too sick to travel. In between Thermopolis and Meteetse, Wyoming there is almost nothing but desert and mountains so I pulled over in a wide spot of the road where my cell phone had a little bit of a signal.

While I was on the phone a police car pulled up beside me and an officer got out. Asking me if I was just stopped to have a phone call, I replied that my truck's transmission was slipping badly. He pointed to Cody one-hour ahead and Thermopolis one-half hour behind me and said I had better find a mechanic right away.

Turning back, Old Betsy and I slowly made our way to the motel I had just recently checked into. It had become the worst day of my life, not because of the truck problems, but because when I called for help, my husband took that moment to announce he wanted a divorce… not the best timing… and my blanket of peace was being stretched! He had already moved to Chicago and I was in the middle of moving to be closer to my daughter, so it shouldn't have been a great shock, but yet there it was… my breathing was ragged and it felt like a grenade had gone off somewhere between my neck and navel, leaving a gaping black hole.

Arriving back in my motel room in a town I barely knew at the time, I had no strength to try and find a mechanic. The news I had just heard over the phone was trying to suck me down into a dark hole and it was about all I could do to unload my suitcases.

Within five minutes someone was knocking at my door. It was the owner of the motel and he wanted to know why I had returned so quickly after telling the staff I would be gone for a few days. I opened my mouth to reply but no words came out. My heart had been broken much worse than my truck. So I pointed and used hand signals and he got the picture.

In less than ten minutes the busy motel owner, named Ron, had brought not only a mechanic at my door, but an expert diesel mechanic. They took my truck and not only repaired the transmission but closely examined the truck to see if anything else might be amiss.

It turns out, someone had over-filled the transmission fluid by almost three quarts, which should have been enough to kill the transmission. There were only a few remaining drops of brake fluid, the master cylinder and booster needed replacing, and someone had mysteriously tied up perfectly good brake cables, removed them, and tied them up to an axle so that they were useless.

In the midst of discovering all these troubles, it became apparent God arranged for each one to be exposed in time before they could hurt me. These strangers noticed that my heart needed as much help as my truck, so they began joking and acting goofy-stupid to get me to laugh. And from that day forward they committed themselves to drag me out of my motel room and make me laugh at least several times a day while all the while each problem on my truck was expertly repaired.

Through this two-month process of leaving everything that had been my comfort zone I learned that God has a gift of peace that passes all understanding that guards our hearts and minds when we trust Him. It's a gift He freely gives to all of us! This blanket of peace continues to cover me, even when the unexpected "suddenlies" arrive and it seems there is no such thing as any comfort zone anywhere!

Sometimes we don't understand these "suddenlies" but later we come to realize how much we have grown and learned. Ron, one day invited to me to fly. He's the pilot of a small Cessna… which immediately reminded me of my dad when I was a little girl. My dad was a pilot and I used to fly with him all the time (story here). He died when I was 17-years old so it's been a very long time since I heard the words, "Do want to go to the airport – let's fly!"

Along with a few flight lessons to jog my memory, Ron began teaching me all that he learned on the mission field in Thailand, China, and the Philippines. His most important lesson, he told me, was to always be childlike… what he called "goofy-stupid". When people love each other unconditionally they become like kids, he explained… and kids don't care about appearances – they just have fun! I discovered that he was a 'dad' to over 200 young people abroad and he made me feel included in that number, at least for a short time!

Pretty soon it was time for me to leave the motel and I had no place, yet, to call home. On that very same day I met another of God's secret heroes. An ordinary 76-year old woman who had recently lost her husband. She invited me to stay with her…. a gorgeous place on the Big Horn River with a private hot mineral springs pool. A few hours later an eighty-year old neighbor pulled in with a tow truck and and it was hauling a Winnebago camper. He looks at my hostess and says, "How long have you known this woman?" She replied, "About 7 hours." He answered, "Well, that's good enough for me, I guess." And he gave me his camper to use for the summer… a total surprise!

My hostess' name was Lois… and she wouldn't let me hide out in my little cave either. No such thing as "comfort zone" anymore. Every time she saw me she waved me into her little kitchen where coffee was always brewing and ice cream was served daily along with generous doses of humor and childlike games!

What is it with these secret heroes… not only do they gladly lay down their lives, love unconditionally, but they have this "goofy-stupid" way about them… they are literally childlike! They don't worry, fuss, or fear anything. Nothing seems impossible to them and you can't help but let go of your guard and open your heart to these people. You learn to love again.

