By Rev. Dallas Teague Snider
Photo by Liesa Cole
Imagine you have worked all day and just before you are about to go home for evening, you decide to stop for a much deserved cup of coffee. That’s just what Rodre’ L. Seals was doing when he was faced with a life or death situation in an everyday moment. As a second lieutenant in the Alabama Army National Guard, he is trained to protect and serve. But at this moment he was off-duty as civilian security officer for the Sheraton Hotel downtown—faced with a chance to reach out to a fellow citizen facing a personal war within.
As a group of young people began to gather in the area outside the hotel lobby coffee shop, Seals noticed they were all looking up and chanting “Jump, jump, jump!” Aware something was not quite right, he looked up and noticed someone leaning over the edge looking down, beginning to step off the ledge and possibly jump in any minute. Could this really be happening? Could this be a joke? It was not.
Shocked at what he was seeing and hearing, Seals hopped on the elevator, hoping he wouldn’t be too late. When the elevator came to a stop, he realized he was on the wrong floor and needed to go up one more. As the doors of the elevator opened, this time on the right floor, the gentleman he had seen was startled and stepped down from the ledge. Seals didn’t know what to do, but he knew that he was there for a reason.
As they began to talk, Seals discovered that this guest was so distraught and hopeless that he thought taking his life was the only way. Sitting side by side along the corridor, Seals was not there as an employee or to judge in anyway, he was there as someone who cared, a light for someone in need.
When I learned of his story, I wanted to know more. What made him respond with such compassion and love for someone he didn’t know? Why didn’t he just get his coffee and head home to his family? What made him think love first and step outside his comfort zone? I asked him, and what follows is a peek into the mind of this month’s City Lights everyday hero.
Are there any particular challenges you faced or experience that changed your perspective to consider others and make a difference?
I always heard the phrase, “If you don’t like the circumstances, change the outcome.” Growing up, I was a bit curious about a different life for me—a change from the life that consisted of stealing from local stores, selling drugs, being involved in fights that even lead to my cousin and I being shot at. This was a life that wasn’t for me. I came to my senses of how blessed I was to have great parents, great role models, and young kids back home in Talladega, looking forward to seeing my success. I realized that my life is much more then what the enemy was telling me I was worth. I didn’t like my circumstances, so I changed my outcome.
Describe what you do in your unique way to impact the lives of others.
Over the years, I have surrounded myself around great motivational speakers and outstanding leaders. Those individuals helped guide me toward my purpose in life. I feel like my purpose in life is to also help others find their purpose in life. I have recently started an organization called Heavenly Father & Ambition. The purpose for this organization is to uplift, motivate, educate, and create future leaders of tomorrow.
What are you thoughts about how to think love first?
Before you can have a passion for something, you must first love it. Before you waste your time and energy to take care or provide for anyone, you must first love them. Love is something that is not thought about or taken for granted. It is an unseen emotion that God has put in each and every individual.
Rev. Dallas Teague Snider, Mrs. Petite America 2016, is an author, speaker, and spiritual life coach on a mission to highlight real people making a real difference. As the founder and visionary behind the movement Think LOVE First!, her goal is to usher in a love revolution and culture of respect for our differences and an awareness of our common traits as human beings.
Her column City Lights will highlight stories of local individuals doing what they can in their everyday lives to make a difference in our community. It’s her hope that each heart that chooses to #ThinkLoveFirst will counteract the negativity, disrespect, and darkness that seems to take center stage in today’s world.
Think LOVE First! is an initiative for nonprofit organization Purpose Without Limits, which offers personal and professional coaching, prayer ministry, and retreats. For more visit thinklovefirst.org.