Mar 21, 2024 188 Molly Farinholt

Lessons from the Tin Heart 

A repeated whisper from above, numerous failed attempts…all solved by a children’s story!

There is a wonderful tale by Hans Christian Andersen entitled The Steadfast Tin Soldier that I have taken immense pleasure in reading aloud to my daughter, and she, in listening to it. This one-legged tin soldier’s brief existence is marked by tribulation after tribulation. From falling from several storeys to nearly drowning to being swallowed by a fish like Jonah, the handicapped fighter comes to understand suffering quite quickly. Through it all, though, he does not hesitate, falter, or flinch. Oh, to be like the tin soldier!

Discovering the Reason

Literalists and pessimists might attribute his steadfastness to the fact that he is made of tin. Those who appreciate metaphor will say it is because he has a deep knowledge of his identity. He is a soldier, and soldiers do not let fear or anything, for that matter, steer them from their course. The trials wash over the tin soldier, but he remains unchanged. At times, he admits that if he were not a soldier, he would do such and such—like shed tears—but those things he did not do, for it would not be in line with who he was. In the end, he is cast into a stove where, reminiscent of Saint Joan of Arc, he is engulfed in flames. His remains are later found by the housemaid, reduced to—or one might say, transformed into—a perfectly shaped tin heart. Yes, the fires that he so resolutely endured molded him into love!

Perhaps, all that is required to become steadfast is to know one’s identity? The question then is, what is our identity? I am, and you are, too, a daughter (or son) of the King of the Universe. If only we know and never cease to claim this identity, we too can be steadfast on the journey toward becoming like Love Himself. If we go about our days knowing that we are princesses and princes gallivanting about our Father’s castle, what would we fear? What would make us quake, turn back, or crumble? No falls or floods or flames could make us step aside from the path toward sainthood that has been so lovingly laid before us. We are beloved children of God, destined to become saints if we only stay the course. The trials will become joys because they will not pull us from our path but, if endured well, will ultimately transform us into that which we long to be! Our hope and joy can always remain, for even if all about us is hardship, we are still beloved, chosen, and made to be with the Father in Heaven for all eternity.

Sorrows into Joy!

When the Angel Gabriel, on his mission to receive Mary’s fiat, sees Mary’s fear, he tells her: “Do not be afraid, for you have found favor with God.” (Luke 1:30) What glorious news! And how glorious that we, too, have found favor with God! He made us, loves us, and desires for us to be with Him always. So, we, like Mary, need not be afraid, no matter what difficulty comes our way. Mary steadfastly accepted all that came her way, knowing that His Providence is perfect and that the salvation of all mankind was at hand. She stood at the foot of the Cross in the moments of her greatest suffering and remained. In the end, though Mary’s heart was pierced by many swords, she was assumed into Heaven and crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth, to be with Love forever. Her steadfastness and loving endurance through suffering paved the way to her Queenship.

Yes, the sorrow of the Pieta became the glory of the Assumption. The martyrdom of so many holy men and women made them a part of the Heavenly host praising the Lord forevermore. Like our Mother and the Saints, may we accept the grace to be steadfast, standing tall amidst sorrow, flames, and all other circumstances that try to divert us from the Lord’s open arms. May we be firmly rooted in our identity as children made in the Father’s image. May we, like the renowned poet Tennyson once wrote: “Be strong in will to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield!” May we, after it all, become like Love.


Molly Farinholt

Molly Farinholt is a wife, mother, homemaker, and writer. She lives with her husband and children in Virginia, where they serve on a mission with the FOCUS ministry.

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