In the summer of 1983 I discovered my superpower.
I was six years old.
Most of my days were spent barefooted and muddy from running through sprinklers in the grass, and riding my dandelion-yellow banana seat bicycle, shirtless and sunburnt under the heat of the Florida sun.
I was a little girl with pigtails, missing teeth, and had a newly remarried Mama.
We had just moved into the house that my step-father and his 10 year old son shared.
I was the new kid on the block in every way.
My step-brother had three close friends who lived across the street. They spent all their time together. They were a gang of snaggletoothed, mismatched, sweaty little boys, but I longed to be one of them.
I would sit, daydreaming by myself on the driveway, watching them wrestle and race and peg each other with little bouncy balls until they tired of that and ran across the street on their gangly skinned-kneed legs to hang out in their treehouse.
It really wasn't much of anything. Just some boards nailed to a trunk, forming a crude ladder, and a piece of plywood in the fork of the branches. But in my six year old imagination it was full of magic and mystery and adventure. And I wanted nothing more than to join them there. But every time I asked, they just laughed and told me it was "top secret" and there were "no girls allowed".
Then one day, as I lay sprawled on the garage floor, escaping the sweltering heat and soaking up the coolness of the concrete, four rowdy boys came in with an unusually calm and quiet approach. They stood over me, and I stared up at them. They exchanged looks that were indiscernible to me, and nudged each other, harder and harder, until one of them spoke,
"Um..so…you want to go in the treehouse?"
I jumped to my feet, and one of my light blue flip flops flew off my foot and across the garage. I giggled and ran to retrieve it, then turned to look at them. I'm sure the excitement was all over my dirt-smudged freckled face as I eagerly shook my head and said , "Yes!"
Without another word, they took off ahead of me. I ran, skipped, and maybe even floated on a cloud of elation as we crossed the street to the backyard where I was absolutely positive I would finally be let in on a wonderful secret.
I reached the tree, out of breath but full of joy. The boys were standing in the dirt, absently kicking roots and hiding grins.
"You go first," one of them encouraged.
I kicked off my shoes, wrapped my little hands around the second board and strained to lift my leg high enough to plant my foot on the first one. As I climbed, I thought my heart might burst with joy and anticipation. It wasn't a long climb, maybe 6 feet up, and I enjoyed every second of it. They watched me and cheered me on as I reached the top, then hoisted my tiny body onto the the landing place.
And that's when I felt it. Puddles of something wet everywhere. I smelled it too. The unmistakable scent of fresh urine.
It was all over the tree. And all over me.
I couldn't move. I just stood up, my back to the boys, and stared straight ahead.
They lumbered up the trunk, standing on the boards, laughing behind me.
I wanted to cry.
I wanted to kick their taunting faces.
I wanted to run away.
The only way down was to jump off the opposite side of the tree, or turn around and climb past them.
I felt my chest rising and falling in deep, uneven breaths. And I felt tears threatening to breach the fortress of my pride.
At that moment I had a decision to make. One that I didn't realize then would change something in me. One that I can only see the magnitude of when I look back on it.
I could be weak, or I could be strong. I could be overcome with disappointment and despair, or I could walk away powerful and in control.
I didn't think it all through like that, of course. I was only a little kid, after all. But I knew that I didn't want to give those boys the satisfaction of seeing me cry.
So I spun around on my bare heel, glared at their smirking faces, and resolutely stomped down the boards, jumping off before I even got to the last one. I picked up my flip flops, and walked home with my shoulders back and head held high.
Instead of feeling victimized that day, I chose to feel victorious.
Rather than letting them steal my grit, I reached deep into myself and found my power.
Looking back on that day, I can't help but tell myself that if the little girl me can do that, then the big girl me can do it too.
And so can the big girl you.
God's word tells us that we are made in His image, and I believe that refers to the deepest parts of our souls and spirits.
We are human, but God created us as a mirror of His spiritual, intellectual, emotional, motivational, and confidently sturdy nature.
The more we are in His presence, filled with His Spirit, relying on his influence, the stronger that power to overcome grows.
When we define who we are by the reflected image of Christ in us, we have found our driving force, our supernatural strength that shoots forth from our many fault lines of weakness, our Superpower.
And there's no stopping a girl who has discovered her Superpower.
"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9
"His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence." 2 Peter 1:3