I have the privilege of working with a whole bunch of really nice, really diverse colleagues. One of my closest friends at work is old enough to be my mother, (well maybe just an aunt) but she feels so motherly that many of us think of her that way. She spends everyday after work visiting her own mother, who is suffering from Alzheimer's, and helping her elderly dad and the nursing staff with anything needed. In her limited spare time between these two "jobs", she babysits her grandkids to allow her son and his wife to go on dates, go grocery shopping alone, or even just to have a break. She might think that what she's doing is just "being a mom/daughter/grandma" but I think she's heroic.
Another one of my coworkers spends her Friday nights taking care of her mother, who has MS, so that her father can get one night out per week as he is otherwise completely devoted to caring for his wife. They don't complain, they just do what's necessary for someone they love. Again, heroic, both my friend and her dad.
One of our teachers has a wife that also has MS, and takes care of her so lovingly that it makes me cry to see them together. I recently watched him place her into the car from her wheelchair and give her a kiss on the cheek, and the tender love that he bestows upon his wife is just, well, heroic! What other word describes a love like that?
Another teacher, who has remained single for her life, pours so much time and energy into the mission trips that our high school students can participate in. She plans and travels to Honduras or Africa, bringing along doctors and medical care to the most helpless among us. She opens students' eyes with what poverty really looks like, and yet shows them how much joy these people have for the simplest of things in life, like good health. Sure, she is able to give of her free time to a great cause like this because she is not caring for her own family, but she doesn't have to. Heroic.
So many people around us are constantly putting the welfare of somebody else before their own, and we may not even know or notice what they're doing, but it's still heroism in the ordinary days. Dying to self is necessary for the sacrificial love of others. No matter how small the deaths are, no matter how ungrateful the recipients may be, no matter if anyone see it at all...God knows. He sees your life-giving sacrifices, He recognizes your brave and kind acts, and His opinion is the only one that matters anyway.
And if you're a parent? Boom! Instant superhero status. Every action of every day is made with thought of putting a little life ahead of yours. Look around at all the moms and dads who give up their own dreams to make their kids' dreams a reality. Parents who work multiple jobs to support and feed their families. Brave moms who defend and advocate. Brave dads who protect and play. Grandparents who help out their kids and grandkids even though these are their golden years and they've already "put in their time". For the million wake up calls in the middle of the night, for all games watched and lessons given, and for every meal planned out and cooked - it's all done unselfishly for the love of our children. Parents have multiple opportunities to die to ourselves everyday, all for love of another.
So a very Happy (almost) Mother's Day to all the ordinary heroines around us. We quite literally couldn't survive without you. Don't give up in the mundane, repetitive, ordinariness of it all, that's what makes you a saint...Heaven's heroes!