How can you not trust a God like this… a loving Father who knows your needs before you are aware of them. Who sends people to cross your path… people who I call "Secret Heroes".

Heroes come in all different shapes and sizes… but what they all share in common is that they look like you and me… just ordinary people with an extraordinary love.

The secret heroes we meet every day are ordinary people like you and me… childlike warriors who have become the change they wish to see in the world. I began meeting these heroes when I asked God to change me… to show me how to love like He does… and to connect with the ones who are living this love. My lessons are still ongoing and this adventure is still unfolding.

I write these stories because I want to paint a picture of my soul for my children and grandchildren, a living family legacy… my life is lived in brokenness… my ideals often clash with reality… and I'm no stranger to pain… but if I lay it all down for Love, and if I learn from these heroes what love really is and become one of them, then the world changes for me… my reality changes… and together we can rewrite our future!

Have you been through some intense, challenging years? I'd love to hear your story. As we share stories, hearts are healed and darkness is exposed… please leave me a comment in the box below!

My Full Story     What I Believe    Contact Me

With all my love,

Sue

Susan Schiller knows how it feels to lose everything: marriage and family, church and reputation, finances and businesses, and more. Susan's upcoming, interactive memoir, "On the Way Home," tells the story of how she came to be known as "the most abused woman" her counselors had yet met and how she learned to navigate to freedom and fullness.  
 
Today Susan helps people write their life stories, unearthing the treasures of their past and sowing them into their future, creating new family legacies.
 

Copyright © 2014 Team Family Online, All rights reserved.   For reprint permission or for any private or commercial use, in any form of media, please contact Susan Schiller

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Victoria May 19, 2015 at 7:22 pm

Hard day, recovering from a religious sociopath brutal discard & betrayal on heels of major family betrayals… shattered. I am so thankful for the Lord leading me to you and your website, Susan as I am facing painful truth… again.  Thanks for having the courage to write your story… may I ask about your DVD details as well?  The sign up for your book apparently does not connect anymore? Thanks

Reply

Susan Schiller May 19, 2015 at 9:15 pm

Hi Victoria,

It’s more common than many of us realize, but I’m sorry you have been through so much trauma. The shattering is excriciating. 

Yes, I had to discontinue the old link, as it was getting to expensive, but you’re welcome to sign up on my email list and you’ll receive new of when my book is on the market. Thank you for coming by!

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Anonymous June 18, 2014 at 2:01 am

I read this again, grasping the fact that ONE person was trying to cause your literal death and it pisses me off.  It turns out, someone had over-filled the transmission fluid by almost three quarts, which should have been enough to kill the transmission. There were only a few remaining drops of brake fluid, the master cylinder and booster needed replacing, and someone had mysteriously tied up perfectly good brake cables, removed them, and tied them up to an axle so that they were useless. Then I read your update again. My husband, an expert mechanic, had taken our good vehicle, a 1-ton 2009 Dodge and had assured me the '91 Dodge pickup was in good traveling condition. Nevertheless, it broke down several times. When I pulled to the side of the road, the first time, I dialed his cell phone and got this reply to my question about the ailing transmission: "I want a divorce." I can do simple math.  I have six kids and even learning common core math, I can figure out this problem.  I have one word that comes to mind for this man… ASSHOLE!  I'm so tired of these men who think they can get away with murder.  What was he ministering? an unhealthy dose of evil to others.  God forbid that no one calls a snake a snake.

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Susan Schiller June 18, 2014 at 9:49 am

Why are we so hesitant to call snakes “snakes”? John the Baptist did, Jesus did…. 

It troubles my heart that I still tend to passively accept the common law of church relationships: tolerance and the message of false grace.

My two years in the desert was like visiting hell – but it opened my eyes and for the first time I’m beginning to see.

The religious spirit is the worst manifestation of evil there is. Thank you for speaking up in my defense – there is a part of me, lying dead – forgotten and left behind – in that desert, still… thank you!

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M June 17, 2014 at 3:32 am

Sue, You are my hero, without doubt!  One day, God will show you how many you have been a secret hero to.  Until then, you faithfully continue to love beyond measure and I am blessed to know you and love you in return.  Sister love.. xxoo

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Susan Schiller June 17, 2014 at 6:15 am

Thanks, M – when all the heroes comes together and fight as One, in Christ, we shall see justice and mercy working together on earth. I hope to see that day and be part of it, as I know you do, too 🙂

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Susan McKenzie April 21, 2012 at 3:16 am

An update … it's almost a year past the events of this story. I was vague about the circumstances of this "life event" but it's actually important to put it into context.

