Editor’s Note: Throughout the month of June our writers will explore the way that God, grace, and the gospel show up in pop culture.
I really wanted to be Wonder Woman. I dreamed that I would have (and fill out) that shiny, patriotic bathing suit, use a magic lasso on bad guys, and marry Superman. I would pilot my invisible jet over the ocean or just ride on my super husband’s back through the sky. We would stop all evil and look good doing it.
Then I outgrew my underoos, went to college, got married, and got a job. My husband is fantastic, but he cannot fly. I pilot a minivan instead of a crime-fighting invisible jet.
My kids are obsessed with comic books. About 50% of our conversations are about superpowers, supervillains, ridiculous scenarios, and epic battles. Their favorite characters are mutants, stars of ancient mythology, aliens, or lab experiments gone wrong.
But my favorite is Batman. It’s not just because he’s an introvert with depression (like me). Or because he has a dark anger that sometimes makes justice look like revenge (like me). I like Batman because he has zero superpowers (like me).
I tell my kids all the time, “Batman’s only superpower is self discipline! Isn’t that cool? We could all be Batman!” They groan and roll their eyes. Who wants to work out, practice, and study longer when you could just be born great and save the world instead?
“Unlike most superheroes, he does not possess any superpowers; he makes use of (to the best that he can) intellect, detective skills, science and technology, wealth, physical prowess, and intimidation in his war on crime.” – http://batman.wikia.com/wiki/Batman
I didn’t like Batman until I faced all my big grown-up choices. Would I let my pain and loss be redeemed? Would I choose a purpose in life that was self-centered or others-centered? Would I give up when things got hard? Would I share my money and talents in secret, or for glory?
My main grown up choice is to follow Christ with perseverance and self-discipline. It’s not easy or very fun, but it helps me fight depression, anger, and injustice. I’m not a ruthless vigilante protecting Gotham, but I do fight for my family, homeless families, and refugee families with small daily choices. When I encounter daily entropy and global evil I do sometimes want to slam people against the wall, but I try hopeful prayer and humble action instead. I don’t have a bulletproof suit that gives me sculpted abs, so I settle for Pilates.
I butter toast, zip lunch boxes, and sign homework for ungrateful kids before the sun rises. Every morning. I’m Batman.
I pantomime putting on deodorant and wiping my bottom to baffled tweens. I’m Batman.
I google DIY repairs when another appliance breaks and my husband is out of town. I’m Batman.
I listen heavy-hearted while friends chronicle their loneliness, envying my house, husband, and kids, and then blame me. I’m Batman.
I add more time and distance to my runs, until my lungs burn. I’m Batman.
I pray for healing for my kids everyday, and it doesn’t happen. I’m Batman.
I read Little House on the Prairie books with my daughter every night, when I’m dying to clock out. I’m Batman.
I keep trying churches, even when the sermons feel hollow and people are distant. I’m Batman.
I see the international pain, suffering, and horror in the news, and hold on to my faith. I’m Batman.
I still struggle with Dark Knights of the soul, when I want to give up on God, marriage, kids, and the world. I have to choose to fight through it, with those superpowers of faith, self-discipline, and perseverance. I try to love unlovable kids, pray impossible prayers, fight unwinnable fights, and confess unforgivable things.
Because I’m Batman.
How to Storyboard Your Own SuperHero Comic:
- What is your origin story? What is the great pain of your life? How are you letting it define you? What will you do with it? Can it be redeemed? Can it be used for justice and for good? (This might require forgiving someone.)
- I don’t have a genius IQ, martial arts expertise, millions of dollars, or a secret lab to fulfill my purpose. I’m not a mutant or alien. But I do have a unique set of gifts, abilities, experiences, and passions. Those are my superpowers. What are your superpowers? Set a timer for 10 minutes and write out a list.
- What world issues make you feel like a vigilante? What news stories make you want to kick down doors and make a fist? This is actually a gift of clarity and purpose. What evil do you want to fight in the world?
- Who are your crime-fighting partners? Who are your Robins, Alfreds, and Commissioner Gordons? What community is guiding, equipping, and partnering with you?
- What is your superhero name? What does your costume look like? (My daughter still wants me to get this costume every Halloween. Nope.) What are your secret weapons? Consider asking God, “Who did you make me to be? What do you want me to do in the world?” Please be sure to take time to listen for answers from God and trusted friends.