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Tony Rossi

Radio Host/Producer

Living a Braveheart Life

In one sense, Randall Wallace knows what it means to live a Braveheart life. He was, after all, nominated for an Academy Award over 20 years ago as the screenwriter of “Braveheart,” which told the story of William Wallace’s (Mel Gibson) battle and eventual martyrdom for the cause of Scotland’s freedom. The movie’s lessons left Randall asking several questions: What does it mean to live a Braveheart life? Can anyone do it, even those who aren’t on a literal battlefield? Can joy be found through “faithful suffering”?

The answers he found to all his questions were, “Yes.” And he didn’t have to look far for examples. Specifically, Randall saw his father exemplify the five pillars of a Braveheart life: 1) Have a father and be a father, even if you don’t have a biological child, 2) Develop a warrior spirit, 3) Have a teacher and be a teacher, 4) Find a holy man, a priest or sage to offer spiritual guidance, 5) Find your outlaw spirit.

During a “Christopher Closeup” interview about his memoir “Living the Braveheart Life,” Randall explained, “[My father’s] father died before he was born, of typhoid fever. So my father grew up without a direct biological father to teach him what it was like to be a father, and yet he became the greatest of fathers to me. He knew how important a father was because he didn’t have one directly in his life.” Randall also noted that his father became a broken man when he lost his job at age 38: “His wounds...prodded him, shaped him, and taught him how to be a greater warrior. He was also a sacred figure in my life. My father showed me what prayer really meant and what love really meant.”

To this day, Randall’s faith remains a cornerstone of his life, grounded in the fact that “God manifested Himself in the person of Jesus Christ. I don’t know what God is or looks like without Jesus.” He has also come to respect the different roads that people take to grow closer to Jesus: “I grew up Baptist, and Baptists are totally evangelical. We almost never had a religious gathering in which there was not some effort to have conversion. I also want to say that there are times when I go to church with Catholic friends and I love the sacredness of the Mass. I love the sanctity that we experience there and the understanding that everyone comes to God.”

Two of Randall’s college professors, Hilda and Mikhail Pavlov, taught him other important lessons, about joy being a choice, along with an “outcome of faithful suffering.” The Pavlovs survived the siege of Leningrad during World War II and experienced other periods of unimaginable hardship, so Randall was surprised they lived with such vibrance.

One day, he asked Mrs. Pavlov if she had been able to take anything with her when she left Russia. She paused and said, “Three times in my life, I have been somewhere where someone ran into the room where I was sitting and said, ‘If you don’t get up and run that way right now, you’ll die.’ I could take nothing with me. Three times in my life. I have no regrets.”

Randall said, “It caused me to think about what we consider the necessary stuff in our lives – I need this or that to be happy. But she had gone through the crucible of knowing that those things were unnecessary, that what made a life was love.”

 

For a free copy of the Christopher News Note, FINDING THE COURAGE WITHIN, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: mail@christophers.org