Sidekick to Your Superhero

A friend of mine once performed one of those tests where she asked a group of us questions that were supposed to represent different aspects of our lives.

“I’m a little concerned,” she told me. “You said your favorite color is green, but you don’t know why. Your favorite color is supposed to represent the way you view yourself, and I wish you were a little more excited about it.”

Disappointing, perhaps, but accurate. (I don’t know why I like myself; I just do.)

“I think your second answer is really sweet though,” Alina continued. “Your favorite animal is supposed to represent how you view other people.”

This brought a smile to the entire group because, while I may not have gotten excited about the color green, I had a pretty cool monologue going on about why I like horses.

“I just think they’re incredible creatures,” I said. “I love to watch them run. Like, I could watch them for hours and not get tired of it.”

This conversation came to mind last night when I was trying to convince my brother that I think my purpose in life is to come alongside someone else. Because I would rather play sidekick to a superhero than set off to save the world by myself.

My brother insisted that two Batmans were better than a Batman and Robin combination, but I disagreed. Batman doesn’t need an exact replica of himself; he needs a Robin.

But if I absolutely had to be a superhero, I would be Violet from The Incredibles. I would be the girl who stands invisible on the sidelines until her brother is in mortal danger. I love that scene where Dash is cornered, certain he is about to be shot, when Violet throws herself over him, envelopes them both in a force field, and confesses she doesn’t know how she did it. Then Dash does what Dash does best as Violet continues to guard them from enemy fire.

That would be my superpower—the human shield. I know this because even in video games I adopt that role.

My sister taught me how to play Gears of War (because “guys dig chicks who play video games”), and while my siblings and their friends are all charging into the fray in search of bonus points and achievements, I make it my duty to keep them alive. So while they’re out there armed only with chainsaws and scorchers, I’m hanging back near the base, picking off anyone who would cause them harm.

And it makes me happy.

I find absolutely no joy in that game when I don’t have a partner to keep alive. Sure, I’m still shooting the same mutant creatures, but I’ve lost my purpose. I’ve got no one to protect. No one to support.

And though my brother was hard pressed to accept it, I’m the same way in real life.

There’s not a whole lot I want for myself, but I want the world for you. And I may not get excited about many things, but I will always be moved by watching you run, seeing you fly.

And I would be happy, always, to just be the sidekick to your superhero.

gears of war


Love Letter to a Dreamer

Hey You,

Yes, You.

I hope you’ve read over the last month of archives and learned a thing or two about dreams. I hope you were encouraged by these women who have fought with dreams… and won. I hope that you, too, learn to be a survivor–the kind of person who would dare to be more than the world believes you could be.

There will be plenty of people who try to shoot you down. The line of people waiting to throw their stones never gets any shorter. So I started a line of my own. I’m in the line of people who say, “Hey You, yes, You… I believe in you. I know that you were made for great things.”

And I’m sorry to say there aren’t too many people in my line. I’m sorry to say that you’ll dodge far more rocks than embrace words made for comforting. And I’m sorry to say that curses may cling to your soul a lot longer than blessings do. The words you will remember are the ones that wounded you; not so much the ones that carried you.

So I‘m begging you to listen closely. Listen very, very closely to these words I’m going to say. And hold these words. Harbor these words. Let these words shape the very core of you.

You are, in a word, potential. Potential, potential, potential. You could go anywhere and do anything–carried away on the wings of a dream. No matter what the world says–no matter how “safe” and “practical” it wants you to be; know that you weren’t made for anything less than your wildest dreams.

So chase them. Chase your dreams wherever they may lead you. And never stop believing in them–no matter how impossible they may seem. Because the impossible dreams are the ones that are made for coming true.

You know what I want for you? I want you to find the purpose for which you are made. I want you to find your dream and run with it. And I want to jump up and down on the sidelines like I’m your biggest fan. Because I am your biggest fan you know.

And I’ll be here the whole time, cheering you on, speaking words of blessing where others throw curses. You musn’t listen to them, you know. They don’t know what they’re saying. They don’t see what I see. They don’t understand that the Maker has gifted each and every one of us and that you were made to shine.

So go ahead, Fragile Bird, spread your wings. Leap from the nest that has cradled you for so long. It’s time you realize that you were made for flying.

