Late one night a man is crawling into bed after a long hard day. He is weary. Not just tired, weary. In his soul, his body and his bones. There are times, these days, when there aren’t words in existence that can unburden the heaviness of his heart and the best he can do is to drag himself before the thrown of God and ache at the feet of the Father. Just as his eyes are closing and his body is unclenching from the stress of trying to carry the unbearable all day he hears it. It’s the sound of his wife’s voice coming from the hospital bed across the room from him. She’s sick, possibly dying, he’s not sure because he can’t fathom that being the reality he’s living, and yet… She’s weak, her voice isn’t much more than a whisper, but she’s calling him. A rush of a emotion floods his body. Anger. Frustration. Pain. He is almost overcome by the desire to scream or cry. His love for her is undeniable, but right now he’s not only sleep deprived he’s peace deprived and he only wants a few hours of rest. What could she possibly need -now-? He steals himself against the anguish he feels and with cool resolve pulls himself out of the warmth of his bed and goes to her side. As soon as he’s there she raises a fragile arm and motions for him to come closer. He locks his jaw and leans in, ready to hear whatever it she wants him to do and anxious to get it over with so he can get back to bed. She waits until he’s close enough that she can be sure he hears the words and then she whispers, “You know you’re my hero, don’t you?
These words are more than the soul can bear in a moment when nerves are so excruciatingly raw and body and mind are so completely spent, but they are priceless. Utterly and unquestioningly priceless. Dear God, oh how we love you! You are the God who makes heros out of us when we are at our weakest, when we hang on by a thread, when we are at the end of our ropes, and when we are broken to bits. It is only Your great and limitless love for us that has the power to, even in our imperfection, use us for good.”
I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a hero lately. There have been two occasions with friends of mine recently where being a “hero” was dangled in front of them like a carrot, “You could be a hero of you would […just do this thing we all want you to]. Forgetting that this kind of thinking completely discounts the many people to whom the people in question may already be a hero to, is this really how we think a hero is made? Does one really set out to be a hero? Are you really a hero if you’ve accepted a bribe to become one? Hm. I was curious about what people thought of when they heard the world hero, so I asked my Facebook friends to tell me in comments what the word hero made them think of. The answers were both entertaining and good. The covered everything from Mariah Carry to Batman ( which, interestingly, was the only “superhero” that got mentioned). Many agreed that a hero is someone we look up to and aspire to be like, people who are fearless and selfless and full of courage. My friend Sarah hit the spot I had been thinking towards, however, when she mentioned that a hero never sets out to be one. Yes. That exactly.
I think our culture has created a bad habit of confusing heroism with celebrity and that’s not ok. We appeal to people’s desire to want to be the center of attention, to want to be praised and admired and a lot of the time we succeed in getting them to do what we want them to hoping for fame as a result. We have men and women in this country who are getting up every day and selflessly serving others… even when they don’t feel like it, and mostly without any form of recognition for it. No one sees the people of the world who sit with the sick and the dying, who hold open doors for the handicapped, who park further away from the grocery store doors so that the mother with small children has less trouble getting in and out. We dont notice or often appreciate the people who pick up our trash, clean off our tables and serve our coffee, and some of them are doing that to keep food in the bellies of the little people who definitely consider them to be heros. When I think of the word hero, I think of the story at the beginning of this post. The man and women from that story are my parents and the scene described happened not long before my Mom came face to face with Jesus several Septembers ago. My Dad is not a famous man, he’s never chased after the dream of being the center of attention, but he is a hero– He was one to my Mom and he is one to my siblings and I. There are a lot of heros in the world who are like my Dad, who get up every day and do what they must and it matters to those it effects. It means the world to them. To us. Let’s not do those people and ourselves the injustice of calling celebrity heroism and using it as a bribe. Let’s be careful not to desire to be those types of “heros” ourselves.