“The hero becomes strongest at his weakest point.”—The Road to Character, David Brooks
There’s these books that I love reading to toddlers, a series of them that all begin with “That’s not my _____” The blank is filled by things like puppy, dragon, fairy, cow, etc. They’re touch and feel books and go through all the creatures that are not “mine.” So it will say something along the lines of “That’s not my puppy, it’s ears are too soft” and then you will be able to feel the soft ears. It goes through the whole book like this until finally you get to the last page and it says something like, “That’s my rabbit! Her nose is so shiny!”
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about heroes. I’ve been writing a story about some superheroes so it’s a given that I would think about them. But I’ve been reading tons of things about superheroes. They’re everywhere and there’s tons of writing prompts about them. I have an entire playlist for this story I’m writing of songs that all relate to the story in someway which means 99% superhero songs. Marvel and other comic books heroes are everywhere and you can’t go anywhere without running into some reference or memorabilia celebrating them. My heroes though are a little different than these. All of the superheroes in these movies and such are known for wearing super suits, some of which give them additional powers. Some superheroes wear capes and masks, to conceal their identity or look cool. My heroes wear different things than these other heroes.
One of my heroes is a man by the name of Steven Stokes. He was a professor of mine that passed away last week and today, I attended his funeral. Brother Stokes taught me one thing that stood out from all of the rest, and that was what it means to have care and concern. These principles are the basis for a program run at one of the juvenile facilities around here and we studied them in my class. While I was taking this class though, I was going through some really rough times. Brother Stokes went out of his way to see how I was. He asked sincerely and listened to everything I told him. He always was willing to lend an ear to someone who wanted to talk. He taught me what it means to truly care about another person. Today at his funeral, one of his sons spoke and said that they had learned from their father the concept of remembering people’s names because it makes them feel important. Brother Stokes truly showed this concept in his life. He had thousands of students but he remembered all of them by name and followed them in the years after they left school and they would come back to visit him. This hero of mine wears a smile and has a heart of gold.
Another of my heroes, is a man by the name of Vance McHan. Brother McHan passed away this morning and when I heard the news, tears came from my eyes immediately. Brother McHan is the father of my best friend. He was also my seminary teacher, my bishop, and my friend. Brother McHan was funny and so insightful. He always was willing to give advice and counsel when I was having a hard day. He showed a great example of sticking to it as he would get up every morning before early morning seminary so he could go running and look over his lesson before coming to the church building where he would teach us and have conversations with us that taught me so much about the gospel, and about our savior, Jesus Christ. Brother McHan put up with our teasing, bickering and tormenting of each other in seminary and again when he became Bishop. He would welcome me into his home and tease me just as he did his daughters. Brother McHan taught me what it means to be a friend to someone else. This hero of mine wears running shoes.
The next of my heroes I don’t remember too well. She passed away when I was seven and not a day goes by that I don’t miss her. I have things of hers that remind me of her and I keep them with me in hopes of being more like her. I like to think that I resemble my grandma in a lot of what I do and from the stories I hear about her, I truly do. My grandma had such a unique sense of style, bright colors and patterns. My grandma wore colored pants fifteen years before they were cool. She loved to dance and she loved little keepsakes like stuffed bears and statuesque angels. This hero of mine wears polka dots.
The next of my heroes is actually a league of heroes. My siblings. Both the elder and the younger are my heroes, all in their own unique ways that they touch my life. My sister, Amanda, is my hero because she goes after her dreams. My brother, Coby, is my hero because of the presiding figure he is for his family. My sister, Chellayne, is my hero because she is in the process of raising and homeschooling a handful of amazing kids wither her husband. My brother, Lonnie, is my hero because he marches to his own drum. My brother, Dominick, is my hero because he looks up to me and knows what it means to truly listen to someone. My brother, Gabe, is my hero because he is talented in ways he doesn’t even understand yet. My brother, Taha, is my hero because his smile stretches wider than the equator and when he laughs, heaven laughs with him. My sister, Grace, is my hero because she is confident in her true beauty and knows her Heavenly Father. These heroes of mine share my blood.
My next hero is another seminary teacher. President Turner has made such a huge impact in my life. He is one of the kindest souls I know and his example lives with me every day. President Turner loves every student that passes through his classroom with a love so strong you can see it in his eyes and hear it in the way he teases you. His smile lit up every morning of seminary, combining with the light of Christ to make the room shine brighter than the sun. President Turner holds his priesthood with such love and care, you can feel God’s love through him. This hero of mine wears a suit and tie.
This next hero is a woman who could easily be compared to some of the amazing women in the scriptures, like Esther. Juniel Bingham is an incredible example to me. She’s had her fair share of challenges and I can’t imagine what those would have been like to experience. She’s stayed strong through it all though and taught me so much in the meantime. She was one of my youth leaders when I was in Young women’s and she made every minute fun. Even when things got stressful, she always found a way to smile and joke around with us. On the hardest days, she still took care of her children, showed love to them and her husband and at the end of the day, thanked her Father in Heaven for all that she had. Juniel is always willing to talk even now when I’m having a hard day or need advice with something. Juniel never gives up. This hero carries a diaper bag.
I could go on forever and ever. My parents. My aunts and uncles. All of my grandparents. My roommates. All of my church leaders. My friends. Every teacher I’ve ever had. The strangers who’ve complimented me. The leaders of this nation. Everyone is my hero.
The last hero I’ll mention here today tops all the rest and I’m sure everyone saw it coming. My ultimate hero is my Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the ultimate exemplar of patience, love, kindness, being a teacher, faith, and so many other things. This hero stands with me on my best days, clapping his hands and cheering me on. He carries me on my darkest days, crying with me and holding me tight. He guides me when I’m lost, heals me when I’m broken, and keeps my humble when I’m well. He died for me. He loves me with a love that is so whole and complete. He paid the price of my sins. He knows every pain I’ve felt, every triumph I’ve had. He knows what I feel in a way I don’t even understand. I love this hero more than anything. In that book I’ve mentioned, The Road to Character, there’s a section that reads, “The trial is already over….Jesus stood trial for you. He took the condemnation that you deserve.” And then, “Imagine the person you love the most in the world getting nailed to wood as penalty for the sins your yourself committed. Imagine the emotions that would go through your mind as you watched that.” All of these other people, they are my heroes, but Christ, he is my Superhero. This hero of mine wears robes of white and carries the weight of the world.