Superhero? Stash the Cape and Walk with Humility

Walk in Humility

Do I stash the cape or keep it? It’s fun designing characters for a children’s book. Artists and authors often use attributes they see within themselves or others for character development. Though super heros in flowing capes make great comic heros, they are hard to live with in daily life.

Recently, everything coming my way (videos, sermons, personal studies) focuses on the element of humility — an attribute I possess too little of! As much as I desire less pride and more humility, achieving that goal often requires time and effort.

Paul wrote to the Philippians,

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.”
Philippians 2:3-4

Zap

These wise words establish godly perspective. In both artistry and life, perspective is everything. How we position ourselves in relationships determines how vibrant those relationships become.

Looking Down

When artists portray a character struggling or defeated, they view the image from a high angle looking down. The reader will automatically perceive the character as being fearful or shy. Even slight variations, like a hand turned upward, give the subject a subordinate position.

For most people, deliberately assuming this lower position creates internal struggle. For most people, only rarely do we willingly desire to appear inferior to others.

Superhero

Jesus noticed this propensity to choose the best seats, highest places, and honored positions. In Luke 14, He tells His followers,

“When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor . . . take the lowest place . . . “
Luke 14:8-11

Sooner or later, self-promotion ultimately leads to humiliation! Most of us consider ourselves too cultured and dignified for such brash behavior. But I honestly need to ask myself a few straight questions: How willing am I to seek advice? How readily do I receive correction, especially if it is from someone not in authority? Do I ask others for help or do I find my own way?

For me, these are all difficult. I would far rather be the teacher than the student or the one who provides than the one receiving. Most of us gladly halt what we are doing to help others, but stutter when asking for similar assistance.

Boom

For relationships to grow and mature, they must be reciprocal. Lopsided one-upmanship disappears when we let go of pride and perfection, offering permission to stash the cape. Reciprocal means giving and receiving — a willingness to take the lower position.

Eye to Eye

I hope many genuine relationships fill your life. Paul says,

“Therefore if you have any encouragement for being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.”
Philippians 2:1-2

The strongest relationships I enjoy are those “united with Christ.” Though natural families form incredible bonds, spiritual ones become even stronger. When our natural family also becomes our spiritual family, we possess the best of both.

Hero

What propels relationships grounded in Christ? The first two attributes Paul mentions are the comfort of Christ’s love and sharing in the Spirit. To know how loved we are, despite our weaknesses and failures, releases us to love others — not as superiors but equals. Eye to eye! The Spirit dwelling within us, leads us into a fuller re-presentation of Christ in the world.

We can stash the cape, leaving any superhero facade behind. Walking on a common level, we experience tenderness and compassion, similar mindsets, and mutual love for each other.

Looking Up

Every picture book or movie presents a hero by looking from what is called the “worm” view. With a few artistic strokes the hero looms large, powerful, and independent within the scope of their surroundings.

A child running through the yard with fabric flowing off their shoulder’s announcing the world will soon be delivered, brings smiles from adult onlookers. Unfortunately, many of us carry our imaginary capes into adulthood, viewing ourselves with superhero status: superior and strong.

Pow! Bang!

We pull invisible capes from who-knows-where and masquerade as someone significant. Oh, don’t worry, we maintain our “Christianese” behind the polished mask of false humility.

Jesus’ words echo in my heart as a warning,

“The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Matthew 23:11-23

Scripture gives no room for “might” or “maybe.” They will be! Experience has taught me, the sooner I choose the low position and look up, the better for everyone!

One Hero

When I’m willing to stash my cape, refusing to pretend super Christian status, I clearly see the real Hero — the only Hero, the true Hero worth looking to. What made Him so heroic? He lowered Himself lower than I could imagine, becoming nothing, so we could become everything He designed us to be.

” . . . he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:7-8

Jesus became Superhero #1, for all time, for all people. He didn’t just stash a phony cape; He left Heaven, descended from the highest place of glory and power, to become like us — dust. Talk about a giant step downward!

Kapow!

Only when we see our glorified Lord will we fully understand how low He came. And the result? He snatched a dying world from eternal hell, trampled the head of that slimy serpent, and declared victory over every oppressive dis-ease the enemy once unleashed.

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Philippians 2:9-11

Stash the Cape

Jesus set the ultimate example, showing us how to restore relationship. The One who could have come like most comic strip heros, looking down on the world, didn’t! He could have dominated, intimidated, and controlled, but He wouldn’t.

Jesus came — looked humanity in the eye and walked at our level. He allowed people to pay His way, wash His feet, and serve Him, without feeling demeaned. Jesus also lifted people (demon possessed, adulterous, wicked, sketchy, diseased, contaminated people) from low positions. Each time, He demonstrated honor and value.

