Heroic Love and Heartbreak

Two days ago I woke up to find out that two of my friends in Sheffield, England had been killed by a drunk driver. Stephen, 26, was an associate pastor at a church I had the privilege to volunteer at for 6 months. We used to joke around at the office. Sometimes I would get to help lead worship with him. His girlfriend, Mandy, 21, was exuberant, always smiling. The kind of girl it is impossible not to love. They were a couple of the loveliest people you could ever hope to meet.

This picture was taken the night they died.

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I found out as I was getting ready for church.

I felt blessed at the timing, as I was able to stand in worship, surrounded by friends, as I wept for my loss, and that of Stephen and Mandy’s family and friends. I wept for what might have been.

The past two days I have been mourning.

I would force myself to get up and do something, but would always make my way back to bed. I couldn’t seem to stop crying. I was exhausted and ill from grieving.

But this morning, something was different. I woke up with inexplicable joy. I truly believe it is God’s grace. I don’t miss Stephen and Mandy any less. But I am full of peace that they are truly in a better place. As the song goes, “No more sorrow, no more pain.”

This blog is meant to be about heroes. About inspiration. Well, over these past few days my hero has been a man named Ben Andrassy.

Honestly, when I heard the news, I was immediately concerned for all of Steve and Mandy’s family and friends, but especially for Ben. You see, Ben was Stephen’s best friend and Mandy’s brother-in-law. He lost a great deal on Saturday night.

But what he didn’t lose was his faith. Over and over again, Ben has been encouraging others these past couple of days. Reminding them that God is still good. That God still  has good plans for our lives. Reminding us to choose forgiveness, rather than bitterness. (The drunk driver was not injured.) Reminding us that God is close to the brokenhearted. Imploring us to seek Jesus through the pain.

Choosing love in the midst of the greatest grief has got to be one of the most heroic things a person can do.

That is why today, Ben is my hero. I follow your example, Ben. I don’t know if you know the impact you have, but I honor the way you lead, wherever you are. Thank you.

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Tally ho!

     When I was eleven years old, my big brother was graduating high school, getting ready to go off to college, and he received a year book entitled, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” You know, from the Dr. Seuss book.

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    And I remember feeling that pang of longing, which now still pops up every time I see pictures of a beautiful place I’ve never been, or hear a friend tell a story of an adventure they’ve had. Do you know the one I mean?

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   Well, I finally did grow up and I have had adventures and seen far off lands. In fact, I’ve just returned home after spending six months in England and another two in Namibia. And it was incredible. But now I am home and that ache, that longing, is back. You know why I think that is?

 Because we were made to do great things.

   I have loved heroes for as long as I can remember. I think everyone does. Even villains are their own heroes. My favorite movies as a kid included Indiana Jones,  The Three Musketeers, the Jackie Chan films. (Female protagonists in adventure films were few and far between.)

I believe we all ache to be a part of something great, something important. But in the day to day distractions of life, we push that ache somewhere out of the way, until suddenly, those embers of desire that have been smoldering deep inside you, burst into flame again, yelling “DO SOMETHING AWESOME!”

   In one of my favorite shows, Dr. Who, our hero addresses the notion of an unimportant person with an incredulous: “Blimey! That’s amazing! You know that in 900 years of time and space I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t important before.” That’s the truth of it.

 You are important! Did you know?

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     So, I’ve decided that the world has enough mediocrity, I don’t need to add to it. Therefore, I’m going to do my best to live heroically, and I invite you to do the same. I don’t mean that I’m devoting my life to feeding refugees in Somalia, (although those who do certainly are heroes!). I mean that I am going to try to live my life without regret. Serve others. Cultivate relationships. Create beautiful things. Be thankful. Do my part to change the world around me. 

   We see enough of injustice, enough of ugly, hateful things. I’m going to celebrate heroes, and hopefully inspire others to live more extraordinary lives. Want to join me on this brave new adventure?