I received some of the kindest words from a friend the other day. I had been telling her what I’d been doing to make my Wednesdays, the busiest and most overwhelming day in my week, something I could look forward to and enjoy. As I relayed to her the little things I’ve inserted into those days that bring me extra happiness, she told me this was my super-power. This way of crafting my days into something I could both manage and enjoy, even when the majority of the circumstances were difficult.
I’d been wondering what my super-power was for a while. One of my favorite authors posed the question a few weeks ago over on Instagram.
What’s your super-power?
Not the flying sort, or the invincible strength or lazer-beam eyeballs or running faster than the speed of lightning. Not the kind that people make TV shows about, or that kids will be dressing up as for Halloween. But the kind that all us ordinary humans are born with, the kind that feels so second nature to you that surely it isn’t an actual super-power. What is it?
“I beg of you this:” Erin Loechner wrote, “Ask your self. Then answer. Speak it aloud today. Write it in loopy letters. Bold it in your brain, all caps it on your heart. There’s nothing boastful about declaring that this wide world needs you. Because it’s true: this world needs you. Your hands, your feet, your service, your self.”
I read these words with excitement, so eager to declare my super-power to the world, so eager to let the gifts I’ve been given make an impact on the world.
But it didn’t come to me. I mean, there’s plenty of things I can do, things I’m semi-good at and I can pull off. But the power I would feel like I could wield in a battle? I was having trouble naming it.
So I’m thankful my friend finally did.
My super-power is crafting the hardest days into something beautiful. It is taking a handful of difficult circumstances and shifting them around so that they become lovely. It is taking what I’m given and shaping it into something I love. It is looking for the good in bad, the fun in challenging. It is discovering the abundant life right where I am standing, no matter how unenjoyable or arduous that place is.
For years I’ve circled around the promise given to Christ followers in John 10:10. The promise of abundant life. What does that mean? How is it true when life feels so decidedly NOT abundant? Why are there so many Jesus people floundering through their life that feels exactly the opposite of abundant? It seems like we’re all standing around waiting for this nebulous abundance to be poured down on top of our heads, wondering where it is and why we don’t feel it.
But the more I study scripture the more I am convinced that the Christian walk, and the abundant life within it, was never meant to be passive. Just because there’s nothing we can do to earn it (yes, I absolutely know our complete reliance on the grace of our merciful God), doesn’t mean we aren’t called to participate in it.
We are called to be Kingdom workers, after all, and there’s nothing about that phrase that implies sitting around on our hands until Jesus returns with a magic wand to make all right. Our actions, our responses, our physical work in the actual world around us on this very day – this is how we are going to encounter and build the Kingdom of God.
It’s a tricky thing to handle, this grace mingling with work. No wonder so many faith practices err so hard on one side or the other. But I can find no way around it. We live out our entire Christian life in complete dependence on the saving grace of Christ, never once getting to the point that we aren’t in desperate need of his unmerited favor, forgiveness and kindness like water. And we also pick up our tools and step out the front door and get to work.
We take our God-given super-power into the world and we start making it a better place.
So my super-power? My ability to craft my life into something I enjoy? My way of sifting through my days until I find abundance? This is what I’m doing to build the kingdom. In classrooms, at my piano, on high school theater stages, in our kitchen on dark mornings, on the living room floor with a pile of cars and trucks, at my writing desk, on the running path beside the river.
I’m actively making these days the best they can be, for myself and those I encounter. I’m not waiting around for some turn of events, some change of schedules, some day when things magically get easier. I’m working to shape my life into a place where I’m thriving. I’m crafting my daily rhythms into something I enjoy. I’m choosing to uncover the abundance right here.