Stash the Cape

So why do we struggle to stash the cape, to show our flaws, and be real with each other? Why do we obstinately refuse the low road?

Jesus chose a different way.

“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God;”
John 13:3

Because Jesus KNEW — understood completely His identity in the Father and His ministry — He was secure. The same possibility is true for us! Insecurity causes us to reach for superficial capes and earthly titles. Insecurity motivates us to look down on some, compare ourselves with ourselves, and desire the accolades of others. Security allows us to stash the cape and relate honestly.

The Frame

Every artist or illustrator considers how to “frame” their characters. Wide angle, or close-up? Left, right, or center? Through reading Daniel, God reminded me of the “frame” I need to walk in humility.

A dream disturbed King Nebuchadnezzar. He called in all his astrologers, magicians, enchanters and sorcerers — his full arsenal of dream interpreters — demanding they both tell him the dream and interpret it. They panicked, “You’re asking the impossible! No one on earth can do what the king asks!” (Daniel 2) True story!

Daniel quickly solicits the prayer support of his friends. As a result, God reveals both the dream and meaning. When he approaches the king with the answer, Daniel clearly says, “God in heaven reveals mysteries. It isn’t about me or my wisdom. I’m no better than anyone else, but God wants you to know and understand.” (Dan 2:28-30)

Daniel showed complete humility. He responded to situations by taking the low road, seeking the help of his comrades, claiming no credit for himself and desiring the good of others.

Supermom

That’s our frame for humility. God exalted — first, last, and middle. Others honored as better than ourselves.

So when you see the evidence of pride (no matter how subtle) in my strut, carried in my continence, or waffled in my words, I give you permission to tell me plainly, “Stash the cape, girl! Be real!” Please help me swap my phony cape for the legitimate cloak of humility.

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Top 4 Hindrances to Authentic Relationships

Building Relationships

Building healthy relationships is one of the short suits of my life. I have become stronger over the years, but I am still learning from my mistakes. Here are my top 4 hindrances to authentic relationships. I assure you my personal list could be longer!!!

“I’m Fine”

“How are you?” Pushing ourselves to trust and answer honestly may be scary, but truth is the only soil in which healthy relationships can truly grow. To strengthen friendship and community requires risk, a risk others may be unsure to take but worth giving a try ourselves.

The LORD detests lying lips,
but he delights in people who are trustworthy.
.”

(Proverbs 12:22)

I'm Fine

Being real with one another is worth peaking beyond our shells of self-protection. An authentic response may be the first step down the road of a life-long friendship. If things are going well, this is an opportunity to rejoice together; if you are ‘turtling’ your way through a tough season, genuine support and care may be directly in front on you.

“Calm Down”

Emotionally charged environments give tangible opportunity for honesty. Emotionally transparency is key within genuinely strong communities . We need to be able to listen attentively to the hearts of those around us without trying to filter everything around our own comfort zones, laying aside critical judgments and condescending attitudes.

Communication

Studies show that women, more than men, are “wired to quickly and accurately decode or detect distress.” This alone can cause problems with relating authentically in cross-gender circles. Just as the perception of one may create precipices of risk, the lack of accurate perception may allow for bulldozing attitudes in the other! Neither is intentional! Both must be overcome! Dictating when and how every conversation will flow results in emotional distancing. Tempering without hiding keeps us from damaging and distancing those around us.

We watch Jesus fully engaged emotionally: angry, sad, joyful, or moved with compassion. His complete honesty was an open door to enjoyed just “hanging out” with Him. He was real, but he was tempered.

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech
but with actions and in truth.
.”
 (I John 3:18)

“If you would just [fill in the blank] then I would…”

Without question, it’s give-and-take in developing rock solid community. How do we treat others when they are not “carrying their load”?

Putting Others First

“the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness and self-control…”
Galatians 5:22-23

There are several elements within the fruit of the spirit, that only exist in the context of going the extra mile in developing community; elements that require us to be initiators in developing a loving relationship, rather that reactors when the going gets tough.

“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak
and not to please ourselves.
Each of us should please our neighbors for their good,
to build them up.

Romans 15:1-2

“I’ll do it Myself!”

Bossy

“Miss Bossy” may look cute in a picture but not in real life! Years of being a cattle producer gave daily examples of why these “four-leggeds” are often called bossy…

the first to the trough; the last to leave
maintain position at all cost
take the lead or lose it
challenge me and see what happens
muscle power!

The “I’ll do it myself” thoughts are blatant reminders of those days! Haughty superiority and need for control decapitates future opportunities to develop the team relationships needed in healthy community.

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you:
Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought,
but rather think of yourself with sober judgment,
in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”

Romans 12:3

 Relationships Within Community

Community comes in many forms: a family, a leadership team, a small group or your workplace, just to name a few!

