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How to Live When You Learn You Aren’t a Super-Hero

In the midst of life’s woundability, what is your foundation?


I’ve been a pastor for over 27 years, but during that time I’ve always worked as a low-level, volunteer superhero. This is true. You’ve heard of Spiderman, Iron Man, and Batman. Well, just call me Invulnerable Man. My superpower? I am invulnerable to injury, sickness, failure, fatigue, and possibly even death. Or so I have thought, anyway. But then reality happens, and I realize that I am not Invulnerable Man.

For example, a few weeks ago, like any decent super-hero, I sprung out of bed to come to church. But as I bent over to pick up a stray sock, my lower back locked up. Then I was in excruciating, even nauseating pain. I texted my friend Bishop Stewart and said, “I can’t make it. For starters, I can’t get my socks or pants on.”

The Nobel Prize winning poet Czeslaw Milosz once wrote a three sentence poem:

To believe you are magnificent. And gradually to discover that you are not magnificent. Enough labor for one lifetime.

Milosz titled that poem “Learning.” I can relate to that! It’s been a long, slow learning curve to discover that I am not invulnerable. In a similar but global way, the coronavirus may be teaching us a similar lesson: we are not near as invulnerable as we imagined. How do you live when you learn that your health, your dreams, your relationships, or your nation are more fragile than you ever imagined?

The word vulnerable literally means “to be woundable.” How do you live when you discover that life can wound you—physically, emotionally, relationally? That life can shake the very foundation you thought you could stand on?

Those are the questions behind the Psalm 62. It’s a poem written by David, the greatest king of ...

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Matt Woodley is the pastor of compassion ministries at Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, Illinois.

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