And don’t you forget to dream.

Finding God’s Will For Today

Yesterday, someone walked into my office while the staff meeting was still going on. As he sat on the couch and waited for my co-worker, we struck up a conversation about following God. See, my unexpected visitor was a pastor who is constantly being asked, “How do I discover God’s will for my life?” Naturally, he does what Jesus would do and answers with a question: “Are you following God’s will for today?”

That question really got to me. Knowing what God wants us to do with our lives is a big deal. That’s why we strive so hard to discover His will for our futures, but the bigger question really is, “What is God’s will for today?” That’s what life is made of. A whole bunch of todays. If you start walking in obedience today, it will come a little more naturally in the future.

We tend to easily get caught up in the “someday” mentality. Maybe we think we know God’s will for the future, but that future never comes because we don’t start stepping toward it today. We never do anything to make it happen because it’s God’s plan for “someday.” Someday… after we get all our ducks in a row. Someday… after it falls into our laps without us having to expend any energy. Someday… after we’ve exhausted all our excuses.

Today I encourage you to let go of your “somedays,” stop focusing on the future, and simply ask God what His will is for today.

You Matter

I’m in the middle of a pretty freaky book, but that’s not what had me tossing and turning in bed the other night. My mind kept replaying this snippet of a conversation – this one tiny piece of a testimony:

I was the pregnant 8th grader everyone gossiped about. “That trashy little girl.” But no one ever asked me how I got pregnant. And no one ever stopped to tell me that I matter.

I lay in bed for a long time and cried over the sorry state of my world. Over a people who are quick to judge and slow to extend mercy.

“You matter.”

Those words would have meant the world to this lonely, frightened 8th grader. But the people who were too busy judging a character that wasn’t even on trial were too blind to see the gem underneath.

She couldn’t see it either. She didn’t think she mattered.

I’m thankful to say that, years down the road, she met a God who told her the truth. She finally heard the words, “You matter,” and let them seep into her heart. But what it would have meant to hear those words in 8th grade…

So I’m here to tell you that you matter. No matter how many crimes have been committed against you. No matter how many wrongs you’ve done.

You matter.

And because you matter, your life has purpose. Because you matter, there is strength to face another day. Because you matter, you can hold your head high amidst the jeering of the crowd – against the lies and hatred you encounter along the way.

You matter. You honestly, truly matter.

Please believe these words I’m saying and, because you believe them, tell someone else she matters too.

Faithful to Fulfill

“The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me: your love, O Lord, endures forever – do not abandon the works of your hands.” -Psalm 138:8

I find it comforting to know that David – a man who is recorded in the Bible as a man after God’s own heart – had struggles just like I do. How refreshing it is to think that I don’t have to have unshakeable faith to be counted among one of the faithful. Even David doubted. Why else would he feel the need to plead with God not to abandon him?

I relate all too well with David’s 138th Psalm. I’ve felt abandoned. I’ve wondered where God was in the midst of my circumstances. I’ve had to remind myself time and time again that God truly is the God who interrupts, redirects, and fulfills my wildest dreams.

You may be floundering in confusion, wondering what exactly your purpose is for this season of your life, but that’s okay. We serve a God who holds eternity in the palm of His hand, and He will be faithful to fulfill His purpose for you.

The Purpose of a Fairytale

You may have heard the quote: “Disney gave me unrealistic expectations of men.” I’m not sure who invented that statement, but I have to question their accuracy. We have a tendency to blame fairytales for our distorted views of what love should look like, but you never see anyone blaming Disney for making us believe that animals can talk. You never hear anyone complaining, “Oh man, and I really thought last night would be the night Peter Pan showed up at my window.” And when’s the last time you tried to kiss a frog?

Let’s face it, we’re not really expecting to take a bite of a poisoned apple and wait for our Prince to come wake us from a comatose state. No one really expects that to happen. So why are we blaming Snow White for our troubles? Sounds to me like she had it a lot worse than I do.

Fairytales weren’t written to give you a distorted view of romance; they were written to instill hope in the hearts of those who want to give up on living. Prince Charming aside, fairytales are all about chasing your dreams and finding the courage to step into the unknown. That’s the true romance and adventure of a fairytale.

