It is an impressive group…including the likes of Elizabeth Elliot, Amy Carmichael, Elisabeth Scott Stam, and Gladys Aylward. These were the heroes of my single years. I dreamed of being like these ladies. I imagined myself in various scenarios like jungle huts, orphan asylums, ministry to other women, and maybe even writing a book to chronicle my adventures. These women made a difference in the world, an obvious difference. Echoes of their lives lived in consecration to God still ring in the hearts of many.
Something happened, however, after I was married with children. My heroes changed. I don’t know when exactly, but at some point I began to look around me at women in my church. Women whom I would have respected, but not thought of as “heroic”. But now, now that I am doing what I am doing, and realizing how hard it is to do well, I view them differently. At the top of my list is my mother. Now I know how she laid down her life for our family each and every day for many years. My new heroes are my friend Kathleen who with three children three years old and younger, patiently cared for them day and night for years while her husband finished an advanced degree. She did it with little complaint. She did it well. Then there is my other friend Kathy who with as much savvy as any CEO creatively runs her house on a limited budget to release her husband to pursue full-time ministry even though it meant a cut in pay. There are other friends who live with chronic aches and pains, yet still do housework and care for their toddler in spite of the pain. The newest additions to my list of heroes are the homeschool moms. One of them homeschools children in high school, junior high, and elementary school, with a toddler under foot as well. Another has homeschooled long enough to graduate two children. The list of heroes is ever growing.
What I find heroic about these women is that their lives are composed of hundreds of choices to either obey God and glorify Him, in the mundane, or live life for themselves. These are simple choices in most cases, but hard choices, redundant choices, and unappreciated choices. They don’t make one huge grand decision that lands them in a hut in Africa, they choose to get up and make breakfast. They choose to do laundry. They choose to lovingly correct a child. They choose to give baths before bedtime, tell a story, sing a song. They choose to teach a disrespectful 15 year old who would rather go to school. They live their lives primarily for others.
This is not to say that the heroes of my single years have become any less heroic. But it is to say that I now understand that even their lives that seemed so deliciously radical were composed of the mundane choices of life as well. They were able to do big things well because they faithfully did the little things well. Perhaps this is not a redefining of heroes as much as it is the redefining of heroic.
To all of you ordinary heroes out there (the 3 who actually read this blog), I want you to know I think you are extraordinary! Oh how the grace of God is exquisitely displayed in your lives. I also want to remind you that even though what you do is done in complete anonymity, there is One who sees it all. How pleased He must be.