Recently I was honored to be invited to speak at a special event to raise funds for two local domestic violence agencies that work so hard to assist victims in our area. There were a few awards of recognition presented. As the humble, unpretentious manager of one of our local television stations stepped forward to receive his plaque, I was nearly brought to tears to hear him say, “It doesn’t seem right to receive an award for just doing the right thing.” Oh, if only we could all share that attitude. Rather than looking around to see who will notice our good deeds, and what is in it for us, how much better would this world be if we just did what was right? No ulterior motives, just a heart of gratitude and benevolence for our fellow man?
Following that presentation a special guest came forward to receive her due recognition. I wish I could have met Audrey Mabry. In her early 20s she was beaten in the head with a hammer, doused with kerosene and set ablaze. She shared how, with third-degree burns over 80% of her body, she prayed to God to live. That’s all she asked for… the chance to live and raise her two children. God heard her prayer and through sheer miracle, she survived. Audrey was scarred to the point of deformity, but when that brave young woman took the microphone and began to speak, it was quickly apparent she was a true hero. Like most of us survivors, although few of us have come near the injuries or pain Audrey has endured, we truly want to take the bad in our lives and somehow turn it to be used for the good of victims and survivors of domestic violence. This woman of excellence is doing a remarkable job. She is a walking testimony to hope and faith remaining, even in the most violent of situations.
After the event ended, I walked over to introduce myself to the station manager. You see, it was his station’s Emmy award-winning special on Taking Action Against Domestic Violence that turned a floodlight onto my life’s path and helped me realize I could be much more than an author of a book… I could be an active advocate working for domestic violence awareness, reaching out to victims and survivors of abuse, assault or other forms of violence. That special helped me realize there was a much greater plan and calling than I ever imagined for my life. As he shook my hand and hugged my neck, he thanked me, calling me a hero. It was an honor beyond description to even think I could be seen in that role. But, I would beg to differ with him. Audrey is a true hero. Nicole Simpson and Sheryl Laird were true heroes. I wanted to say, for myself, “It doesn’t seem right to be called a hero for just doing the right thing.”