This is my sweet five-year-old, dressing up in her fifteen-year-old brother’s superhero socks. He has a wide collection, and likes to wear them mismatched as a tiny but significant (?) piece of rebellion against the oppression of school uniform…
I’ve been thinking about superhero socks a lot this week. In my last postcard I mentioned IHE’s -Impossibly High Expectations – and the potential they have to limit us from being all God created us to be. And I’ve been thinking about my own, and how to describe them to you, so that you can spot yours!
On reflection: having an impossibly high expectation of myself is like being quietly stalked by a Superhero. This SuperSomeone tiptoes along behind me, like a malignant imaginary friend, waiting for the moment to point out my inadequacies, show me how I could do things better, or encourage me to aim ridiculously high. Next to her, I always feel pretty rubbish really.
Now, while it’s perfectly OK to enjoy a good superhero story, and even (in some circumstances) to wear the socks; I’m sure you’ll agree that to believe that you can be a superhero is a dangerous, possibly even life-threatening delusion.
But, we all seem to do it. We all seem to invent a ridiculous, superhuman version of the role we’re in, and then expect ourselves to be it : SuperSomeones.
My loudest and most powerful Supersomeone is ‘SuperMummy’. She stands in the background of my life, ever ready to rear her (very beautiful and perfectly made up) head at any opportunity. For some reason she is most likely to manifest the night before the children’s birthdays, or Christmas, when she’forces’ me to organise beautifully themed birthday parties, icecakes until 3 in the morning and try to make everything ‘just perfect’.
If I ever take my eyes off Jesus and let them settle on SuperMummy, I’m done… I come to a few days later, confused and exhausted, wondering (again) why on earth I thought I needed to do all that stuff.
You see SuperMummy always wears make-up, is slim, has beautiful hair, can wear scarves stylishly, bakes perfectly, has a beautiful home (she found that piece of furniture in a second-hand store and distressed it herself) and a high-powered career, is amazingly spiritual, never shouts, and can preach in high heels without falling over. SuperMummy reads bedtime stories to all of her children every day, never forgets the PE kit, or shows up with kids in uniform on Mufti day, can instantly find a protractor the night before Maths exams, runs the PTA and never misses a dentist appointment… Gosh, she can probably service the people carrier (minivan) as well.
SuperMummy does NOT exist… But do you know what? if I let myself be conned into trying to be her, I may not exist for very much longer either. Trying to be a superhero is exhausting and dangerous… and not what Jesus has asked us to do.
Whoever you are, and whatever stage of life you are at, I bet you
have a SuperSomeone.. A SuperPastor, SuperDad, SuperFriend,
SuperDaughter, SuperWorshipLeader, SuperChristian. Walking
quietly beside you, whispering over your shoulder, “You need to be more like me” Do you know what? – You need to get rid of them, right now, whatever it takes.
SuperWhatever will distract you from what God is calling you to be and to do, he or she will suck all the life out of you, exhaust you, whisper ‘try harder’ over your shoulder until you can’t manage another step and then show you all the ways you’ve failed.
Whatever you think about what he has written or said since, a few years ago Rob Bell, in a very popular book called Velvet Elvis had a moment of pure genius. Writing on this subject he said:
‘KILL YOUR SUPERWHATEVER… ACT NOW… SHOOT FIRST!’
At the moment we fell into his arms and surrendered to him, God our father gave us a gift to help us defeat the Supersomeones. An enormous endlessly supplied water cannon, filled with… grace.
There is grace enough to cover ever one of your imperfections… and mine. There is grace to not to have to be perfect, to be a superhero. In fact, Grace says “you aren’t a superhero, I didn’t make you that way”.
Of course, our kids, work colleagues, churches, friends, families, need us to try to be ‘good-enough’, but there’s a loooooong way between that and a superhero.
So there’s my challenge for you for the week: ask God to shine his light on your inner Superwhatever; ask him to show you where you have ridiculously high standards of yourself and then apply a ridiculously generous amount of grace…. Shoot first.
For your journal:
Is it time for you to give up wearing some superhero socks? Have your worked out who your supersomeone might be? Spend some time asking God about it this week.
Then set yourself some challenges… For me, shooting grace at the supermummy meant making some good-enough decisions, some of which I found very hard. ( Buying a pile of chocolate muffins instead of baking a birthday cake is one I especially remember:)
What challenge will you set yourself to be ‘good-enough’ this week?
P.S. In case you don’t scroll down that far… Commenter Deborah wrote this, and I think it’s great:
‘What other approval is there, that compares to the voice of God whispering to my heart, “You’re mine”.’