"You're such a cool guy!"
Recently said to me by a friend. I've heard this compliment from people several times. If it isn't verbal then it's shown by people's actions. The way people treat me at times is as if I could either do no wrong, or that I'm some type of hero. Long story short, many times I'm put on a pedestal. People take a glance at my social media, perhaps hear of all my accomplishments, they see my transparency on a few things, or maybe sit with me for lunch or dinner or something and get to do life with me, and they end up putting me on a pedestal. But how do people see me and treat me once they really get to know me?
I want to state from the beginning that by no means is this blog a boast in myself, my accomplishments, or my character, more than it is a boast in the Lord and his work in a sinner like me. See, on the outside people see this cool, people-loving, fun, extroverted guy. Yet they have no idea what the depths of my heart holds at times. They don't know of the insurmountable amount of insecurities that may come on my mind. People have no clue of the battles with sin that I have. Some people do, but for those that don't I simply look charming and cool. People, you don't know the amount of times anxiety makes my body feel strange, or the different times that Satan comes in and tries to make me feel condemned.
Sometimes these things are laid out among certain people, but many times they aren't. Sometimes I just feel like it'd be easier to not talk about all of them and just smile and say "I'm doing great!", followed by a preceding list of all the cool stuff that is going on outside of my soul. It's easier that way sometimes. I mean, who really would want to deal with someone that can be controlling, annoying, pestering, anxious, pissed off, angry at heart, envious, etc. etc.? At least that's how I see it. Yet people have no idea. And sometimes it seems like the better choice. Yet when people get to know me, what do they think? Am I now a person that can't be chilled with? Am I just someone to use for advice and "wisdom" and then when it's my turn you have no time? Is life all about only the good things people hear and see in our lives? I wonder. I wonder who else deals with these feelings?
I believe that inside, whether we have the "superhero" complex or not, there are things in us that we are afraid that, if they were shown, people would walk away. We might be right. There may be sins/struggles that some people couldn't deal with. I know for myself, I've met plenty of people that I thought were the coolest thing since sliced bread, and then once I saw what was really going on inside them, past the exterior, I began being humbled. Why? Prior to I had basically idolized them and put them on a pedestal, wanting to have their friendship, as if it would complete me. I felt this need to have them in my life because it seemed fitting for me to be around someone cool like that. I would take the scripture "imitate me as I imitate Christ(1 Corinthians 11:1)" and would twist it. Seeing them on their social media pages, famous celebrities or local, and would envy where I was, wishing one day to be like them. Who else has felt like that?
Yet, I was selfish to think that they had no issues or problems. Their deluxe apartment in the sky could be a mask for something hidden much deeper in them. What happens once they take off the cape, get in their homes, and become Clark Kent? What about myself? I bet there's more than meets the eye with them as it is with me. I remember when Jay Z came out with "Magna Carta Holy Grail." He had this video where he talks about becoming a father but lacking a true understanding of fatherhood because his dad wasn't in the house. Here I was, seeing Jay Z and bashing him, and yet there were some things that wrestled on his heart that were similar to my own. It allowed me to see Jay Z a little differently, have a little mercy on him, and pray for him more. From then on, I began seeing celebrities differently. Their fashion and clothing, their "capes", were no longer keeping me from seeing that they weren't as heroic, admirable, but not ones to be worshiped. They have a lot going on. Some need salvation, and some need to be encouraged in their faith.
As for me, what happens when you see me, and know the depths of what's going on in my heart? Do you bash, elevate higher, or stay around? Or are you pointed even higher to the Lord because you see that though I am a sinner, his grace is working through me? That's what he did, when he came, engaged us and saved us from our sins. Because of his grace we can be Clark Kent all the time with no expectation to please man what.so.ever. And we don't have to do this because it'll make God proud of us. Nope. God knew what we were dealing with, and what he was dealing with before Christ went to the cross, and yet what love has he for me and you, to send is son to take our punishment and to make us his own? Any superhero complex that has been given to us is nothing compared to Christ, the one who gave it all for God's glory and our reconciliation to the father. Our identity has been placed in him.
We have been redeemed from our sins. Why do we talk as if we still live according to them? Why still place our identity in expectations from others? While it does hurt to deal with rejection, we can be encouraged that he who began a good work in us will carry it to completion, whether people see us as Superman or Clark Kent. And praise God for the humbling moments where we are Clark Kent! God is probably using that to remind us of our need for him and less of people's approval. We're servants of the living God and "he wills and works in us according to his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13)." Saints, rest your capes, equip your glasses, and find hope in Christ and in his word. See clearly the affirmation we have in Christ and the identity we have in him. Be encouraged to find saints around that you can be real with, that will pray for you and encourage you to holiness. And if there are those that back away, pray for them. "There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1)". I pray we become more foolish to the world, as the Gospel is, because while we are in our "foolishness", our wise God is doing a work in us that doesn't require us to have to put on another cape ever again. Be you in Christ, know his love for you, love him, and live for his glory.
I do want to state that compliments and words of encouragement aren't bad. Neither is admiring a person or telling them that you're proud of them. In reality it's all about how and why we receive or give the compliments or the purpose of the person giving them. It's a heart thing. Be encouraged to let people's encouragement point you more to Lord and doing what you do for him and to not live according to anyone else expectations, or feel like you can't talk about what's going on in your heart. Be encouraged to find solid friends that are okay with Clark Kent. And endure with those that are transparent and going through and love them. They probably need a good friend and believer around. Tim Keller said in his book The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness "It doesn't matter what people think of you, or what you think of yourself, but what God thinks of you." Remember, Christ is our reward. He is always enough (Psalm 73).