I was at the top of the boulder when a lady climbing next to me exclaimed, “Don’t you feel like a cat?” It was my first time rock climbing and I felt more like Spider-Man. Likely because my two old cats weren’t the best climbers. Poki had bad balance and Nani was simply too fat. I was doing a lot better than I expected, scrambling up vertical walls almost as easily as Spidey scaled skyscrapers.
Well, it was easy until I twisted my leg muscle seconds after this moment and got stuck at the top without a harness to catch me if I fell. But that’s a different story.
This wasn’t the first time I felt like Spider-Man. Or, more accurately, Peter Parker. A few weeks ago, my pastor used Parker as an example of someone who was small but able to effect mighty change in his community. He said we “have other peoples’ names written on our hearts” and have the superpower to speak blessings into existence for those people.
I think Christians have gotten caught up in the “thoughts and prayers” cycle and forgotten that we can act as catalysts to help answer prayers. Praying for a family to be comforted after death or for a person to find a job is great. But if we have the power to comfort or the power to help search for a job, why don’t we? [This applies to both Christians following God’s Will (love) and non-Christians following their values.]
We have the power to take action and do great things. “With great power comes great responsibility,” right? If we have the responsibility to love others and have the power to do so, then it should be done.
I’m done speaking words of love without delivering on the love. I’ve done that for years and years. “Feed the homeless!” “Forgive and dissolve grudges.” “Take care of widows and orphans, of the sick.” I preached it as a youth group leader for a few years, then went into the week with too much anxiety and too many unrighteous priorities.
Feeding the homeless was reserved for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and mission trips. I knew homeless people were people, but I thought they were scary people. Dissolving grudges was fine as long as I wasn’t screwed over too badly by that person. I wasn’t the type to seek revenge, so my smoldering grudges weren’t harmful, right? I didn’t know widows or orphans and it seemed silly to seek them out. And I was too busy focusing on my own sickness to help other sick people.
Parker was once a nerd like me who was too focused on his own problems (bullying, mostly) to care for others. But then he came to a point of loss that reframed his perspective: His Uncle Ben died and he was projected into a desire to prevent that loss for others.
My Uncle Ben didn’t die, but I nearly did. I came to the doorstep of death and looked back on my life. God said don’t bother knocking on death’s door — there is still much work to be done. I saw my bank account overflowing with money I saved for fancy food and video games. I saw sick people looking for support from me but only hearing my own problems when we had conversations. I saw my last words to each person in my life — none of them built others up. I saw people hurting in my church family who weren’t given attention by me because I assumed other church members would take care of them.
I re-entered the world of the living with a radioactive spider bite of love (har-har). And despite the pains I’ve since endured, the world is now technicolor. I look at people, flawed people, and it’s so easy to love them. I now constantly ask myself how I can help others, whether materially, spiritually, or verbally.
Since having my hearing restored, I’ve been challenging myself to have at least one conversation with a stranger per day that goes beyond, “How are you?” When I was deaf and lonely, I’d sit in cafes and wish more than anything that a stranger would come up to me and attempt to communicate. To strike up some kind of relationship. Now I ask myself how I can be that person for others. Talking to others is the first step to identifying how to help them: fundraising, prayer, food, supplies, edits, writing, friendship, etc. Having experienced situational social anxiety because of my hearing loss, it’s been a palm-sweater to approach strangers. But I leave every instance knowing the right thing was done, and am often blessed in return (though that isn’t the point).
I’ve been praying everyday for God to reveal what I’m supposed to be doing. I feel like being a journalist isn’t my (only) life mission anymore. Rather, He keeps laying the words, “help people, help people, help people” on my heart. I don’t know if that’s supposed to be my career, my alter ego nightlife vigilante goal, or volunteer opportunities I put my 100% into. But the message remains that I’ve been given a second chance at life and I need to deliver on promises to help others.
I begin each day by asking God to reveal an opportunity to help others. And “spooky-cool” things have happened as a result. Opportunities to help others have been popping up left and right. I’ve taken many opportunities and fled from many others. Near the end of each day, I pass Samaritan Drive on my way home and ask, “Have I been a Good Samaritan today?” And I’d love to share some of the totally-God-things that have happened, but this blog post is about the motivations rather than specific occurrences.
I’m small, nerdy, and often foolish like Peter Parker was. But like Parker, I can still create change if I use my “power” to fulfill my responsibilities as a loving human. 2018 is right around the bend and 75% of my New Years Resolution is to be even more intentional in loving others, in very radical ways. I challenge you to do the same.
The other 25% of my resolution will be covered in the next post: “Becoming Captain America.”