One day this summer, Jim and Ethan were swimming in the base pool when I noticed a young man swim up to them and begin a conversation.
It's really not unusual for that to happen.
We are continuously blessed by kind and friendly people.
People that respect Ethan's privacy but also his need to interact, to be social, and to connect with the world around him.
God has blessed us over and over again with people that manage that balancing act well.
The young man that approached Jim and Ethan that day was named Mark.
He introduced himself and told Ethan that he admired him and that he was an inspiration to others.
What kind of a person does that?
What kind of a person reaches out to a stranger to compliment and to give encouragement?
The answer is . . .
One who's been there.
One who knows the power in just a few words of recognition and affirmation.
One who knows disappointment and loss.
One who knows stares and curiosity.
One who knows how easy it would be to hide in bitterness and resentment.
One who knows the courage it takes to go out into the world different, and the determination it takes to live the life you've been given.
One that knows God's healing and His grace.
You see, Mark lost both of his legs in Afghanistan.
Mark didn't ask Ethan what happened to him.
And if he had, I don't think it would have made any difference to him.
Heroes don't become heroes by judging other people's worth and value.
They just see people.
They just see the person.
And that day, a hero saw our hero.
Mark touched all of our lives that day and I must say, I don't believe I've ever seen Ethan swim as hard, or be more determined and more courageous, than after meeting Mark.
I'm thinking maybe that's what a little bit of grace, given from one to another, is supposed to do.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."
2 Corinthians 1:4
You can read about Mark and his amazing attitude and courage here.