Maybe you don’t need a definition, but I did. There’s a lot of talk about heroes. Somehow I missed the fact that there’s a show on TV now called “Heroes.” Then there’s all these super hero and comic book hero movies coming to the theater. I haven’t seen any of the TV shows or the new movies, but I think I observed a hero night. Just in case it really was a hero, I thought maybe I should look up the definition.
According to Merriam-Webster a hero is “a. a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability”. I definitely have not met a hero that fits that description. It sounds a little scary to me. Samson is not on my list of “would love to meet” Bible characters. Even the next definition, “an illustrious warrior” is way out of my league of experiences. And I thought I had experienced all there was—now I have a new thing to do on my bucket list; meet an illustrious warrior, unless that would be Samson. I would love to meet a real war hero. Anyone out there have any connections. But, I must confess that I tear up if I pass a soldier in the grocery store wearing their uniform, so maybe I have already done that too.
But I really did see a real live hero Wednesday night. Well, actually, I’ve noticed that she was a hero before last night, I just haven’t written about her before. She wears so many hats and touches so many lives. But Wednesday night, she was wearing the nursery director hat and came by to check on the class. She is also church photographer, but she took off that hat to take an adorable little girl that is being potty trained to the bathroom. What I didn’t realize is the child had an accident in her new little panties and it wasn’t a # 1 accident either. This hero, dressed in jeans, swiped her hair behind her ears, armed with baby wipes, a face mask and long, industrial strength rubber gloves…no, that was me with the rubber gloves and face mask…just teasing. Back to my hero story. Without fan fare, without giving it a second thought, she cleaned up the little girl and brought her back to the class. (I believe there will be a special crown in heaven called the “Diaper Changing Crown”. You can find that written in the book of Jasper 7:14 LOL)
But like I said, she wears many hats. She and her husband rounded up the kids that ride the van for their trip home as we chatted. She knows all the kids stories; their hurts…the reality of their broken homes, broken lives and night mares come true. And not just the kid’s stories, she knows the parent’s and the grand parent’s stories. She shares more than their stories, she shares their pain. She cares. She listens. She hugs. Not the impatient, I’ve got things to do hug, but the lingering, full, but always appropriate, I really care about you, hug.
Yes, Thelma Bartmess, you’re my hero. Not the “a.” or “b.” definition as described by Merriam-Webster, but the “c.” definition “a man (in this case a woman) admired for his achievements and noble qualities.” Thank you for all you do to make our church a better place. Thank you for all the hugs. For all the years you’ve loved on kids and taught them Bible verses. For all your trips to Fine Arts. I’ll just stop here…you know what you do, I’m too tired to go on….
More Like Thelma
Our church, and I’m sure your church, has more than one Thelma; those ordinary people doing things with extraordinary love. Those people are my heroes, not the plastic imitation heroes with fragile egos that parade on the news and social media. While I don’t worship heroes, they inspire. Heroes like Thelma make me want to serve with greater love, give more generously and live louder.
To all the Thelma’s out there, even if you’re called by a different name, THANK YOU! Thank you for living your faith out loud by lovingly serving others. Thank you for making the difference even when no one noticed or no one seemed to care. You don’t need my thank you because that’s just what you do, but I needed to say it.