My husband had gone to live in another state, in order to minister, he told me. My daughter had written me an email saying she wished I could live closer to her, so I packed my bags and rented a hotel room for for a couple of months to pray, look, and see what God had for our family.

My husband, an expert mechanic, had taken our good vehicle, a 1-ton 2009 Dodge and had assured me the '91 Dodge pickup was in good traveling condition. Nevertheless, it broke down several times. When I pulled to the side of the road, the first time, I dialed his cell phone and got this reply to my question about the ailing transmission: "I want a divorce."

It shouldn’t have shocked me like it did, but still it hit suddenly, like a shock wave, reverberating through my whole body. Even though he had been gone, off and on, for weeks at a time, I still believed in "us"… or at least enough that he would care the truck had broken down in the middle of nowhere.

That shock turned out only to be the first of many more shakings and shiftings. By the time I had reached my motel room it felt like my gut had been torn open from just below the neck to my navel, and it left me literally breathless.

I've heard of "shock" when physical trauma occurs… but I didn't know anything about emotional shock, even with all Randy and I had been through in dealing with his spinal cord injury and subsequent years of recovery.

I could barely talk… could barely breathe…

So when God began sending strangers to me – who didn't know anything about me, yet just started taking care of my needs, it was the beginning of a new journey in faith.

I have not written much since then… because that adventure was to be a year-long journey that was one continuous lesson that God meets us in our darkest hours…. His Light shines brightest in those darkest hours!

A couple months later, divorce papers arrived in the mail, followed up by a phone call from Randy, saying that if I signed them right away without getting an attorney that we could be friends. I signed them in the post office and returned them…

A couple months after that Randy had wife #5….

I have been silent because there was so much I didn't understand, didn't see or expect, didn't plan… and I don't want to point any fingers at anybody.

But I feel the story needs to be put in context, because it's through our transparency and vulnerability that lives can be saved… just like God sent the "heroes" of this story to help me in my time of utter desolation.

But it didn't stop with these heroes…. the whole following 12-months were encounters with heroes of all shapes and sizes, that I cannot help but smile…..

God doesn't usually choose the people we would expect to give us wisdom and advice! Frequently he chooses the ones who are the most foolish-looking and sounding… the least expected ones! At least, that is how He works with me 🙂

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Victoria Gazeley June 22, 2011 at 11:25 am

I'm so happy you're back writing!  Like Denny (and many others, I'm sure), I've missed your stories.  And this one was a doozy… :o)  What a brilliant example of trust… love it!  Welcome back…

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Susan McKenzie June 27, 2011 at 10:01 am

Thank you, Victoria…. you are always a blessing to me and an amazing encourager / inspiration!

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Sue June 14, 2011 at 9:31 pm

Once again, Susan, you have touched my soul with your genuine love for others.  YOU are a hero to me and I can't wait to keep reading more of your journey.  Blessings & Hugs to you!

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Susan McKenzie June 15, 2011 at 6:12 am

Sue, thank you for touching my heart this morning! You know, I watched the movie “Patch Adams” a couple nights ago and it reminded me that we are all “patients and doctors” both… we are designed to be each other’s heroes… love is the greatest force in the world 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing!

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Sang-dae Suh June 14, 2011 at 11:59 am

Shall I compare this story to Shakespeare's sonnet NO 13?
This is more beauteous than that.
Because it hails directly from my dear friend Susan's vivid memory gorgeously adorned with her
amazing talent.
Because it is based on her truthful love of God and humanity.
Thank God for my encounter with her talent!!!!
 
 

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Susan McKenzie June 15, 2011 at 6:15 am

Oh dear, Sang-dae… I’m not sure about all the superlatives but I appreciate your encouragement – thank you for reading! I look forward to reading your writing soon and enjoy hearing parts of your life story 🙂

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Susan McKenzie June 13, 2011 at 6:40 pm

Thank you, dear friends…. and Denny, let's do meet up one day… you are a kindred spirit!

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Karen Brooks June 13, 2011 at 4:15 pm

All is can saw is WOW on this story. I found myself weeping and knowing that we all have been in places like this in our lives. Trust God to bring you through.

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denny hagel June 13, 2011 at 1:20 pm

Susan, I have missed you! I often wonder if you love to write as much as I love to read what you write…you are an amazing talent, a sister to all and an earth angel that sprinkles such blessings to all who are fortunate to know you. Meeting you one day in person is on my bucket list of life time goals. You are loved and appreciated more than you know my friend. ((Hugs)):)

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