When I pretended o be Wonder Woman as a kid, I focused on her superpowers, trying to mimic flying through the air and dodging bullets. But as an adult, I realized I could not truly be a fan without looking into her whole story.
Fans of any superhero become deeply attached as they follow their favorite’s journey through comic book pages or on film, identifying more with their flaws than their superhuman abilities.
Within the journey are answers to our own weaknesses and insecurities.
When it comes to relationships, superheroes often struggle to balance calling with the equal desire to love and be loved. Like all of us, they deeply desire relationships and have vices that keep them from it. Some of them are even tempted to give up part of who they are to get that love, but in the end learn to balance both.
We can learn a lot from the hero’s journey — maybe even how to become a hero for ourselves. Here’s how
As much as you would like to forget about the past, your backstory affects your past, present and future. Comic books re-visit a superhero’s backstory over and over because it impacts how they see the moment and how they see themselves. Would Bruce Wayne have become Batman had his parents not been taken from him? Your story, good and bad, makes you who you are.
Just like any superhero, you must bring purpose out of it in order to find healing in your life. In marriage, your backstory will come up in conflict, values, and your experience of love. Bring purpose out of pain if you must — and then use it to serve others.
Just like Moana is called to the water and Princess Diana of Paradise Island is called to Man’s World, there is always a call to adventure. Many heroes deny the calling, or at least try. For others, something tragic happens to sabotage the call to adventure. Fear, insecurity, even others can convince you that the adventure is too dangerous.
There are many calls to adventure in marriage — the wedding day, reconnecting after a fight, having children, even courageously tearing down the emotional walls that separate you. There will always be a temptation not to answer the call and wait. But you will never truly know the power of marriage, or your own ability, if you deny the call.
Moana crosses the reef; Diana leaves the island to go to Man’s World. Ironically, this is the favorite part of the journey for the audience and possibly the worst for the hero. The hero must battle the enemy, rescue the victim, and is bloodied and bruised. The audience doesn’t want it to end, but it is not because of the external battle. It is the hero’s inner conflict to which the audience relates.
Marriage is difficult because we must face our own insecurities, backstory, temptations and weaknesses if we will ever have the marriage we desire. This is where we will experience the ugliness of our spouse, life and the world. It also where we see what we are made of and then made into who we are capable of becoming.
When the battles seem never-ending, it is hard to believe that blessing is on the other side, but it is. Once the hero has resolved the internal conflict, blessing in the form of completion always happens next.
Not be confused with perfection, there will always be another battle to fight or inner conflict to resolve. Instead, blessing often comes in the form of love from whomever they saved, validation of their identity, or renewed confidence. In marriage, we see it in the release of tension when we have worked through a difficult conflict and find each other again.
Every hero is transformed through this process, and so are you. It is a cycle we go through again and again as we grow into who we have been created to be.
Deployments change us, as do life’s surprises. Many of us return to our loved ones different than we left.
For Diana, she is no longer just their princess, she is now Wonder Woman. Superheroes realize through this journey that they no longer fit in one place and must accept who they are.
Marriage can become truly home. Your spouse can be your safe place to return where you can rejoice in victories or have your wounds bandaged — either way, you are home and you.
Where are you in the hero’s journey? Do you need to accept the call to adventure, embrace your backstory, or maybe remember blessing is coming? Where is your spouse in his or her journey? Don’t forget that they are your hero too.
While superheroes struggle to balance their calling with their relationships, they recognize that there is no calling without love. Those who love a hero accept that their hero may be called to serve the world, but they get to serve the hero.
You can watch or listen to more about “The Hero’s Journey” on the Lifegiver Podcast.
It was a silly thing to fight over, especially since it was an argument about fitting as much joy as possible into a Florida Disney family vacation.
I, led by my “mom-guilt,” argued that our boys had wanted to go “their whole lives” (slight exaggeration). And he, fueled by sheer logic, argued that it logistically made our trip more complicated.
