Call Us Heroes if You'd Like. But We're Normal and, at Times, Needy Too
I love friends.
True friends, I mean. The kind who are willing to call me on my crap when necessary.
I don't think my post requesting that we not be called heroes was crap, but it was flawed. Two friends privately approached me about it, and I agreed with them (after a moment of defensiveness in my immediate reaction, because I'm human like that). Thus the title of the new post: go ahead and call us heroes, but remember that we are normal and flawed and needy, just like you.
One of my pet peeves, as one friend gently reminded me, is when adoptive parents and special needs mamas throw fits about wording: Do say this. Don't say this. Here, learn this set of rules so lengthy that you'll be afraid to ever open your mouth around a child with special needs or an adoptive family ever again.
Side note: I do think some words should be avoided, like "retarded." Using the r-word is as distasteful and offensive as using the n-word or b-word to address Jocelyn's first grade teacher, a black woman.
Most words, though, that we perceive as hurtful are wholly unintentional. I love to talk about adoption (and holistic orphan care beyond adoption) and special needs, and I would be grieved if someone felt like we couldn't talk about that because they might accidentally insult me by calling me a hero.
So if you consider us heroes, then feel free to call us that.
I merely ask that you remember three things as you do:
- God is the real Hero. We're just following Him where He leads.
- We're normal(ish) and flawed and needy too. Please, please, please don't exalt us. One of my biggest struggles with being called a hero is the distance that word created for us when we came home with Zoe. Being labeled "hero" felt like we were being put on a pedestal, and when you're on a pedestal, you're up high above everyone else. So when we struggled - and struggled hard - we didn't feel like anyone was close enough to turn to, in part because of the praise being heaped on us and in part because of our own arrogance in not wanting to diminish the exalted view others had of us. Maybe the problem was our perception, but we felt like people couldn't see us as both heroes AND friends so - for a season, at least - friendships seemed far away because our friends no longer viewed us on the same plane as them. I felt isolated by being viewed as a hero and not a mom who was struggling in some of the same ways as any other mom (and in some unique ways due to adoption issues).
- Heroism comes in many forms. If you consider adopting three siblings from Africa to make us heroes, remember that you're surrounded by other heroes. My friend who cares for her ailing mother behind closed doors? No one sees her heroism. The one who gets up every morning and loves her family even though her heart is torn in two by the loss of her father? That's a hero, though no one will call her that. The man who puts on his badge, the teenager who chooses what's right over what's popular, and the one who stands for what is good without being a jerk about it... all are heroes. Honestly, I find it easier to obey in the big and visible acts than the small and less visible ones; for example, it's easier to adopt than it is to parent after the adoption. It's kind of like how all the attention is on the wedding looming as a big deal, when the marriage following the wedding is the harder task. It's easier to act like a hero when everyone is watching; it's harder to do it when no one (or perhaps only your family) witnesses your obedience. That's why I started my last post with the example of small acts that people did to meet our needs when Robbie had his seizure; most of those weren't visible to anyone but us, but those people were heroes to us in the moment we needed them.
I started this post by saying that I love friends. I do.
That's why the word hero makes me nervous. Please cherish our friendship more than you exalt any heroism you might see in us. And please recognize, as you go about your daily lives, you're probably acting as a hero and interacting with heroes far more often than you realize.