A lot of us spent our childhoods reading comic books and playing superheroes – Superman, the Avengers, Captain America, Spiderman, Batgirl, Thor, the Fantastic Four. Maybe you still occasionally don a cape and mask but probably best to keep that your little secret.
A peanut butter sandwich, some Tang, and a stack of comic books and we were set for the day.
Life’s biggest mysteries involved dilemmas like, “Who would win in a fight: the Hulk or the Thing?” “Why don’t Batman and Superman ever get tangled in their cape?” “Why does Superman leap over tall buildings when he can fly?” “Why does Robin wear tights and sound like a girl?”
Just for kicks I recently took an online superhero quiz. I was thinking my score would probably cast me as the Silver Surfer or Dare Devil or maybe the Flash. Secretly I hoped it would reveal I was most like Batman.
No such luck. It said I was most like the Green Lantern; a now 75-year old superhero who wears green tights and a magic ring. Ruined my week.
As kids we were superheroes. We had hideouts and headquarters, imagined costumes and superpowers. We knew our world (our neighborhood) like the back of our hand. We were heroes, we were defenders of good and justice and the American way. And on occasion we saved the world.
We lived with passion and spontaneity and wonder and clarity. We played, we dreamed, and we lived.
But the older we got the more complex life seemed to become. The older we got the harder the questions. The older we got the more unclear the answers.
Such that now, decades later, we lie awake nights wondering how in the world it’s possible to grow up, survive twenty years of education, choose a career, get married, have kids, accumulate lots of stuff, work for decades, and never really enjoy life as much as we did when we were eight or nine?
Eugene Peterson writes, “The puzzle is why so many people live so badly. Not so wickedly, but so inanely. Not so cruelly, but so stupidly. There is little to admire and less to imitate in the people who are prominent in our culture. We have celebrities but not saints. Famous entertainers amuse a nation of bored insomniacs. People, aimless and bored, amuse themselves with trivia and trash. Neither the adventure of goodness nor the pursuit of righteousness gets headlines.”
These days most of us live nothing even remotely resembling a superheroes’ life. The closest we come to being a hero is unscrewing the top off the jelly jar in front of the kids.
Somewhere along the way we lost our way. Somewhere along life’s journey we began to live reactively to our circumstances rather than proactively toward who God created us to be.
Maybe you’re not a superhero. Maybe you can’t leap tall buildings, dodge bullets, or travel to other galaxies. But don’t ever let anyone convince you that you’re not unique and special and irreplaceable.
You’re one of a kind and the world needs you and all you have to offer. Be the best YOU you can be!