Though many of us still love fairytales to this day, we started watching them as small children – back in our “boys are icky” days. I know that I, personally, did not watch Cinderella for the wedding scene at the end, but for the music and the mice and the adventure that led up to that fateful moment at the ball. When she met Prince Charming, I wasn’t sighing because it was romantic, I was shouting, “Take that, you evil stepsisters!” That was Cinderella’s real victory. She lived as a sweet-hearted servant until she finally rose to the princess position that she deserved.

So stop blaming Disney for your broken dreams, and read the rest of the story. There’s so much more to life than finding Prince Charming. Happily ever after is the end of the story… Try living once upon a time.

Drifting Through Life

“I am not angel, nor am I demon. I am not a ghost as some would like to believe. I am a Drifter, something God created in his spare time and then forgot on the fringes of reality.”

Whoever had the idea to put those words on the back cover of Sharon Carter Rogers’ newest book, Drift, knew what they were doing. Those words were so haunting, so captivating and intriguing. Here was a man who thought he had been forgotten by God. Throughout the entire novel, I felt my heart reaching out to this lost creature, yearning to see him restored. And I found myself cheering when he finally reached this conclusion about himself:

“I am not an angel. Not a demon or a ghost. I am something very different, maybe something better. I am a secret, something God created and then hid on the fringes of reality. A tool destined to do as He did, to seek and save that which was lost, to bring lost things back to His hand. I am not an angel. I am a Drifter, and for too long I have forgotten what that means.”

It’s not often that I read a novel where the hero has completely forgotten who he is and what he was meant for. Heroes, after all, have a sense of purpose. But the longer I read this book, the more I understood the Drifter. And the more I understood the Drifter, the more I saw myself in his character. In a way, I feel that this Drifter saved more than just the book heroine. He saved me. You see…

I am not an angel. Not a demon or a ghost. I’m something very different, and yes, even something better. I am a human, something formed by God’s own two hands and sustained by His love. Created for a purpose and destined for here and now. I am not an angel. I am a child of the King of kings, and for too long I have forgotten what that means.

But a certain Drifter reminded me that I do indeed have a purpose, even when I’ve forgotten what that purpose may be. So perhaps I should stop “drifting through life” and live as if I am sure of my purpose, knowing that, in time, my purpose will be fully revealed to me.

The Pattern of Our Lives

My dad is a carpenter by trade. As I grew up, I spent a considerable amount of time at some of his job sites watching him turn an empty room into a masterpiece. I remember one time he recruited Mom and I to help him with a huge tile job. I walked into a basement to find what was, without a doubt, the most unusual floor covering I had ever seen. There were seven different colors of eighteen-inch square tiles spread across the floor in no particular order. “There’s no pattern,” I observed, somewhat shocked.

That’s when my dad chuckled and informed me that I was staring at the most complex pattern he had ever created. When the owners of the house told him that they didn’t want a pattern, Dad had to carefully create a pattern that would give the appearance of no pattern. I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to wrap my mind around that concept. To the untrained eye, that basement appears to be a jumbled mess of color, but in the eyes of the master carpenter, it’s a carefully concocted design. I believe that’s the way God works in our lives.

To be perfectly honest, my life doesn’t make much sense to me. I don’t know why I was raised in the woods of Ohio with four siblings. I don’t know why I’m obsessed with names and their meanings, or why I think that life should be a musical. I’m not sure why I feel so compelled to write the thoughts that stir in my heart, and I certainly don’t know how all of those things tie together to make any sense at all. When I look at my life, I often see it like I saw that basement I helped Dad grout. It appears to be so random and sporadic that I can’t imagine there is any sort of pattern there at all. But there is a pattern, though it can only be seen by the Master Carpenter.

Check out these verses referring to God’s carefully concocted pattern for our lives:

“All the days ordained for me
       were written in your book
       before one of them came to be.” -Psalm 139:16

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
       before you were born I set you apart;
       I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” -Jeremiah 1:5

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11

These verses and others like them are a reminder that my life is an intricate pattern created by the hand of the Master Carpenter. The same hand that set the universe in motion carefully arranged every detail of my life. Though I cannot see the pattern with my untrained eyes, I trust that when the job is completed, the “tiles” of my life will rest in the exact place they were intended to go, and my life will be the masterpiece God purposed to design.