By Melissa Elizondo
Superheroes and I had a thing for a long bit.
I still remember enough to grasp the sense of awe that pushed me in front of some screen, staring hooked to my favorite hero daring to go against the forces of darkness, questioning a heaven that seemed to so rarely provide help. Maybe it’s the American in me — watching heroes who are given powers dare to change the status quo, thinking that even if you get caught in the whirlwind, at least someone is out there trying to save the world.
One predawn morning, I’m caught in the space of overwhelm, the feel of whirlpool pushing down like a riptide. A friend of mine suggests praying in the morning, asking the Lord what to do about a certain situation, trusting him more than myself. It’s not one of those pieces of advice that doesn’t settle easy with my rationale mind, mostly because there’s always the million questions no one has time to answer about the exact process of prayer and finding yourself at the end of your rope — again, like those silly distressed people the heroes always had to go off and save before getting back to their real lives, like those Israelites in the desert with Moses and their yearning to go back to Egypt.
For the longest time, I used to think I could be a hero — but then the real world hit and you’re suddenly haunted by the scary reality that even if you had superpowers, you’d still need help just like those heroes on the screen. Which is hard cause you almost think someone should have invented a patch for that kind of thing. And so, it’s back to God and the questions like does this God ever get tired of saving people from their mess like you half suspect Mario would get tired when he goes off to save Peach for the millionth time? And just exactly how does He look at people with their first world problems that still have the capacity to wreck us silly first world people caught in them? Also: Is there ever a point He just get annoyed with humanity for being human, the way I get annoyed with myself for still falling for the same things I did when I was a kid?
A woman once told me she couldn’t reckon with a God who would save someone from a headache but not a child from cancer. The concept of a personal God was to her a rather selfish concept that Christians seemed to have. And just exactly how strange it is that Christians go about claiming atheists are selfish and they have the audacity to think that there’s a God that cares just about them. And even when people prayed, it wasn’t like she ever saw anyone walk or get healed or anything that would make her think that there was some cosmic force helping us.
Theologians like to say pride is what keeps us from God, aka, the superhero that could save us. I’d never understood what that meant until I felt like one of those selfish souls daring to ask for help, hoping that my case would come before some invisible hero that never seemed to be around in those formative years when the bullies loomed realer than my capacity to stand up to them. My friend, who actually would pray out loud asking the Lord for what she should do about a certain situation before proceeding, told me that perfectionism is usually just a way we have of relying on our own self and our own righteousness instead of on God — but I guess I’m still afraid I’m going to be looked at like some pest, an “Oh, you again?” like those superheroes I used to watch.
Some hours later, my children wake and I rise to meet them, smile, the sense of restful haze wrapped around me flitting through my senses. As a child, I liked the idea of superheroes. As an adult, I’ve tried to be my own. The morning I feel the usual sense of drowning beneath the weight of everything, I’m reaching out, half scared of being told all the ways I’m failing to meet various expectations. And then it’s just me saying this is the everything stressing me out at the moment and I’ll probably be back again whining tomorrow, first world problems and all.
The funny thing about the morning — if I had to explain to the kid I once was just exactly why bother with a God who doesn’t rescue you from the bullies on the playground or the ones in your parents lives or even your own oppressive nature — I wouldn’t talk about swords and theatrics, the sudden displays of power, the feel of satisfaction at knowing victory was won, cue swelling music.
Instead, I’d blush, scramble around for some words that describe the sense of being held close in a space of warmth, tended to, loved like a mom holding her child to her breast, like I hold mine to me the second their cry pierces my ears.
Cast your burden on the Lord, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved. Psalm 55:22
For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart,and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:28-29
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 New King James Version (NKJV)
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7