Humility

5-10-14 034I met a man today who has eleven children. I have two for which I am immensely proud of and grateful for. But, eleven? I can’t wrap my head around that many mouths to feed and bodies to cloth, etc., etc.. I know there are still large families in our culture, although families of this size are not as common as in past generations. I can imagine all of these children gathered around dad and mom like a flock of ducklings is gathered around their mom…hence this photograph I shot at a local park. I felt it inappropriate to photograph some of these children which I have seen. That would have been an affront to their privacy, and I doubt father would have approved.

You must understand the circumstances which aroused my curiosity enough for me to engage the dad. We both work out rather early at a health club during the week, and I see him arrive and leave with about five of his older children whom he brings with him. After witnessing this dynamic enough times, I asked him his name and if he didn’t mind sharing about the children. His name is Travis, and he is thirty-six years old. He and his wife adopted ten of their eleven children. The adopted children are of color while he is not so the contrast is rather evident. Some of the adopted children come from the same biological parents, but Travis was quick to point out that he and his wife are their parents now. I asked him how they came to adopt so many and he simply said that the need was great. That was the end of our conversation, except I let him know that I respected him. I walked away knowing that Travis was a humble man. He could have expounded about the decision to adopt, the difficulties involved, the amount of energy and time and resources it takes to care for these kids, but he didn’t. He simply said there was a great need and he and his wife did their part. I was humbled.

This post really isn’t so much about a thirty-six year old man with ten adopted children, although that is the reality. No, this post is about humility which seems too often to be a dying art in our culture of me-ism. The beauty of humility is that you don’t know the extraordinary things people are doing unless someone draws your attention to him or her. The contrast to this is reflected in our social media where folks can’t get enough of themselves plastered on screens and websites. Athletes, actors and politicians seem to have another special place when it comes to self-promotion. Occasionally, we witness a well-known individual who reflects the trait of true humility. I recall Kevin Durant’s acceptance speech last year for receiving the MVP award in the NBA. Stunningly humble.

There are Travis’ and Kevins’ all over the world. There are young and old, male and female, healthy and the infirmed who exemplify the trait of humility. The great thing about all of these unsung heroes is that we don’t know many of them unless we are close to them and know their deeds and hearts. I am pleased to state that my wife and children are humble which brings me joy. And, I count it a privilege to have met Travis who has reminded me that true heroes do exist. They are all around me…and you!

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