Nothing can dim the light which shines from within. – Maya Angelou
Have you seen those superpower t-shirts? They say something like “I’m a teacher. What’s your superpower?” Or “Growing stuff is my superpower. What’s yours?” Or “Coffee is my superpower.” Then there are all those superhero movies that have come out over the last few years. Each hero has their own unique set of powers that they wield against some archenemy.
It’s no wonder we’ve become caught up with the idea of having superpowers. I’ve said this before; if I had a superpower, it would be to fly. Why? Because I dislike road trips. Not just a little – exceedingly dislike. I would much rather fly to where I want to go and be done with it. Driving for long distances is not only boring to me but, is also a complete waste of time in my humble opinion. Therefore if I had the ability to just leap into the air and fly to my destination – Great! No problemo! I’ll be there in a jiffy. Flying to other countries or tropical destinations? Aloha! Not only would flying save on time but it would be cost-effective, too. It would save on airfare, gas, lodging, etc. Luggage? Psh. You go shopping when you get there, hel-lo?! How is this a bad plan?
Well clearly I can’t fly and I’m pretty sure you can’t see through walls (maybe that’s a blessing in disguise; I’m just sayin’) but in reality, we do possess superpowers. No, really we do.
I recently read the book StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath and Gallup. The premise is that each of us possess a set of strengths – natural talents, skills and knowledge (born-with-it traits) – that if we were to operate and function from those strengths, we would perform at near-perfect efficacy every time. Furthermore, we would experience a greater sense of happiness and satisfaction with our lives. Unfortunately we don’t necessarily know our strengths. Most of the time we focus on our weaknesses (consider all the self-help resources out there) and all the ways we aren’t. We end up spending a lot of our energy focusing on how to overcome our weaknesses, attempting to turn them into strengths but generally to no avail. Usually it’s because we try to function in ways we weren’t designed.
For instance, math is not my forte. Oh I can add, subtract, divide and multiple just fine and I know enough about Excel to be dangerous, but if you tell me I need to do an algorithm, I can’t do it much less spell it (I had to look it up…a.l.g.o.r.i.t.h.m.). Math is not my jam. I struggled with it all through school. It makes little-to-no sense to me. You can explain it to me every which way ’til Sunday, but I still may not get it. But if you give me some elaborate word like pulchritudinous and tell me to use it correctly in a sentence, I’m all over it like white on rice. Not only will I know how to spell it, use it in a sentence, but I will know the etymology of it, and most likely will start using it in my every day verbiage. I love words! They speak to me (ahem). Words aren’t just my jam, they’re my marmalade. Turns out, that’s a strength for me. Math – weakness. Words – strength. So then why in the Sam Hill would I ever pick a job or do things that require me to do math? Answer – I wouldn’t. I would avoid them like the plague.
Discovering my core strengths was a real eye opener. I learned things about myself that I hadn’t really considered before. Kind of like Superman discovering he had all these great powers only after finding out who he really was. He knew he was different. He knew he could do certain things naturally but until his ‘space dad’, Jor-El, told him who he really was, he had no true idea. Same thing here. I had ideas of what I could. I gravitated toward certain things; could do certain things naturally; things that were simple for me, but I didn’t really consider those to be strengths that I could capitalize on until I read the book and took the assessment. (By the way, my comments and opinions about this book are all my own. I am not receiving any compensation for them).
Not only did I get affirmation about my natural strengths, I realized that these are my true superpowers. Superpowers are God-given talents, skills and knowledge that God, Himself, has graciously endowed each of us with. He hardwired us in these ways so that we will have fulfillment, purpose and joy in our lives. Otherwise, we’d be nothing but a bunch of mindless dolts aimlessly wandering throughout life for no other reason than to breathe air. No, God loved us much more than that and declared that we have intrinsic value by bestowing His gifts to us – our superpowers, our strengths. I don’t know about you, but I am grateful God values me and decided I was worth receiving His gifts. I, of course, don’t want to let Him down by squandering that which He has given. It’s up to me to use those superpowers for the benefit of others. Because just like a superhero, what would be the point of a superpower if you don’t use it to help others? If you selfishly keep it to yourself, it will wither and rot.
Now, that’s not say that we should ignore our weaknesses or act like they don’t exist. On the contrary, we need to keep a weather eye on them but realize that not all weaknesses can be turned into strengths. If we didn’t have some weaknesses, then we wouldn’t need God in our lives. His strength is made great in our weakness. In other words, when we rely on Him in our weakness, He can be the Hero of our story. He can swoop in on an eagle or a white stallion to save the day for us, because, let’s face it, we all need a hero (just ask Bonnie Tyler – lol). We all need saving. And that’s OK. God is greater than anyone or anything we can encounter.
We weren’t put on this earth for our own gain. We were put here to be a blessing. Each of us – you, me – we all have strengths to help one another. Where I have weaknesses, you may be strong and where you are weak, I may have strength. So we can lean on one another, encourage one another, build up one another, not for our glory but for God’s.
Jesus said for us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Love is strength, my friend. (Psst – it’s a superpower). Probably one of the hardest things for someone to do is love themselves. Why? Because they’re usually so focused on what they think is ‘wrong’ with themselves that they can’t see what’s right. Hence, they can’t love others for the same reason. But love doesn’t keep track of wrongs. It’s not prideful, boastful or envious. It’s patient and kind. Love isn’t dishonoring or easily angered. Love revels in the truth. Love is selfless. It’s protective; it trusts; it hopes and perseveres. Love. Never. Fails. And if we can love ourselves, then we can love those around us. Not with an intimate kind of love but with patience and kindness, civility, trust, hope, selflessness, and forgiveness.
There’s just one caveat to our superpowers. Too much of a strength can become a weakness. For instance, showing love to someone by not keeping a laundry list of their wrongs is a good thing (it’s a Martha Stewart thing). But when we turn a blind eye towards bad or destructive behavior, it’s no longer love. It’s enabling. We distort love’s true power. So it’s important to keep our superpowers balanced.
So my fellow superhero, what are your superpowers? Not sure? Try something like StrengthsFinder 2.0. Or maybe write down things you have a natural knack for doing, your passions; things that come easy for you. More than likely those are your strengths. And remember, no two superheros are alike. You don’t have to be like anyone else; you’re not supposed to be. You’re meant to be exactly as God intended – precious in His sight.
P.S. The bride was nothing short of a pulchritudinous vision as she walked down the aisle.
Pulchritudinous means physically beautiful and is from the Latin pulchritudino meaning “beauty”.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.Love never fails. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:30-31
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. – Philippians 4:13
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. – Isaiah 40:29
…but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. – Isaiah 40:31
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. – Ephesians 2:10
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. – James 1:17
Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank. – Proverbs 22:29
…and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills… – Exodus 31:3
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. – 1 Peter 4:10-11