My Personal Heroes and Heroines
But as I’ve grown older and wiser, as my priorities have shifted, two people have played prominent roles in becoming my “guiding stars” to steer my developing character and important decisions: my mom and dad (this is where you’re supposed to go “aaaaaw” with a happy little frown…).
My mom and dad come from good, “normal” families. But what sticks out to me is the decisions my parents have made throughout their family…um, career.
Here is a good example: They have both been committed to the Gospel and to the church all my life. At the age of 29, my dad accepted a call to be a mission president in the country in which he served as a missionary: Sweden. He gave up a secure job (in which he had recently been promoted), a new home (after years in an apartment), and a new car.
My mom, never having had the advantage of going on a mission to Sweden and learning the language, agreed to go and support her husband in this calling. By the time they packed up and left, they had 4 children, the youngest being 2 weeks old.
My dad had missionaries who were older than he was. My mom was a hot PYT (pretty young thing) and had to be a “mission mom” and a source of counsel and inspiration to a group of missionaries, basically her peers. She also had to learn Swedish from scratch. My dad dealt with teaching, training, speaking, and leading. My mom had to deal with children (number 5 was born in Sweden), a foreign language, foreign currency, schools, speaking assignments, and hosting a constant stream of family visitors and church leaders. To her credit, she only cried two times: in a testimony meeting early on when she realized she couldn’t understand a single word of what was going on and once in the produce section of the grocery store (foreign currency and the metric system had taken its toll…). I don’t know if my dad cried out of frustration, but knowing him, he probably cried along with some of his missionaries.
It took a lot of faith for my parents to do what they did. They literally left everything to go serve the Lord for three years. I’ve made a covenant to do that, too, but I have never been asked, and if I were, could I go so willingly? But that singular experience, I believe, has had more impact on our family character and identity than any other decision they have ever made. It really set a precedence that would carry on for the rest of out family life: constant moving, church callings, and a willingness to stand up and serve anywhere, anytime.
When I think about what my parents were doing at my age (by my current age, my mom was pregnant with the last…number 7, and my dad had been promoted um-teen times within the company he still works for…) I am overwhelmed. I’m such an underachiever! Not like it’s a contest, but I have a lot to live up to; a lot to strive for. That is what a hero is to me; someone to aspire to…something to strive (not stroll) towards. I don’t want 7 kids, and I don’t want to be a retail executive (OK, maybe a lower level executive…), but I want to be as committed as they are. I want to be as smart as they are. And I want to have a close and loving family like they created for us.