January 14, 2014

My 'Everyday' Heroes of Yesterday

Sometimes doing something simple and easy qualifies someone as a hero.  Yesterday I made conversation with a gentleman in line at Office Depot as we waited to check out.  He was a well-dressed man who looked like a mature but not old James Earl Jones.  He declined to take my spot in line when I offered it to him, as I thought he might have gotten there first.  That opened up a genial discussion that ranged from family size to school teaching to settling estates.  When I reached my car and found that it wouldn’t start, I was glad that I had a friend in the store.  Just the few minutes of speaking to this kind man, I felt pretty confident that he would help me get the car started once he came outside. 

I had guessed right.  He pulled his car over and got his gear out.  As he did so, another man pulled in next to me and offered to help as well.  He looked a lot like Will Smith.  The men seemed to know each other, but only just met, yet friends because their auto tags showed each were members of the same college Fraternity.  They were brothers in that sense and behaved so as they gave my car the jump it needed to start it. 
Once the car was started, I gushed my thanks to these men.  They brushed it aside and urged me to idle for 10 minutes then head straight to an Auto Zone to have the battery checked.  Their concern for me made me feel as if I was in good hands.  Following their advice, I ended up with a new battery and no worries driving to my next several errands around town. 

Their heroism lasted just 5 or 10 minutes, but it helped me greatly.  After many years of driving unreliable cars, I had grown accustomed to having a good one.  This failure of my car battery had made me worry again about making it home without further problems.  These men eased my fears and helped me get the long term help I needed.  I was back in business without a lot of stress and drama, but with a lot of gratitude. 
I hope these men felt good inside for the ‘good turn’ they did for me.  It wasn’t grand, nothing to make the papers, but for me it was a big help.  I thought of the great line in the movie, “While You Were Sleeping.”  

Lucy: You give up your seat every day in the train.
Peter: Well... But that's not heroic.
Lucy: It is to the person who sits in it.  (From IMDB)

A house burned to the ground a few days ago in our neighborhood.  The family escaped with just the clothes they were wearing.  Nothing remains except part of the brick foundation,a charred basket ball goal in their driveway and their charred cars.  Within hours of the tragedy, the neighbors donated boxes and more boxes of clothes and supplies for the displaced family.  The neighborhood clubhouse became the collection point.  When I dropped by, they were turning away boxes of clothes, as they had determined that the family had enough at that point.  People continued to stream in, bringing gift cards and cash to help.  Most of these generous neighbors won’t miss the money or box of clothes they gave away, but it must have been a real blessing to this family.  Just knowing that the neighbors would rally behind them must have given them a big boost.  

All it takes to find these heroes is to watch for the goodness in others.  These little things qualify, just as well as the big things that generally define a hero.  As Jesus taught, “Whether you have done it unto the least of these, my brethren or to me, it is the same.”  (Matthew 25:40 roughly)  Being kind and helpful to others is being a hero to those who need that kindness or help.  And Jesus counts it as if it had been done to Him, blessing us for it abundantly.