I have occasionally been volunteering at CareNet, a truly awesome organization that helps mothers and expectant mothers in our community. (And if you want to know more about them, here is a link to their web-page.) I mention this to give background for some thoughts I had.
Not long ago I was watering plants around the center. It was sunny but not sweltering, with lovely shade trees. I really enjoyed being outside. Now here's the thing; when I was younger it would have bothered me to be watering plants instead of doing Something Important. As a kid I was all fierce and passionate and disappointed that there weren't dragons and ogres in the Appalachians for me to ride out and slay. (All great adventure stories happen in the Appalachians. When Tolkien wrote about the Misty Mountains, he was talking about the Appalachians. Even though he was English and probably never saw them. Seriously. Logic does not apply here. It was the Appalachians.)
God really had to work on me about my gung-ho nature. I'd keep trying to charge forward, and God would haul me back, and I'd say `what's wrong with you, God? I'm supposed to be doing Important Things! Why won't you let me get with the program here?' I'd grumble and glower until the next time I could jump at a chance to have an adventure, only for God to grab me by the collar again, the way my brother grabs a stubborn goat when she sees something she thinks is food. (Like rose bushes.)
I probably missed a lot of chances to make a difference because I was too busy wishing for a Chance to Make a Difference. It's really ironic. It's also something I'll probably always struggle with. There will always be a piece of me that wants to be the one who blows up the death star and gets the medal in front of a huge crowd.
It's a funny thing about heroics. In real life, they creep up on you. I'm thinking now about my mom, who is hanging out at the hospital with dad right now, and doesn't know she's being heroic at all. And thinking about myself, and the things I've been doing lately because dad's sick that I wouldn't have even imagined myself doing three years ago.
I guess the times that people are most useful -maybe even most heroic- is when they're not thinking about being heroes at all.