A few years ago, our oldest daughter was going through the challenging post-partum days after having her first child. The emotions. The hormones, The sleeplessness. The uncertainties. The discomforts. The fears. Am I doing this right? What does that mean? What if I do it wrong? Why is he still crying? How do I know if he’s sick? Yeah, having a baby is a big deal. I distinctly remember my wife grabbing her hand at one point and saying, “Don’t worry Mads, you’ve got this. Mommies have superpowers.”
I have always been struck by how much was in those few words and the impact of the word “superpowers.” The amazing process of healing and recovery within her own body, her nurturing instincts, the beautifully symbiotic design of mother and child, and our daughter’s own strengths as a human being were captured in the word “superpowers.” It was a gentle and compelling reminder of our daughter’s gifts and capacity to manage through the challenges.
Let’s face it, we all underestimate ourselves on some level. We all doubt. We all fear. We all second guess. Sure, we may cover it with bluster, aggression, intellectual superiority, self-righteousness, or any of a host of other feints but the reality of our fragile humanity still hides just beneath. We frequently forget the awesome power that lies within each of us and we live in a world that seems to relish our doubts.
Let’s do a quick check of our systems and resources available to us.
First of all, we possess amazing physical capabilities. Often taken for granted, the basic things we do all day are really astounding feats of physics. Walking, chewing, moving our arms, grabbing something in our hands, speaking, looking, smelling, tasting, and feeling are really amazing if you stop for a moment and consider them. From there, we might move on to running, jumping, throwing. Taken to our highest level, we physically build, move, design, and even cure. But I get ahead of myself. Even when we are limited, move slowly, or hurt from some ailment, our physical capacities are truly miraculous.
Second, consider your mind. Have you have thought about your ability to think? Your brain is an astounding creation and we take it for granted every day. Waking up, you look around and process all that you see: light, dark, cloudy, sunny, colors, and even things that are in or our of place. You mentally assess everything around you, constantly. You remember. You think ahead. You plan. You hope. You dream. You calculate. You react. And while you have all of that active work going on in your brain, it is passively managing all of the systems of your body: breathing, heartbeat, digestion, sensation, etc. I can hardly get my head around all that my brain is doing and the power of my ability to think. Astounding.
And we’re just getting started. Having identified your baseline superpowers, we now move to your other gifts. Are you able to read and write? Can you cook? Some of us can draw or play a musical instrument. Some can speak more than one language. Perhaps you can run really fast or throw a ball really far or jump really high. Alas, we tend to spend more time considering what we can’t do but when we stop for a moment and consider it, the list of what we can do is pretty amazing. Many of us drive a car and some of us pilot machines that actually fly through the air. These are all superpowers and we’re really just getting started on the list.
Consider how you function in your life. You can make choices. You can make complex plans. You can succeed or fail in the pursuit of those plans. You can be good. You can be evil. You can help or you can hurt. You can choose to believe or not to believe information you receive. You might even believe in things you cannot see and choose to live a certain way based on that belief. You can contemplate your own situation and the situation of others. You can be courageous in the face of danger or you can be craven in how you deal with others. You can influence other people. You can inspire or you can discourage. Now, we’re talking about real power.
Regardless of the scope or scale of your physical and mental gifts, they are your superpowers; and they are super. Now that we’ve recognized them, what do we do with them? With great power comes great responsibility.
Some of us will be leaders. Some of us will be creators. Some of us will be workers. Some of us will be healers. Some of us will be thinkers. Some of us will teachers. Some of us will regulate. Some of us will police. Some of us will argue. All of us will doubt. All of us will struggle. All of us are in it together. All of us are responsible for what we choose to do with the superpowers we’ve been given.
The Hero of Your Story
You see, you are the hero of your own story. You have been given a set of capabilities and placed somewhere in this world to find your way. Will you use your powers for good or for ill? Will you squander them or will you make them fruitful? Yes, it is a big responsibility. All the while, others are watching. Your very existence is an example to someone else. Perhaps you don’t want it that way. Perhaps it feels like too much responsibility. Perhaps you don’t want to be the hero. Perhaps the fear and doubt and reluctance feel like a warm, comfortable blanket that insulates you with their familiarity. Perhaps.
But fear is not where you are meant to exist. Doubt is not your destiny. You have far too much possibility. You are made for more. You owe it to yourself, and to the world, to bring your powers to bear in the best way you possibly can. It is your duty.
Maybe you think I’m being simple and dramatic. As I write this, the COVID-19 pandemic rages on and we face another contentious national election. Concerns exist over the physical health of our citizens but an even bigger concern is over the mental well-being our population. Much of the country expects this election to solve many of these problem. It won’t.
Why? Doubt will always be there. COVID-19 may or may not hang around but there will be something to take its place. Our country will be divided on many things, regardless of its elected officials. It has always been that way. The government won’t help you to identify, develop, and engage your superpowers. Unfortunately, much of it seems intent upon convincing you that you don’t have them and that you need a program, law, or ruling to make your life better. In spite of that, there is good news.
You are the hero of your story and you are part of the stories of those around you. They are watching. Your choices inspire or discourage. We know you have superpowers. How are you choosing to use them? Are you waiting for someone to give you permission to be your best? Are you taking responsibility for your life as it is and moving it toward how you want it to be? Are you taking others along with you? We get discouraged when we feel helpless. You are not helpless.
Last night, I watched as kids dressed up as super heroes walked around our neighborhood celebrating Halloween. I wonder if “Gecko Boy” or “Wonder Woman” or “Harry Potter” ever felt doubt in their own stories. Of course they did. Without the doubt and uncertainty, there would have been nothing to overcome and no opportunity to use their superpowers. Without those challenges, there would have been no story to tell.
You have superpowers. You can be a force for good. You don’t have to wait and you don’t have to fear. When you feel doubt, feel it for just a moment, then push forward. When you feel discouraged, feel it for a moment, then choose to believe in something more than yourself. When you feel uncertain about the future, shake it off and focus on the certainties of today. You are not alone. We’re cheering you along, fighting with you in the same battle.
Beautifully stated Phil!
Analogies that are so relevant. Well put Phillip!
Nice piece Phillip