We all want a hero.
I grew up on a diet of popcorn and stories and the days my mom took me out of school to go to the movies were the ones I learned to fly.
Stories are still my safe place.
We all want a hero to stand on a stage or a white horse or a battlefield or a football field or a bridge and declare to the darkness, “you shall not pass.”
We want to believe in courage bigger than us and the role models willing to leave their footprints behind for us to tentatively step into.
Prophets and rock stars, preachers and teachers and bloggers and poets. We want them to pour their words and point their lives like warning signs to the tired who come behind all bended over with our ordinary and expecting that others will triumph so that we can live in awe.
My backyard is a mess.
My kids bicker.
For hours on Sunday morning before church my boys bicker and snipe and snap and throw toys and knock down each others’ towers. Until I want to banish them both to the far corners of the earth or at least this small house. Until I want to shake them and yell, “can you not see how good you have it?”
I am brimming over with clichés and temper and I calmly stay in the bedroom married to my mascara brush and focus on slowly, slowly just applying the gentle strokes and breathing.
Zoe is pretty in pink and yellow next to me and wants to hold my hand.
I keep breathing.
We want heroes with grand lives to sweep us up into their stories and propel us out to save the world through their endeavors while we stay home and fold the boring laundry.
I hurt when we get home from church. I hurt because one kids pushes the other kid’s buttons for the 45th time and I hold him in a death grip on his arm and look him dead center and tell him straight through the heart how unacceptable this ugliness is. Like so much tar leaving sticky, bilious tracks through our day.
It’s gorgeous out. 70 degrees in October.
And what if we are the heroes we are waiting for?
What if we can change and mold and challenge and fight back the darkness from our own corner of the Kingdom.
What if ordinary is heroic?
Most heroes I know wear jeans and T-Shirts most days and fight fevers more than Hercules.
Most heroes I know don’t have or care about blog platforms or their readership. They are too busy figuring out how to love their kids through a meltdown.
Most heroes I know are sitting right there in the pew behind us with their broken down daughters, their aging parents, their newborns who won’t sleep through the night, their singing off key.
Most heroes I know are so ordinary we wouldn’t give them a second glance in the check out line. They reek of homework and figuring out the taxes and how to squeeze a date night into another crazy week of car pool and sports and getting one more stain out of the carpet.
Most heroes I know are brave because they keep going in the face of their overwhelming fears, their worries, the voices in their heads that tell them they aren’t good enough, diligent enough, calm enough, prepared enough, or any other enough that can spit up out of the “perfect-o-meter.”
Eight women spend a morning cooking food for the friend who’s house was trashed by a hurricane, for the single parent who doesn’t have enough, for the family who will likely knock on the church door tomorrow.
My friend Instagrams her toilet bowl and brush and that photo of her service to her family in the corner of the world she is rooted is more powerful than any I’ve seen of her up on stage.
There is no showmanship in heroism. There is just the next thing. Sometimes that thing might feel small – like helping your kid with his math homework. And sometimes it might feel big – like standing on a stage, or writing a book, or helping build a school or raising a million dollars or hosting a global webcast. But my guess is heaven uses a very different yard stick than we do.
So keep on you.
Yes you. The one up to your elbows in what feels like ordinary.