What is Your Super Power?
Which of our abilities makes us super heroes? What is our super power?
Are we faster than speeding bullets? More powerful than locomotives? Can we leap tall buildings in a single bound?
We might not have the combination of powers which would make us Superman. Each of us does have our own unique mixture of core values and passion which helps us become our true selves. We can do something better than anyone else. Each of us has the unique ability to inhabit our true selves and share ourselves with the world in ways no one else can.
I know people who would love to be Superman or Spiderman, Sherlock Holmes or Harry Potter. Their lives are focused on becoming someone else. They dream of the day they will finally be complete, when they will take on the secret identity of their inner heroes.
Other people have a picture in their minds, or hearts, of the spiritual life they expect to have.
It seems we believe if we work hard enough, or believe strongly enough, spiritual life will be our super power. We commit ourselves to specific practices which we hope will cause our hidden super powers to become evident. Our intention is to develop spiritual muscles through regular exercise.
We seem to be convinced we can force our spiritual super powers to emerge from their hiding places.
Is spiritual life the secret identity which hides our super power? Do we really believe spiritual life is a matter of working our way into strength?
My experience of spiritual life is different.
I believe each of us is on a quest to find the strength within ourselves to become the hero we are meant to be.
Is Spiritual Life Our Super Power?
We see spiritual life through the lens of a super hero’s quest. The stories we hear and watch and play shape our expectations of what spiritual life is like.
We look for heroes who are more powerful than we are and long to follow their examples. Our heroes are supernatural and we want spiritual life to be like them. When spiritual life is beyond what we understand we often try to impose our view of super heroes on it.
No matter what similarities we might see between our super heroes and spiritual life, there are also differences.
I do not believe spiritual life is about anyone swooping down to rescue us using super powers. Life is not a matter of us working hard to develop a super power so we can become the hero we need to be.
Spiritual life is not about us becoming faster, more powerful, or stronger. In my experience, spiritual life is much more about recognizing and appreciating our weaknesses than our strengths.
For me, spiritual life is rarely about ways I am able to rescue other people and defeat villains. Spiritual life seems to be much better at showing me how I need to change than at endowing me with special powers.
That may be our super power, or at least the one spiritual life is about. We can remember and reflect on what we have done and chosen not to do.
Spiritual life is not designed to make us feel guilty or ashamed or to rub our noses in our mistakes. When we take time to reflect, to listen to what spiritual life has to teach us, we learn and grow.
Our super power may be when we appreciate we are not superhuman, when we change how we behave.
Recognizing Our Super Power
There are times when we feel like a super hero, when we can rely on our super power to accomplish great things. We believe we are uniquely qualified to help people solve their problems and find their way.
I do not believe spiritual life is about using our super power to rescue people, including ourselves.
Our power is about being human, not about being superhuman. We let each other know we are present for each other. There is a tremendous power in seeing someone is with us in our most challenging experiences. It does not need to be someone in a cape who swoops down out of the sky.
We start to see ourselves in new ways. Our super power is not an ability to fly or make ourselves invisible.
Some of us find our super power is listening well, particularly when we do not know what to say. We may recognize we can be more patient with ourselves because we have learned how to wait for others. Our super power is what allows us to help someone else become who they have the potential to be.
Spiritual life is not about there not being any superheroes in our real lives. We are surrounded by super heroes who look just like us.
Bringing Our Super Power to Life
It can be tempting for us to look for super heroes with special powers outside ourselves. We do not expect to know anyone who has a super power.
When we find ourselves facing an overwhelming challenge we want help from someone fantastic. We do not expect our everyday abilities to be enough for us.
Spiritual life shows us we have what we need. When we help each other our regular everyday super power is enough. We do not need anyone in a special outfit to rush in and take care of us.
Our super power is how spiritual life works within us and in the lives of people around us. We support and encourage each other. Each of us becomes the hero the rest of us need.
Spiritual life does not demand we practice to develop our super power or build our spiritual muscles. As we practice opening ourselves to spiritual life within us we realize how powerful it can be.
Spiritual life can do amazing things in our lives and through us.
Will we recognize our super power today?
How will we put our super power to work this week?
[Image by tom_bullock]
Greg Richardson is a spiritual director in Southern California. He is a recovering assistant district attorney and associate university professor, and is a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com and his email address is StrategicMonk@gmail.com.