Unsung Heroes

She was an artist, botanist, nurse, counselor, author and friend. She didn't make it into any headlines. No media pundits shouted her story. No tabloid followed her every move. Her 5-foot, 2-inch stature and what it contained is not immortalized in stone, but in my heart. She was my mother.

As a child, I ran to her with bumps, scrapes, questions and fears. She applied ointment and answers and hugs. She loved the art of listening—to music, to birds…and to her boys. And when, in later life, a succession of strokes robbed her of an ability to speak, she could still listen…and smile.

When she died six years ago this August, I belatedly began to recount her impact on my life: evenings spent in the backyard identifying star constellations; vacation trips punctuated by screeching tires as she spied another unidentified flower along the road; forested jaunts to find the source of an illusive bird call.

While some men and women forge their reputations with public acclaim, my mother followed a different path. In her things, I discovered stories she had authored, watercolors she had painted—elements of artistry apparently put aside in favor of mending torn jeans, scraped knees and battered hearts.

I'm tempted to ponder what she could have become if she had not been limited by…us. What project could she have sponsored? What great book would she have written? What new discovery might she have made?

But I think I know the answer. The projects she sponsored, the books she authored, the discoveries she made, were the seeds sowed in our hearts along with prayer that they not fall on stony ground. Her legacy speaks not in this world's terms, but in a burning desire to see her children and grandchildren in the eternal kingdom.

As I think of other men and women who have made an impact upon my life, it is often the unsung and seemingly unknown who come to mind. While we are sometimes tempted to equate worth with acclaim, in my experience there is absolutely no connection. You're not likely to find my heroes via Google or on American Idol.

In their song, "Heroes," the Isaacs provide a picture that includes so many of those I admire: "It doesn't matter that nobody knows their name; they keep on giving to make life worth living; might go unnoticed, but they're heroes just the same."

If, indeed, as Ellen G. White declares, "all God's biddings are enablings," then even the sky is no limit for those who respond to His unique call. Like my mother's own journey, it may involve a conscious decision to forgo earthly acclaim. But I like to think that in a better place and time of God's choosing, those who have followed the unsung pathways will exult in a far better source of recognition—the everlasting rush of divine delight.

You're not likely to find my heroes via Google or on American Idol.

Featured in: June 2008


Steve Vistaunet

North Pacific Union assistant to the president for communication and Gleaner editor, 1996–2019

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