Everyday Heroes

Today marks the anniversary of the September 11th bombings, and many of us will spend time remembering the horrors we witnessed on that unforgettable day. We will experience anew the fear and anger caused by this unimaginable catastrophe, and grieve again the losses of life and innocence that resulted. But we’ll also recall and pay homage to the countless heroes who acted in the midst of this unthinkable crisis; heroes whose bravery and courage shone brightly against the backdrop of incomprehensible evil. These selfless men and women planted within our hearts the hope that we could, and would, overcome this horrific tragedy.

Most of us will never forget where we were on the morning of September 11th. For my part, I was in Houston’s Medical Center, receiving what would be my final dose of chemotherapy. As I watched the events of that day unfold before me on the hospital’s television screen, I was amazed by the emerging stories of extraordinary heroes who had sacrificed their own lives in service to others. And it was then that I began to reflect upon all the heroes I’d encountered during my cancer battle. True, none had placed themselves in harm’s way in order to care for me; still, they stood as heroes in my eyes as they:
  • encouraged me with visits, phone calls and e-mails;
  • challenged and inspired me to continue the fight when I thought I had no fight left;
  • delivered groceries and nourishing meals to my family when I was unable to provide them on my own;
  • attended to Jeffrey when I was unable to; and
  • sent up unending prayers on my behalf, seeking God’s mercy and healing.
Through their simple, sincere acts of kindness, those humble, selfless souls shone brightly against the backdrop of a disease threatening my existence; they sustained within my heart the hope that I could, and would, overcome. They were heroes of the "everyday" variety.

So, what is an everyday hero? A movie I once saw answered this question for me. It includes a scene where the male lead is lamenting the fact that he’s done nothing truly heroic in his lifetime. The female lead reminds him that he has a habit of offering his seat on the train to anyone who needs it. The male lead says, “But that’s not heroic,” and the female lead responds, “It is to the person who sits in it.” In the eye of the beholder, one noble and unselfish act translated to heroism, aligning perfectly with Webster's definition of a hero:

a person who is admired or idealized for courage,
outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.

Is it possible that, deep down, every person longs to be someone else’s hero? I certainly aspire to be this type of individual; it is an aspiration intensified by my Christian faith, which calls me to give like Christ gave and serve as He served (1 Peter 4:10-11, Galatians 5:13-14, Luke 6:38). Although I may never be called upon to heroically sacrifice my life in service to another, I can be a hero of the everyday sort through simple, sincere acts of kindness.

I thank God for all the heroes in our midst - men and women who make the world a better place for all people through their deeds, great and small. May I strive to emulate them, and may my every action, ordinary or otherwise, bring attention and honor to the greatest Hero I will ever encounter: Jesus Christ, the One who sacrificed Himself once for us all (Hebrews 10:1-18).

Image courtesy of Leaders Best on Twitter