With recent school shootings, natural disasters and war, there’s been something on my mind. Would I stand up, using my body as a shield to protect others? When someone is drowning, would I pull them to safety before myself?
It’s hard for me to say, and I probably won’t find out unless I am put in that position. But it’s not bad to think about, because self-reflection is an opportunity to examine your character and, if necessary, make changes for the better.
The Bible even touches on these circumstances. John 15:13 states, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
There are two kinds of heroes—those who stand up in the face of tragedy and everyday heroes. We all can be everyday heroes, whether we are placed in a highly dangerous situation or not.
An everyday hero may never make the front page of the paper. They’re the hard-working people you know who never boast about their accomplishments and rarely complain about having to do something extra for someone else. The everyday hero doesn’t have to do something Earth-shattering to earn the title.
But being an everyday hero takes balance and prioritizing.
In order to serve or help others, you need to first take care of yourself. If you don’t eat, how can you have the strength to feed others? If you don’t do your homework first, how can you help someone else understand the assignment? How can you carry someone out of a burning building if you don’t first protect yourself from the flames?
Of course, those examples are extreme, but they’re meant to be. Being a hero is extreme.
What can be conflicting is that we are somehow meant to look out for ourselves, but also put others first. In everyday life, I struggle with this balance. I’d rather sit up and talk on the phone with a friend who needs it for two hours than get a full eight hours of sleep. But then the next morning when I wake up, I tell myself that I should’ve gotten more sleep.
Which do you choose, serving yourself or serving others?
Many people who are caught in crises talk about the natural instinct to save others. Shouldn’t that play out in our everyday lives, too?
So how can we become heroes without a life-or-death situation at hand? Through daily sacrifices for others.
If you give up a little sleep to get coffee with a friend, let someone else have the last muffin at breakfast or offer to help someone on an assignment, you are a hero. You’re choosing to put someone else’s needs before your own. That attitude of service is fulfilling because choosing to put yourself after others proves you honor the worth and dignity of those around you.
Our world doesn’t need people with superpowers, it just needs everyday heroes.
Caroline Rode can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.