Ants go Marching

I am reminded of a walk with my children years ago. We came across an ant super-highway. It amazed us the strategy, precision and efficiency of this community of workers. Each stuck to the right side of the pathway as traffic was streaming different directions. Many struggled in the process of carrying loads disproportionately larger than they; other workers came and assisted in their struggle. For some time we crouched low, watching in amazement. Whether the worker was large or small, each shared the same mission.

Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!
Proverbs 6:6

Only yesterday, a comment from one of my sons, reminded me how far I have to go in developing godly, authentic and loving community. Unfortunately, I am very much still a “work-in-progress” in this area!

__________

Meg Gemelli  was inspiration behind this blog. Thank you!)

__________

Related Articles:

Beatitudes – Encouragement and Instruction for Every Circumstance!

3 Relationships We All Need and The Reasons Why

 

My Call to Action – Living and Communing Authentic Relationships

My Call to Action

I don’t know about you but I find it challenging to live fully and freely in relationships with others while simultaneously remaining in communion with God. My call to action is living and communing authentically!

The other night, I had a vivid dream about several mountain ranges filled with high peeks. An outdoor deck nestled at the base of each mountain while a house perched solidly on the highest point. Halfway up the mountain was a “docking point” – a small out-shoot of metal.

As I viewed the sheer mountain face, I questioned how one would get from the deck to the house. Instantly, I whizzed above even the highest apex. Each mountain was a solid rock with unique and beautifully intricate marble-like veining.

Mountains

I knew that God was showing me three positions I could choose:

  • The first was on the deck, relaxing and enjoying the company of those around me
  • The second was at the top where a different kind of “dwelling” occurs! It is where I get to know God in reading the Bible, prayer, solitude, and lingering in His Presence.
  • But there is a third choice – neither up nor down! The place of “self” – disconnected from both God and others. This is the most precarious spot.

The longer I meditate on the dream the more truth it reveals of the life choices I have made and am making in relationships. Regrets, like heavy dew, settle on me as I think of how often I choose to sit in the “docking-point” – disconnected from others and trusting in the frailty of myself.

My Call to Action – Living and Communing Authentically

I feel God’s invitation to enter more transparently into the lives of all those around me while at the same time allowing Him the reins to draw me closer with Him. I can do neither in my strength or power.

To commune means to “share one’s intimate thoughts or feelings with…
especially when the exchange is on a spiritual level…
to feel in close spiritual contact with.”

To fully share life together has a spiritual dimension – not just in our relationship with God and but also with others.

Community

Living fully with others may include

praying together.
sharing spiritual truths and insights,
spurring others on in their faith journey
and relationship with Jesus,
trusting Holy Spirit together to lead and direct
our lives and ministry.

The Deck

I greatly enjoy “deck” times! Hanging out… relaxing... getting to know others… often laughing… sometimes crying… reminiscing…sipping lemonade on a hot day or hot chocolate on a cold one. Relationships with family and friends fill life with a rich hue of appreciation and growing respect.

Communing

My ever-expanding circle of  friendships are woven intricately with threads of  Jesus Christ and the fullness He brings. The deck is where I introduce Christ to people!

The Mountain

I long to live continually on the mountain. Here is where my heart rests, my body restored and my mind renewed. Clothed in the full forgiveness of Christ, I approach His throne of grave,

listening and speaking,
waiting and resting,
rising early and lingering late,
fully me wrapped in Holy Him
with childlike freedom
warrior courage
maturing faith
breathing deep
trusting more…

“No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another,
Know the Lord.’ because they will all know me.”

Hebrews 8:11

The first “know” in this verse means a growing kind of knowledge, to come to know and to know personally.

The second “know” is a different word meaning to perceive, to know absolutely, to have complete knowledge of.

Mountain

The mountain is where I come to know the Triune God more fully and personally and where I pray for people!

The Dock

In the middle is a desolate place! It is the place of neither hot nor cold. (Revelation 3:16) The place of disconnect with God or others! I  have the option  to go, stop or even stay here. It is the forty years in the desert place. The place where no one really wants to stop, yet where all will at some point.

Alone

Every moment is a choice  –  a choice about where I will live and commune. Will it be the deck, the mountain, or the dock? True authentic living always breathes life of God into people. Always!


Authentic Living

Lord draw me to the place of richer and deeper
fellowship with those around me.
where I am neither ashamed or afraid to
share how much You mean to me.
Lift me up, Lord, to my true resting place
the place where I can see beyond believing,
feel completely and fully,
and be fully known and loved.
Both require a level of vulnerability that
I try to avoid, but must maintain.
I ask for courage and grace to live fully
and authentically!

Want to check out other blogs about living in healthy relationships?

3 Relationships We All Need and The Reasons Why

Top 4 Hindrances to Authentic Relationships