Real Heroes

Today’s first official post in the 365 days of blogging is dedicated to the heroes in my life.

Whenever we think of heroes, we usually think of the famous or revolutionary figures that shaped new philosophies, overcame hardships, or conquered injustices. This we do with good reason. After all, we read about them in our textbooks, celebrate their birthdays, hang their portraits in museums and all that jazz.

Yet there are many heroes whom we come across everyday that we tend to neglect or forget to consider: our family and friends. These are people who seem to go about their ordinary lives–work normal jobs, take out the trash, tend gardens, and so forth. But they speak extraordinary volumes of love and courage by doing the very necessary yet often unrecognized things. They are the real heroes.

I am blessed to have the support of many loving people in my life to get me through valleys as well as celebrate the peaks. There’s no better way to start off my year-long adventure than by acknowledging them.

1. My family is made up of heroes. I am reminded of this every time I eat one of my mother’s fantastic meals, take in some of my father’s deep-reaching wisdom, or share in my sister’s ambition for life. What they have given me are the building blocks on how to live my life with integrity and love. They have often sacrificed many of their own wants to meet the needs of those around them. They won’t get much outward recognition for it, but they don’t mind it. Real heroes wouldn’t want it anyway.

2. Friends can be heroes, too. I have come across many faces and developed great friendships throughout my 25 years. There are heroes who have shaped and inspired me somewhere along my journey, and I am thankful for each person. As with the seasons, so have many of them come and gone. But I have not lost them; they are still with me today because of what they have taught and given me. And some, like these guys above, have been with me every step of the way. “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

3. My pastors are my heroes. Jon and Daryl do so much for the church family with little or no complaint. They constantly check up on me, imparting wisdom on how to live my life with purpose and passion. I am reminded of what really matters, not only by what they teach on Sundays but how they love their wives, children, neighbors, friends, and people in and outside of church walls. These are humble and godly men whose footsteps I want to follow.

Mother Teresa once said, “There are no great things. Only small things with great love.” The greater work then, I suppose, is to give all of yourself into whatever task or person is before you so that you leave something that extends beyond prizes and trophies. Who you are will be written in what you give. And what you give will be a lasting legacy.

That’s what makes a hero.

Meet Kelly Dlux

Call me for beats...or just call me.

I just met a new friend and brotha (by race and by spirit) this week. His name is Kelly, and he’s a DJ. That’s his sexy-time picture on the right. I met him on Monday and I’ve seen him everyday for hours since. He would crash at our pad with his macbook and download music and videos to prepare for parties. It’s been nonstop laughs with this guy. Some highlights:

– Walking around Target, as I’m looking for shampoo in the “health/beauty” section, he randomly screams out: “Martin, I found your hemorrhoid cream over here!”

– We made a blog that was supposed to reflect his musings on God. It was initially called “Kelly’s Exchange,” which was fine, until you noticed the URL without the apostrophe s: “kellysexchange.blogspot.com.” Oops. He decided to opt for the safer, more PG-sounding “JesusNstuff.blogspot.com.” We’ll probably get less hits, though.

– He bought a binder at Walmart for the upcoming semester at Talbot, and he wanted to get a Justin Bieber picture to put on the front because–to quote his exact words–“she’s so hot right now and I love her dance moves!!”

And there’s probably more that are better left off the record. But this man is a riot. In fact, he’s probably causing one right now at some girl’s 13th birthday party up in Simi Valley.

The point of this post? Make friends with DJs to have good times.

Yogurt, Ravi, & Heavier Things

We had just finished catching a world-renowned apologist, theologian and scholar named Ravi Zacharias guest speaking at a church. The placed was packed with thousands. And wow. I mean, you talk about a man who is truly one of a kind in our ever-dulling generation—you give the man a brain (mind) and heart (passion) and feet (direction or purpose), and when you actually have him maximize those gifts to their fullest capacities, not profligate like I have been with TV or Internet or other silly misadventures, I would safely presume that Ravi is the kind of man that you get. Please hear this man speak—I appeal to you all: Muslim, Buddhist, atheist and Christian. Again, I say to you, hear him speak! There are not enough words to adequately describe the brilliance of this man; and funny enough, there is not a single ounce of praise that he rightfully deserves—it is truly God who has anointed this man.

You should get to know this face.

You should get to know this face.

So, it was me and my brother Josh—I call him “life coach” or “JB” for short—deciding to go out afterward for some yogurt, giving us a chance to catch up and shoot the breeze about life. After what we had just witnessed, we both knew we were preparing for round two of heavier things.

