Who doesn’t know the actor Christopher Reeve, he of the Superman movies? Although he became famous from his portrayal of Superman, he starred in numerous other movies, the most popular of which was not as Superman, but as a love-struck time traveller in “Somewhere in Time,” with the hauntingly beautiful Jane Seymour.
On May 27, 1995, Reeve became a quadriplegic after being thrown from a horse during an equestrian competition in Culpeper, Virginia. He was confined to a wheelchair and required a portable ventilator for the rest of his life.
But this did not stop him from being active. He lobbied on behalf of people with spinal cord injuries and for human embryonic stem cell research, founding the Christopher Reeve Foundation and co-founding the Reeve-Irvine Research Center. He also continued to be involved in Hollywood, directing and producing movies.
Christopher Reeve never allowed himself to wallow in misery and self-pity after his accident. He became a beacon of hope instead to disabled people everywhere, especially those afflicted with spinal cord injuries. He was a true super hero off-screen and here are three characteristics of Christopher Reeve that we can emulate in spite of what difficulties we may encounter, whether we are male or female.
The late U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.”
Nelson Mandela echoed this when he stated, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
Reeve took up the fight of spinal cord injured people. That was most important for him. His own injury propelled him to fund research to find a cure for this type of affliction. Was he fearless? I don’t think so. He once contemplated suicide. Rather, he triumphed over his fears.
Reeve did not despair. He may have fallen into depression time and again as would anyone with severe injuries. But we can safely conclude he had a healthy dose of optimism. Otherwise he would not have started projects to seek a cure for his kind of injury. You cannot start a project from a point of despair or hoplessness. Too many mistakes can be committed.
He was optimistic that his foundation and research center would eventually find a cure. In fact, even in a wheelchair, he continued to exercise to build body strength in anticipation of eventually being able to stand up and walk.
Because of his foundation and research center, countless others afflicted with spinal cord injury now have hope and can be optimistic of a cure. Of Christopher Reeve, UC Irvine said, “in the years following his injury, Christopher did more to promote research on spinal cord injury and other neurological disorders than any other person before or since.”
Even with restrictive mobility and difficulty in breathing, Christopher Reeve surged on. He continued to be involved in movie-making in front and behind the camera, winning awards along the way. He sat on the Boards of associations and organizations that help the disabled as well as on medical company Boards. He gave interviews and speeches on his advocacy.
He knew exactly what he wanted to do and set out to do them despite his handicap.
On October 10, 2004, Reeve died at the age of 52 from cardiac arrest. But his legacy lives on. The research center he co-founded is now one of the leading spinal cord research centers in the world. Many disabled people can now walk again because of the work of his research center.
Christopher Reeve was a superman in more ways than his movie role. We may not be able to do the immense work that Christopher Reeve did in his lifetime. But, as long as we are courageous, optimistic and self-determined, we can be heroes in our own right.
If you like this article, kindly comment below and share.
The Book of Joshua doesn’t speak about stress nor about being stress-free. But it talks about prosperity in an emphatic way.
Then you will be prosperous and successful. -Joshua 1:8
It was a promise made by God to Joshua and his people. Prosperity and success was theirs for the taking. And if we read the rest of the text that leads to that promise, we’ll discover that God set forth conditions that would allow them to claim that promise. But they were not stressful conditions. They were, in contrast, stress-free. Let us examine them.
…Get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them–to the Israelites. -Joshua 1:2
Getting ready is actually about having a healthy dose of optimism. Quell your fears, quell your worries, for they can only bring stress. Fear and worry are useless emotions. Joshua was given a vision of conquest. God was in essence saying, “Now go for it!”
What is your vision of life? Is it fraught with doubts? That’s not vision; that’s myopism. Your vision will consist of what you already have by way of talents and gifts and the self-determination to use them wisely.
When God told Joshua to be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:6), we understand strong to be an act of the heart, while courageous to be an act of the mind. We cannot allow our heart and mind to go different paths. While we build inner strength, we must also cast out doubts that lead to fear. We must not overthink and rationalize ourselves to immobility. Claiming success and prosperity must be done holistically with the full confidence and assuredness that we will.
Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. -Joshua 1:7
In this instance it’s to be focused on the word of God, for what better instructional manual about life is there than the Bible?
It is in the Bible where we can find the source of inner strength and the courage to gird up the loins of your mind (1 Peter 1:13). This doesn’t mean that we cannot read any other books; but rather the Bible must take supreme authority over everything else. After all, God is the God of success and prosperity.
Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. -Joshua 1:8
To meditate is to replace our thoughts with the word of God. Our minds are constantly filled with thoughts, at times mostly negative. Thus it’s our thoughts that can bring stress. But we must first create the environment of meditation and that is to spend time in quietude.
Be still, and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10) is a worthwhile command. When we talk about “quiet time.” It’s not just to shut up, but to shut up the world around us.
The first chapter of Joshua doesn’t say this, but it goes without saying. The essence of prayer is not asking God what you want or need, but to align ourselves with the will of God. Why stress ourselves out by striving for success and prosperity? God already has success and prosperity lined up for us. Align with his will and we’ll have it!
When King David began the trek to bring the Ark of the Covenant up Mt. Zion, he stripped himself of his outer clothing, put on a linen ephod and “danced with all his might” in celebration.
As he approached the city, his wife Michal saw him and was scandalized by his actions.
When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!” -2 Samuel 6:20
And how did David answer?
David said to Michal, “It was before the LORD, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD’s people Israel–I will celebrate before the LORD. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.” -2 Samuel 6:21-22
For Michal, David wasn’t acting in a royal fashion (pun intended). This is because he was before God, the greatest of all kings. David did not place importance in himself. He placed importance on God. If dignity meant placing himself at the level or even above God, David would have none of it.
David wore a linen ephod showing himself to be a priest first and foremost, one who serves God and his fellowmen. Jesus Christ, who was his descendant, would echo the same sentiment.
“…Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” -Matthew 20:28
David stripped himself of being honored as king; honoring instead the One who ordained him king. He celebrated, not his ascension to the throne, but the ascension of the Ark of the Covenant, the manifest presence of God. He praised not himself, but the One who was worthy of all praise.
He would not take the glory for himself. He would give it all to God the almighty.
Dignity is not about who you are. It’s about who God is in your life.