Sometimes life feels so insanely busy and so incredibly unremarkable… all at the same time.
The rush rush rush to just survive the day… to get kids out the door and to school on time, to drop everything and find that thing that someone else needs right now, to make food that has actual nutritional value, and to ensure that all the financial obligations are handled properly and on time. And then there are the daily requests to give more than is comfortable, to step in and be the solution to a problem that doesn’t really affect you, to pull someone else up when they don’t have the strength, to meet the needs of others even when it slows you down, to notice pain or sadness and be able to pray for your family and friends. These things are not at all exciting, but oh so necessary. Crucial. Vital. But even more that that, they can be transformative. Even sanctifying if you give them permission.
My life, like that of many I know, feels like a yo-yo of calm and storm. A beautiful day outside doing yardwork with my 3 year old happily riding his bike in the driveway followed by an exhausting day full of commitments and frustration. While I obviously find the former to be much more personally enjoyable, I think it is the latter sort that is slowly, slowly changing my heart. As a teenager, I had some capacity for compassion and sacrifice. But over time that has grown beyond anything I could have imagined. I think becoming a parent has helped… the middle-of-the-night demands are always particularly hard to ignore… but so has spending my adult life around other people who demonstrate superhuman sacrifice on a daily basis.
Consider these examples, some of which might feel familiar to you:
A friend of mine has a “more than average” number of kids. She has also had quite a few miscarriages and complicated pregnancies. But she accepts her fertility with faith, trust, and a hope much stronger than the pain of losing babies or the fear of what might happen in the future. She mentors young moms with similar situations and encourages others by writing openly about her experiences and insight.
Another friend is asked almost daily to step in and help with various situations of need that do not affect her. Whether it is watching a dog while a family is on vacation, mothering another’s children while their mom is delivering a new baby, caring for grandparents with health issues, helping with others’ exhausting moving days or home improvement efforts, or volunteering with a variety of church ministries… she DOES. Without complaining. And often goes above and beyond to be helpful even when it complicates her own busy life.
My mother-in-law volunteers as a wedding coordinator at our church. She works hard to ensure that oblivious young couples (and oblivious older couples) have a smooth wedding day. Sometimes she has to reschedule her life to meet when they are available. Many times the bridal party are not very communicative, wait for the last minute, have unusual requests that need to be accommodated, and they don’t even remember to say thank you. But she still does her best for them. Every. Single. Time.
Quite a few of my friends have children with severe and/or complicated food allergies. They have had to, for the health of their children, become experts in making palatable meals without most of the ingredients the rest of us rely on. They research and find brands that are gluten-free, corn-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and exclude whole sections of the produce department. Often they themselves give up the foods their kids are allergic to so that the house doesn’t have dangerous food in it.
My parents brought my dying grandmother to live with them for her final few months. My mom cared for her every day, fed her, cleaned up after her, took her to the bathroom, bathed her, accompanied her to doctor appointments, handled her insurance and financial affairs, and arranged hospice care. She had to drop the bulk of her own commitments to do this for an indefinite period of time, but she did so willingly and without hesitation.
I am confident that these people would not consider themselves to be heroic in everyday life, but they are! From wikipedia:
A hero (masculine) or heroine (feminine) (Ancient Greek: ἥρως, hḗrōs) refers to characters who, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, display courage and the will for self-sacrifice—that is, heroism—for some greater good of all humanity.
By definition, they ARE heroes. Unquestionably. They take these things that might weight them down and let their faith turn them into wings. I hope they are able to remember that, especially when they feel discouraged amidst the sacrifices. I am fortunate to be around so many amazing people… their example encourages me to do better, be stronger, try harder, and go further than I ever would be able to without them. Even though I live a life of plebeian obscurity, I aspire to be that example to others in my turn, and be a real life hero even when it means wiping splattered yogurt off the cabinets, taking kids to orthodontic appointments, doing taxes, potty training a reluctant toddler, calling lonely friends, or raking someone else’s yard. We don’t need a cape to be a hero… we just need an open heart.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is true worship. - Romans 12:1