The Blog

Are You Happy Crying?

It's not often that young siblings bend over backwards to be nice to one another. You're usually more likely to find them fighting over the front seat or taking each other's things than finding ways to selflessly care for one another.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

It's not often that young siblings bend over backwards to be nice to one another. You're usually more likely to find them fighting over the front seat or taking each other's things than finding ways to selflessly care for one another.2016-03-11-1457724254-5782339-johnandsister.jpg

A video recently posted to Facebook, though, shows that there are absolutely exceptions to this "rule."

In the video, six-year-old Abigail surprises her nine-year-old brother Daniel with a hamster that she bought with her own birthday money. Daniel, who had wanted one for some time, broke down in tears after receiving the gift from his sister. Shocked by her brother's reaction, Abigail had to ask the question above.

Abigail went "All In" to show her brother how much she loved him. Abigail's selflessness for her brother reminds me of a very specific story from my childhood that involves my little sister Susan. I share this story in my book ON FIRE, and below is the excerpt:

Excerpt from On Fire: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life

Chapter 3


To truly be a hero, you've got to risk it all.

What are you willing to go All In for in life? What matters so much that you would risk everything else--your status, health, friendships, safety, even your very life?

Those who live passionate, effective lives know their answer to this.

They are transformed into heroes because they know their why.

Examples from this chapter include my brother, my sister, Lavelle, firefighters, and those in our armed forces. I want to introduce you to one more hero, one more individual who ran into the flames when everyone else was running out.

On the day I was burned, a little hero stepped forward and changed my life.

While flames continued leaping from our house, my sister Amy continued to hold and encourage me. As she told me that everything would be okay, everything would be fine, I repeated my request: Go back into the house, get a knife, and kill me. It's not okay. It's not all right. Look at what I've done.

Overhearing this life-and-death exchange was our younger sister, Susan.

She was eight, had pitch-black hair, big, puffy cheeks, an ever-present smile, and mischievous charm. I was her older brother. That means everything my older siblings did to me (think back to sandwiches laced with Tabasco sauce) that I hated them for, I would also learn from and then immediately do to Susan. Big families operate in much the same way as plumbing . . . they carry everything, everything, downstream.

Susan, come in here. I made you a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich. You'll love it!

So maybe it shouldn't have come as a surprise that when I stood in the front yard asking for a knife, little Susan didn't need to be asked twice.

This little girl left the safety and fresh air of the front yard. She turned and ran directly into our burning house. With the smoke wafting from the windows and doors, she entered the front hall. She worked her way through the family room. She made it all the way back into the kitchen.

She struggled seeing.

She had difficulty breathing.

But she knew the way.

And she knew the why.

Susan grabbed what she came in for and came sprinting back outside.

I'll never forget that moment when I stood in the front yard, held lovingly by Amy, watching our house burn, and saw my little sister sprinting out the front door.

It was like a movie.

She ran over to me, her face darkened, distorted with a grimace and tears and soot.

She stood two feet away from me.


It was in her hands.

She lunged toward me with it.

And the cup of water she held went splashing directly into my face.

I wanted to die.

Susan had just risked her life for a cup of water--begging me to live.

After she threw the first cup in my face, she turned and ran directly back into the burning house. She made it back into the kitchen, filled a second cup with water, sprinted back outside, and threw it directly into my face.

She then turned and, on January 17, 1987, ran back into our house a third time.

In scripture, Jesus reminds us, "Greater love has no one than this: than to lay down one's life for one's friends."

At age eight she was willing to do this.

We think it's a miracle that she made it back outside with a third cup of water, throwing it directly into my face.

It made all the difference.

As you learned before, I had third-degree burns from my neck to my toes. My face and scalp, however, were not burned third-degree. Some credit Susan's actions in cooling my body in those areas for alleviating additional burning. They suggest Susan saved my scalp and face from also being burned third-degree. This is critical, because not only did her actions save my face, but also my scalp, which became the donor site for my entire body over the months of surgery and skin grafts to follow.

She saved my life.

It's a stunning, true example of being guided by a purpose bigger than any excuse.

It's a poignant reminder that when you know your why, you can indeed endure any how.

And it's an invitation to decipher what truly matters in our own lives so that we too can choose to go All In.

Today is your day. Live Inspired.