My Growing Hero

I am not sure who your childhood heroes were/are.  I don’t remember having too many heroes growing up.  I wasn’t into Baseball, so Shoeless Joe or Nolan Ryan weren’t on my A-list.  I played soccer, but wasn’t into international soccer and American soccer didn’t really have any mainstream heroes to speak of.  I don’t remember being into Batman or Superman, so those are out too.  My heroes were probably my older brothers and dad.  They were older, cooler then me, and got to do stuff I wasn’t able to do yet.

As I have gotten older my heroes are mostly dead theologians, early dead presidents, or “normal” everyday men that dedicate their lives to growing up their families to glorify God in a world that expects men to only care about sports, pornography, and extending their adolescents into their retirement years.

However, over the last couple of years I have noticed a growing hero in my midst.  I am talking about my son, Gideon.  When my wife and I decided to adopt from Liberia we had no idea what God might have in store for us.  We knew we were adopting a boy.  He was about 13 months when the Lord lead us to him and original name was “Melody Richard Ross”.  That was all we knew.  All we had to look at was one small picture of him standing in a dirt filled yard with over-sized clothes on.  We knew people that had adopted only to be faced with kids with Reactive attachment disorder (RAD), various medical problems, and a mixed bag of other social problems.  However, God looked down on us, and because of nothing we had done to earn it, gave us Gideon.  Our “Mighty Man of Valor”.  (Sidenote: The reason we chose that name for our son is that 1. I love the biblical story of Gideon and what he did and 2. On his own he was not a mighty man at all.  He was only mighty when the Angel of the Lord spoke that over his life and only mighty when the Lord was with him.  We wanted our son to have that foundation into his name.  He is only as mighty to the extent that God is with him and enables him.  It has nothing to do with his own physical strength.)

Why he is my hero?  I have learned so much from Gideon.  He is like walking theology to me.  From the theology of adoption, to his accepting Christ as his Lord and Savior at a young age, to his joyful personality that is infectious, to the amazingly curious things that he says.  Sarah and I truly feel like Gideon isn’t ours as much as he is a gift that God has given us to steward for Him.  Looking at him this way has helped us to view our other children in the same way and has shaped all of our parenting.  They aren’t “ours” as much as they are God’s gifts for us to steward.

I don’t know if all parents instinctively feel this way about their firstborn.  Sarah and I feel a hidden emotion in our heart that Gideon is truly designed for something special and unique.  It is odd to us because it isn’t a feeling like we have to pressure him to be more then he is or that we are placing all our hopes and dreams on him.  It is like a quite whisper from the Lord to us to watch and see what God will do with his life.

I’ve learned how to steward the gifts God has given me and not to grab hold of them as if they were rightfully mine.

He has amazed me in so many ways.  Like the way he views the world.  If you follow my wife on FB then you will know then myriad of interesting things that have come out of his mouth in the last 3 years.  He seriously makes me laugh.  Not like, “Ahh that’s so cute coming from a 4 year old”, but really laugh.

I have learned to see the world through a child’s eye and how much enjoyment and mystery there is in it.

Or there is the way that at 4 and 5 years old he treats his sisters.  When we talked about putting him in a room by himself, he asked us if “sissy” and he could still share the same room so he “could watch out for her and protect her at night”.  He has the same love for Esther.  All I have to say is that the guy out there that even “thinks” about messing with the Van Dyke girls will quickly change his mind when he hears the words “and this is my big brother, Gideon.”  As a father that can’t be everywhere this is very comforting.

I have learned that it is more important to look out for those we love, then to get what we want.

Or there is the way that he enjoys people.  If you ever get the chance to see Gideon play any sports you will realize, that though he is bigger then most, he could care very little about the game.  It is all about being with people.  He loves being around other people.  It was fun to watch him play soccer last season.  He pretty much laughed and smiled the whole time while running right next to the guy with the ball.

I have learned that activities and hobbies aren’t as important as the people you get to do them with.

Or take the way he has handled our move.  There has not be one moment of jealousy or struggle with the idea that he would go from being the oldest one in the house to the second oldest.  Not one moment of being uncomfortable with new brothers and sisters.  The more the merrier in his mind.  He has not once complained about not being able to be around all that he once knew.  Sure he misses his family and friends, but it doesn’t carry over into disliking the situation he is in.

I have learned a little bit more how to be content, or more like Gideon, joyous in all things even when your world is drastically changed.

Or one of my personal favorites.  The boy LOVES to eat.  Yes, he is big for his age.  Shopping for him is difficult.  He wears size 10 pants to fit his waist, yet size 10 pants are tight on his legs and backside and need to be hemmed a little for length.  We were measuring him to get him some new clothes and there is only about 2 inches different in the circumference of his thigh and mine.  He weighs like 80 pounds and is only 5 1/2, but isn’t obese.  He is pure, dense muscle.  Lifting him up is difficult.  So eating is important to him.  Now we don’t give him junk food and do try to limit the amount he eats to some extent.  The fact that he can eat as much as a 30 year old man is something we watch and we try hard to make sure food doesn’t become an idol in his life.  But in some ways I love watching him eat.  Why?  He dances.  It doesn’t matter what it is.  It doesn’t have to be ice cream or chocolate cake.  It can be carrots sticks and hummus.  He does this little dance at the table.  He doesn’t even realize he is doing it, but his head just starts bobbing around and he hands go up in the air, and he just starts humming as he is chewing.  It is priceless and secretly I hope he never stops doing it.

I have learned that dancing and excitement need to accompany us even when we get only what we need.  It is still God’s grace that has provided it.

This could easily turn into the longest blog post I ever write and there could be about a dozen more things I share about him, but just thought I would write about one of my growing heroes.


About Todd Van Dyke

Father, Husband, Son, and most of all lover of Christ.
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3 Responses to My Growing Hero

  1. Abby says:

    Todd, not sure why no one has commented on this post yet, but it is incredibly encouraging. One, because your delight in your son demonstrates a picture of our Father’s great love and delight in us. And also because you enjoy your children in a culture that typically doesn’t. Thank you for sharing your joy!

  2. Taylor says:

    This just brough an enormous smile to my face and heart! Gideon is such a special guy and I am so excited to see the many ways the Lord uses his life. Wow, I miss the VanDykes!

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