A couple of weeks ago, a group of firefighters answered a call to rescue a little family from an elevator. Firefighters are pretty much always my heroes anyway … I mean, who else would sign up to run into a burning building to save complete strangers, except someone heroic? Still, these kinda went above and beyond to, not only rescue, but keep calm a little four-year-old girl by singing “Let it Go” from Disney’s “Frozen”. Not sure why this story made me misty eyed, but it kinda did.
Do ya’ll remember that question in your class at school … your third grade teacher or whoever would ask, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Answers used to be awesome. “Firefighter, policeman, mommy, ballerina …” now, and this is just from kids I’ve personally asked, more and more it’s “famous, in a band, an actress like so and so, Taylor Swift.” Hm … our kids seem to be missing several crucial points. (Not that there’s anything wrong with being famous, or being Taylor Swift for that matter, but I think they could aim higher.) What our kids are reaching for are professions that they look up to, idolize. People who they perceive as heroes. Nothing wrong with that. Mostly.
The term hero is badly misused I think. Our kids use it to describe how they feel about anyone, from Hollywood actors to the X-men. In my opinion, heroes are rarely famous. Sometimes celebrities use their fame for good, certainly, and of course, some people are simply too heroic to ignore. Mother Teresa didn’t seek limelight, but she was one of the greatest women of our time, and her selflessness threw her into the public eye. I hope my daughters try to emulate her one day instead of some silly teen idol. My personal favorite definition of hero comes from the wonderfully hilarious Dwight Schrutt, from “The Office”, who, after spraying Pam’s ex-boyfriend with pepper spray to keep him from beating up Jim, states, “I am not a hero. You know who’s a real hero? Hiro … from ‘Heroes’.” Thank you Dwight, just for being you.
(This isn’t the exact clip, but it’s still pretty awesome!)
So, seriously though, I thought it would be fun to talk about some everyday heroes. Things real people do right now, tomorrow, when the situation arises, whether they are ever famous or not. So, here goes. Some of my personal heroes.
I have a former student named Katy Lauderdale. Katy attends UT now and has turned into a really fabulous young lady. The other day, she found someone’s debit card on the sidewalk and picked it up. When she got home she looked up the owner’s name in their directory, got ahold of her and set up a place to meet so she could return it. When Katy arrived, the other girl had tears in her eyes. She confessed to Katy that it had been a really hard semester, and that her faith in the goodness of humanity was almost gone … until she got a call from Katy. Katy hugged her and told her that she was going to be okay.
How great is that? How broke were you in college? That’ll tell you how great it is! If you never went to collegeor did, but you had money, allow me to explain. Picture standing in a Walmart and trying to decide between buying shampoo, or toothpaste that week, because you can only afford one or the other. So, you think, I guess I can just put corn starch in my hair this week … and brush my teeth with water, because on a second glance at your bank account, you’ll actually be overdrawn with buying your weekly Ramen Noodles and can’t afford either. That should give you a vague idea of college kid brokeness … or at least how broke I was!
M’kay, in case that one didn’t do it for you, here’s another fantastic tale of heroics. Last year a friend of mine named Devin Dickinson collapsed. He’s a normal healthy 30-year-old with very little medical trouble, so this is obviously hugely alarming. They got him to the hospital and many days and tests later (Devin, correct me if my timeline’s off, buddy!) he was diagnosed with Guillian-Barr Syndrome. If you don’t know what that is, it attacks the peripheral nervous system the way Multiple Sclerosis attacks the central nervous system. So anyway, Devin is making huge leaps in his comeback, but it is a long slow process. To celebrate how far he had come in his recovery, at his year anniversary of being diagnosed Devin’s entire family went to Disney World.
They were greeted at the door with buttons that said, “I’m Celebrating!” After which, they were escorted to the front of every line, brought in to rides by separate entrances and treated like royalty for their entire visit. Brilliant! Another reason I love Disney! Sorry if you’re not a fan … actually, I’m just sorry FOR you! You’re missing out on a lot of wonderful. (Of course “wonderful” is a noun. I was an English teacher … I can make up nouns if I want to.) There are two stories of awesomeness in this account, of course. The Dickinson’s entire family, especially Devin, and the people who work at Disney World.
My last set of heroes are my favorites because they are heroic every single minute of their day and for the rest of their lives. Foster parents and people who adopt. I know a few couples who are brave enough to do this and, in my mind, they are real life superstars. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Brian and Jasmine Jamar, are now the proud parents of not just one, but three little boys. All brothers from the worst background you could possibly think up. They are now our official nephews and three of the most wonderful kids in my life.
Imagine the kind of courage it takes to not only Foster three kids who were three, four and five-years-old when they first got them, but to start out parenting with three children who have no connection to you whatsoever. There is no logical reason for Foster parents who adopt to bring a perfect stranger’s children into their home and treat them with kindness, dignity and respect (something which these boys had never received before). If you think the money’s good, you’re completely out of your mind, and after you adopt, there’s no money at all. No one in their right mind would do this. Thankfully, there is a force for which there is no explanation embedded in these people’s souls. Love. Nothing in the world is as weird or wonderful as that. And nothing is as wonderful as witnessing the effects of love on a previously unloved child. If you had met those three before, and then you met them again now, you wouldn’t even recognize them.
I could write an entire book about these kinds of people, but I’ll just include one more family and leave you to your happy and heroic thoughts. My friends Andrea and Justin Chambers have been Foster parents for years. I don’t have all the details of the heartbreaks they have endured in that timeframe, but I can tell you every time they weren’t granted a child that they had Fostered their hearts were shattered because they just cared so much. Every child that came into their home was treated as if they would stay forever. There are not two more wonderful people on the planet and now, after all these years of giving many children a loving home for a few months or even a couple of years, Andrea and Justin have been able to and are in the process of adopting three precious children, all from different homes and backgrounds.
I don’t think actors are beautiful really, I think Foster parents are. That’s just an opinion of course, but still …
Of course the common denominator of all these heroes is so simple. Just love. Love causes firefighters and policemen to run INTO a situation when all normal people run away from it. And gives them the kindness to sing to a little girl, instead of just telling her to calm down. Love causes strangers to give special attention to a man in a wheelchair and insure that he has a wonderful time at “the happiest place on earth”. Foster parents … no words for that kind of love.
I Corinthians 13 says that if we could speak with the tongues of men and angels and if we could prophecy and understand every mystery in the world and had all knowledge and could move mountains but don’t have love, we have nothing. We ARE nothing. Just think what we can be if we have love. We can be anything. We are heroes just waiting to happen.
Please feel free to comment about your own personal heroes! I would love to know about them!