No, I'm not referring to that "save the cheerleader" nonsense. I'm talking about straight up, everyday heroes in our lives. Personally, I have several that I can name off the top of my head, and with time, I'm certain I could fill a book with the names of all the people who inspire me, the people I genuinely look up to.
Often, my view of those heroes is highly romanticized. So much so, that I tend to forget that they are, with the exception of Jesus Christ Himself, humans much like myself. They have flaws and weaknesses, and they can, they will screw up from time to time. Unfortunately for them, their mistakes carry a far heavier price. They affect every single person who ever looked up to them, and any personal shame is amplified on a public scale.
It's happened recently, and it's happened to me, to one of my heroes. But something was different this time. Something clicked, and I think I now know what makes a hero.
For one of the few times in my life, I wasn't ashamed or disappointed of his shortcoming. I was so proud and inspired by the determination and the integrity I witnessed in him to make it right.
I learned that the true test of a hero is not how he acts when he's at the peak of his game and not how he lives when his life is going great. It's those crappy times full of depression and uncertainty, the times when everyone else has given up on them, the times when they truly can't see even the slightest glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.
THAT is when a hero's integrity is tested.