Josh and I have become great friends throughout the years, but it has not always been this way. In fact, the funny thing is, he and I actually disliked each other throughout most of high school. Granted, it was over legitimate reasons. I had heard rumors that he played one of my girlfriends (which turned out not to be true at all), and he thought I was a gangster. Like, seriously, a gangster. “Dude, don’t mess with Martin—he’s got back” was supposedly the rumor he had heard. That’s right, friends. I’m just the baddest mofo on the planet. Now please tell that to my mother.

last-samurai

"Tell me how he died..."

JB’s like one of the most underrated people/friends that I know and have ever met. I mean, the man himself is like a walking contradiction. An engineer for Boeing who plays in a rock band on weekends and writes poetry after taking down guys in his Jiu-jitsu classes? Have you heard of such a thing? And just take a look at him. He’s maybe a few pounds heavier than me but he can grapple with guys twice his size! Also, don’t forget to check out his movie star looks—you can’t really figure it out initially, but think less Brad Pitt, more emperor from Last Samurai. I guess to sum it up, if you could play Josh in Vegas, you’d bet on him easily—cause his odds are great but you know he’d come up winning every time.

So there we were, two grown men outside a teeny bopper zone eating frozen yogurt in the middle of winter. Just as it should be. We settled down, and as expected, we picked each other’s brains like wild chimpanzees and broached topics spanning all of life—our personal lives, friendships, philosophy, nature, science, society, business, sports, traveling, board games, church, God, love (not to be confused with lust), and girls (not to be confused with love…cause sometimes, we just don’t). I know it sounds like an awful lot for one sitting, but with JB, it is definitely possible. It’s just that we normally choose to talk about last night’s episode of Lost or what cereal we had for breakfast.

But one thing that he intimated with me, one thing that particularly stood out and that I wanted to share with you, was our need to take risks in life:

“Look, we weren’t meant to be trapped in our cages—cages which we create for ourselves. Lock ourselves in our big, comfortable houses, afraid to take risks. And why go out? We got Facebook, TiVo, match.com. I mean, do you see what the so-called comfort of society has done to us? It has numbed our passions, desensitized us, trampled on our social skills, made us fat, and deferred our dreams. Worse, it might even have rendered us incapable of dreaming—like truly dreaming BIG. Living and growing up in our society has caused us to conform to this ‘standard.’ No longer do we go out of what’s deemed comfortable, no longer do we seek adventure or take chances—to really live. We tell ourselves we can’t do it, we tell ourselves that this is too risky. But God meant for us to take risks! What do you think faith is? But right out of school, we seek that 9-5 job, pay our bills, have our families, plan our 401k, retire, and collect seashells until we die. And in this system we will have died a thousand deaths before we actually hit the grave.”

I wish I could transcribe all the things that we talked about that night because our conversation was amazing. No false humility here; it was just flat out awesome. But the point he shared is what I want to extend to you, friends. Take risks! You got one life. And what’s it worth to you if you’re not truly living? Nothing is ever achieved without first overcoming those doubts and fears. That self-fabricated voice that tells you that you can’t do something or that you’ll fail—it’s a lie! Indeed, you might fail in your attempts, but that’s not where the death happens. The death happens when you decide nothing will happen. Death occurs and death wins when your creativity, your passions, your voice are silenced, when they will never resound in a world that might need to hear it more than ever. Just think about it: if you were to die, and your life would have meant no difference as if it were never lived. Scary thought. You will die before nothing ever happens.

So take risks. Roll the dice. Write your novels, take your trips to South America, tell the girl that you love her (or commit to her), start your businesses, and really take some time to think about the possible existence of God! Just don’t equate risk with lack of reason; risk and sense are not mutually exclusive. Calculate them and really think what impassions your spirit and what you could do to let it come alive.

Some of these things I mention might sound scary—so foreign and uncomfortable to us—because they would mean ultimate paradigm shifts in our thinking, in our current living, and in our life direction. But if birds are so fashioned to have wings, were they not meant to use them? They aren’t meant to be caged. We have been wonderfully fashioned with passions, desires, goals, talents, gifts—use them! Don’t lay them to waste.

It was midnight. As I got up to go, Josh and I exchanged our awkward high-fives/pounds/man-hugs. I left, physically and mentally drained from the day’s festivities. But I was excited, because I knew God had used him to build upon the fire that only hours earlier Ravi had rekindled in my soul.

Or maybe there was just something extra in that yogurt last night.

– – – –

Man, it’s like my mind is still throbbing from the vibrant pulse I felt from his. I feel like he’s a man whose journey is always kind of crossing mine at the same time. We learn the same lessons, experience the same epiphanies, and fight the same battles. You meet some people who are on the same wavelength as you and you know right then and there that this person can just feel you. It’s like that with me and JB.

JB, if we were both stuck in a desert with a bucket of rocks, I think we’d still have the time of our lives. We’d talk and make the most out of everything. Well, that is, until we dehydrate and die a horrible death of thirst. Here’s to you, Lifecoach!