In my 8th grade language arts classes a few years ago, we used to write essays on the topic, “What defines a hero?” Students spent all quarter studying all different types of heroes, and from those various texts, they had to come up with their own definition of heroism. Year after year, we almost always came to the conclusion that a hero is someone who puts others before themselves. This might mean someone in a position to physically save lives, like a police officer or a doctor. Or it might be something more personal, such as standing up for someone who is being bullied next to you in class. But it could even be something fairly insignificant, like giving up your seat on the bus for an elderly passenger.
The main point I always hammer home is that heroism looks different everyone, and that sometimes the smallest acts of kindness or selflessness can mean the most to people around us. Today I was reminded of that in my own life.
The kids and I had a busy, busy day planned. We had to consign some children’s clothes and toys, head across town to a used bookstore to consign some books, head back downtown to go to the library to donate different books and check out our weekly supply, go buy backpacks for school, go grocery shopping, and somehow make it home by swim team at 4:15 (which we didn’t make because I completely forgot about it until 5:26pm…). Since we were going to be in Chris’s office’s part of town, we decided to take him out for lunch.
We had a quick lunch and were pulling into his office parking lot to drop him back off when he suddenly said to the kids, “Hey! Do you guys want to come to work with me for the afternoon while Mom runs her errands?” The kids were, of course, ecstatic about hanging out at Daddy’s office for a few hours and I got a few rare hours to myself this afternoon.
As I drove away from Chris’s office, I thought about that essay that my students write on heroism and how small, seemingly insignificant things can make a profound impact on people around us. And I thought about Chris. I thought about how much he loves his kids. That no matter what is going on in his world, he is never too busy to put them first. I thought about how lucky I was to have a husband who truly enjoys being a father and whose presence in his children’s lives is meaningful and important. I thought about how Chris’s desire to put me and the kids above everything else is not just a characteristic of his own, but is a trait that builds character in the rest of his family, too. We know our worth because Chris shows it to us on a daily basis.
I picked the kids up a few hours later so that Chris could get some actual work done before he had to come home for the day. The kids jumped in the car, talking 90 miles an hour about how much fun they had with Daddy, never knowing what Chris had given up that afternoon in order to be with them.
Heroes are all around us. They show up in capes, in uniforms, in street clothes, in scrubs. They are on street corners, in classrooms, in hospitals, in church pews. But sometimes, they walk in the door at 6:00 in the evening and call out, “Hey, guys! I’m home!”
He is my favorite kind of hero.