It recently came to my fiancé’s attention that I was far, far, behind in watching the Marvel movies. I’d seen a Thor movie here and there, Captain America because he is good looking, and an Avengers movie maybe because my brothers had made me. So we have worked very hard for the past month or so getting me caught up – mostly for the purpose of seeing the boss of all bosses, Captain Marvel. The soundtrack alone will convince you that you actually are the hero of your story.
So one of the movies in the lineup was Spiderman Homecoming. There was a moment though that has stuck with me in an interaction between Tony Stark (or Iron Man) and Peter Parker (Spiderman).
Peter Parker/Spider-Man: But I’m nothing without this suit!
Tony Stark/Iron Man: If you’re nothing without this suit, then you shouldn’t have it.
Call me a nerd, it is fine. But I loved this line and it has come to mind in multiple conversations I have had recently. Working with college students I feel like I have this same interaction often. They are all asking: What am I if I am not an athlete? An A+ student? A leader? A well-known person?
What is your “suit?” What is the thing in your life that maybe gives you the illusion of being important or valuable or powerful? What is it that without it you would feel like you are nothing?
To be honest, being engaged has even made me ask this question. I have been a “proud single woman” for quite a few years, and it becomes a very strong identity. It becomes a source of pride, an altar of sorts. And now it is gone, and I do not know exactly where I fit; I want to toe the line still with my single sisters and yet I need my married friends and at this current moment I don’t find myself entirely in either camp.
I have probably written about this idea from one hundred different angles. I am passionate about where we find our identity, because I felt like I wandered through life for a while without really knowing mine. Without realizing I had value and worth apart from any of those titles or accomplishments that I thought were necessary. So today I just want to say a few things to you, wherever you might find yourself.
So to you, friend, who isn’t playing that sport anymore: you are important and influential and strong and a champion even still. You have value and a voice and opportunities will continue to come. Hold onto hope.
To you, who is graduating college and entering the “real world:” you will continue to meet great people and create memories and stay up too late giggling with your pals. You will still matter and find purpose and direction. You will create a new context for yourself that is lovely and fun and challenging. This is not the end of fun, it is not the end of the “best years of your life,” it is all only beginning.
To you, who got that first B (or maybe C, D, F, or A- even): your worth is found in so many better places than your GPA. Nobody really cares in the end. I remember getting my first B my freshman year of high school and I am beyond grateful; it gave me permission and freedom to freaking relax and be proud of doing the best that I could do, regardless of what letter grade was assigned to it. Your worth is not measured on a 4 point scale.
To you, who have given your life to a cause that has not seemed to have made any progress: your work is beautiful and sacred and holy. Never disregard the contribution you have made to the world because the fruit isn’t visible or measurable. Your efforts are seen, and more importantly you have been formed and shaped and redeemed by the work you have done.
To you, who is watching all your friends get engaged, married, have babies, get promotions, get dream jobs, get into grad school, and it feels like nothing is ever happening to you: God is paying attention to you. Trust me. Today might not be the day of great change or achievement for you, but there is tomorrow. And there is the amazing treasure that comes from a patient heart and a trusting faithfulness. Continue. Walk forward in the hard work He has asked of you. Your day will come.
To you, who feels like you have royally messed up: we follow the God of never ending newness. He is so excited for you to start again. He is running arms open wide to help you off the ground, out of your pit, wherever you’ve found yourself, to dust you off and get you back on track. You are an amazing story yet to be told. You are grit and determination and faithfulness.
To you, who feels like your life is a Groundhog Day situation of the same, mundane, everyday stuff: He is there with you. God is in the normal, He loves the ordinary. Maybe we could release from ourselves the pressure to be extraordinary and rejoice in the little victories, the tiny beauties of our normal days.
I could go on and on. But friend, wherever you find yourself, whatever identity you are grasping onto so tightly so that you feel worthwhile, just let it go. Find the peace that comes with just being exactly who you are. Rest in the knowledge that God is pleased with you exactly as you are, because He made you that way. You are a masterpiece.