Most people who become true heroes don’t prepare their entire lives to be put into that position. When they are born, the parents don’t look at their precious infant and say, “This little will one day be a true American hero.” It never entered my mind as a young woman that one of my three children could become the object of national pride. I wasn’t thinking that I must prepare him or her for that day. I was concerned about how to best feed this tiny person.
Heroes happen through great acts of valor and strength of character. I’m sure someone has done extensive research regarding how heroes are made. However, we don’t have to read an academic study to marvel at men like Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark, NJ, who raced into a burning building and saved a woman from a fiery death.
In studying the Apostles Paul’s mission adventures in the past months, I’ve been struck by this faith hero’s stamina, faithfulness and willing spirit. Chased from one city, Paul doesn’t tuck in his mantle and pout for a few months. He goes to the next city, while recognizing that his treatment will be the same once he is labeled a “trouble maker” by the Jewish leadership.
As I traveled cross country last month, I was struck by the young men and women I encountered in various airports who are sacrificing years of their lives to help secure our safety. Whether you agree with the wars that are currently being waged or not, we must acknowledge that their valor is humbling. For them there are years of training and preparation. Especially in the Army, you prepare and wait. When you are on the field of battle you understand that your life and the lives of your comrades are at risk. You also understand that you are fighting for the millions of people back home who are eating popsicles and watching TV. Once you are back home, you prepare for the next battle and wait.
While no one deliberately trains their children to become heroes, there are things which will bring that hero spirit to the forefront. Here a four of those things:
1. Training. In the book, The Survivor’s Club, the author Ben Sherwood, writes about the importance of anticipating and imagining the action you would take should there be an emergency. This is what training does for the firefighter, policeman and soldier. We, too, can train our minds to think in those arenas. Likewise, we can train our children to think creatively regarding emergencies.
2. Building character. It does not matter what the norms of society dictate. Right is still right and wrong is still wrong. Character building is teaching a person to have true values in the issue of right and wrong. While the shifting sands of time and culture change, the Biblical values remain the basis for true character strength.
3. Keeping our bodies fit with daily exercise and good foods. In living with a person who had increasing physical disabilities, I found that while his heart was that of a hero, he was greatly hampered by his physical limitations. Like my husband, there may be little that we can do in some cases. But everyone can do their best to keep their bodies in top condition, no matter what our ages.
4. Don’t second-guess your gut reactions in times of stress. This is an area where I am constantly on alert because of my impulse to “take the safe roads.” While we were traveling in Thailand, a young girl–about 5 years old–stood in the shallow area of a river selling trinkets to the passing boats. Seeing us coming, she stepped too close to our boat to show us her wares. The river suddenly dropped, the water swallowed her and she was drowning within seconds. Without thinking, my son, Mark, instantly jumped into the water from the boat and pulled the young girl to the shore. His new, expensive camera went with him. It was destroyed and all the pictures he had taken of our family time together. However, his gut reaction was correct because the child was rescued.
5. Don’t let optimism, overcome the reality of the danger. Ben Sherwood, in researching his book, found that people who approach great danger with tremendous optimism almost never survive. It appears that overlooking reality too often brings defeat. Risk-taking most have boundaries.
6. Believe that you can do “one more thing.” You don’t have to accomplish the entire feat of valor instantly. You simply have to see the next step and do it. Heroes may not have the entire picture of what is needed to survive. They merely see the next level that must be achieved.
Whether you are facing life living with a disabled child, or you are ministering to people who are mentally challenged, or you simply must live out your day, you have the makings of a hero. The Lord enables us to help inspire and rescue those who are damaged and need the life-giving love of a Savior.