Monday, December 31, 2012


Everyone loves a hero.

There have been so many wonderful ones too. Unlikely heroes. Heroes that are larger than life. Heroes that don't even know they're heroes.

The stories of the world are saturated with them. Atticus Finch of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockinbird. Katniss from The Hunger Games. Indiana Jones. Robin Hood. Eowyn from The Lord of the Rings. Superman.

We love heroes, each and every one of us.

And, in our lives, there are two opposing forces: the need to be rescued by a hero and the desire to be one.

The foundation of humanity, admitted or not, is that, fallen, depraved and utterly base, a Hero came to our rescue. An unlikely Hero, but that's what made the story all the better. A Hero that was humble, kind, forgiving. One who fought battles not with angry words or lashing weapons, but with excruciating sacrifice. A Hero that fought hard, fought bravely, and won.

Our story of redemption is the original story of a hero.

As a child, I watched The Lion King so many times that eighteen years later my parents still know it word for word. One of my favorite scenes was the one where young Simba and Nala go to the elephant graveyard. I was extremely imaginative and rather liked to think that I could be a lion if I wanted to. In fact, I could be whatever lion I liked. So, in this particular scene, I would switch back and forth from pretending to be Simba to pretending to be Nala. I always loved the part where Nala gets stuck in the bones, being chased down by the hyenas, and calls to Simba for help, and he responds, giving the vicious hyena a good, hard scratch on the face.

This particular moment was such a hard one for little me to decide who to be that oftentimes I would completely miss it while trying to choose. On one hand, I very much wanted to be the courageous, albeit reckless, Simba, dashing in to save his friend. On the other, Nala was a girl, which turned the tables considerably in her favor. And there was something I relished about Simba saving me. But then I did enjoy doing the saving... And so I would argue with myself until another scene arrived and the character of choice was easier to determine.

Even as a child, this fundamental question haunted me. I wanted to be a hero, but I needed to be saved.

We forget sometimes when we're living out our stories that the role of hero has already been cast.

We are minor characters, extras in the sea of civilians who were saved from an impending comet by Superman. Not Superman.

We are the lowly peasants, given food and money by Robin Hood, who has forfeited wealth and power to provide for us. Not Robin himself.

Heroes are brave. Heroes are noble. Heroes can and should be emulated, just as I emulated Simba as a little girl.

But we must always remember that we are Nala too. And, of course, just after that scene in the movie, what happens?

Mufasa rescues them all. Even Simba, the little hero.

Somehow, I could never pretend to be Mufasa.

There is only one true Hero.

The rest of us are just pretending.

Monday, December 10, 2012


Lately, I had someone ask me why I care about people with special needs so much.

The answer that came to mind was simple: my brother and sister have special needs. I can't just sit around and do nothing while kids like Levi and Evan are being horribly mistreated and misunderstood.

While that answer makes the most sense, and came the most naturally to me, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there had to be something more.

Of course having siblings with special needs made it an area of particular interest for me, but having siblings with Down syndrome doesn't necessarily reshape your life into a mission for orphans with special needs. I think of Levi and Evan as a kickstart.

But what's the real reason? There's something that drives me to special needs orphan care that is not so simple and easy as being related.

Reading my Bible last night, I realized with amazement for the millionth time that God does not love me because I've done anything special. He loves me because He chooses to love me. He sees worth and value in me that are completely unrelated to what I am and am not able to do.

And then it struck me.

How can I accept the worth and value God places on me by no merit of my own and yet be unwilling to extend that same worth and value to others?

I can't. It would hypocrisy at its finest. To accept the love that God has for me is to accept the fact that I am just as broken, just as "disabled," just as helpless as any other person on the planet. If this is the case, I have no right to judge the abilities or shortcomings of others. Whether they have a special need, are in prison, or are addicted to drugs. There is nothing I have done that can rise me above anyone else.

Even as I am saved and become a daughter of the Almighty God, His will for my life is not for me to stand above all of my spiritual siblings, but to walk alongside them, loving them in their imperfection as God loves me every day in mine.

For my value is not in what I can or cannot do, but in what God says of me. And that truth is for everyone who believes. Everyone who holds Christ dear to their heart. The convict. The prostitute. The alcoholic. The liar. The popular girl at school. The man in a wheelchair. The child with Down syndrome.

All can find value and worth in God. You just have to accept it.