Both of us felt right, and both of us had a good case to be right. In an attempt to hold our positions, we dug in and sabotaged three days we could have otherwise spent together by arguing over a theme park made of Legos.
Conflict in marriage can be incredibly discouraging when you desire to be on the same team but feel like you aren’t.
Neither of us woke up that day and said, “Hey, today seems like a great day for an argument.” In fact, most couples find themselves arguing over wanting the same thing. In our case, we both wanted to plan the ultimate family vacation, but we had differing perspectives on what made a vacation “ultimate.”
The ideal, of course, is to quickly see the value in each other’s perspective, but most times couples do the opposite and start digging trenches for battle. And that’s how they end up in No Man’s Land.
During World War I, opposing armies would dig trenches and aim mortars and ammunition at each other. The land between, known as No Man’s Land, lay unoccupied and unowned because of the fear and uncertainty of being ambushed while coming up out of the trenches.
Fighting couples do the same thing. If during conflict you are like me, every shovel of dirt seems to be filled with all the reasons why I am right and why he should surrender. Of course, this is not my most shining moment, but I have a feeling I am not the only one with calluses on my hands.
While I sat in my self-made trench this week, I spent time thinking about the losing battle over No Man’s LegoLand. In a heroic scene from the trailer for the new “Wonder Woman” film, she courageously emerges from a World War I trench. Despite incoming mortars and gunfire, she shields herself from enemy contact and slowly makes her way across No Man’s Land. As a superhero who stands for personal courage, peace and the pursuit of truth, she is the first to emerge from the trenches.
When hurt enters our relationship, we have a choice to remain hidden in the trenches, continuing to load our mortar weapons, or rise up out of them. No Man’s Land will always be scary, especially when the other person is still firing, but someone has to be the first. Someone must be the first to be courageous, first to become vulnerable and first to intentionally pursue the human in the other trench.
It is never fun to go first. Never. The first person to stop fighting and seek peace will usually have to risk the possibility of incoming rounds from the other.
I would love to say that I am Wonder Woman every time, but that simply isn’t true. Surprisingly, I have learned equally as much when I have gone second. When my husband is the first to enter No Man’s Land, I am faced with a choice to follow his example or validate the existence of my own stubbornness. It is then that I witness my true character and decide who I want to be.
On Christmas Day 1914, French, German and British troops called a truce to exchange greetings and souvenirs, and even play football in No Man’s Land. Now known as the Christmas Truce of 1914, opposing forces who spoke different languages came together for a moment of peace. My favorite image of that amazing event is that the troops turned a battlefield littered with death into a football field for play.
During the heat of an argument, it can be hard to see the potential of the land that exists between you and the other person. Your marriage was not created to have a vast space of empty land that separates you. It exists to be a playground. You may rise up and take a few hits, but if you choose your marriage over the trenches you have dug, you just might find a place where you have more in common than you thought.
I was reminded this week that foxholes are homes for foxes, not men, and certainly not Wonder Woman. I am not meant to build a house there.
And who won the battle for LegoLand? No one. What matters most is that we both rose up out of the trenches.
If you didn’t know, I love Wonder Woman. As a child, I zipped up my leather boots, grabbed my nylon yellow rope my Dad had in the garage and lassoed trees in the yard. Forcing them to tell me the truth about where to save the woman or man held by the enemy. I had little reference for this superhero other than Linda Carter on TV. Bullets bounced off her bracelets and she could jump to the top of a building so after every show, I’d run outside and see if I could do the same- except for the bullet thing- but I imagined it.
There has always been something inside of me that wanted the truth to win. I saw no good in secrets and lies other than good secrets like birthday parties and surprises. Evil used lies all the time and I just knew, way deep down inside, that there was something powerful about the truth- and I wanted to fight for it. In John 8:32, Jesus tells the Jews around him, “If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
I have lived my life, since I was very little running around in under-roo’s, seeking the freedom that truth brings. So… I became a counselor, aiming to help others discover their need for truth as well.
In the past year, Matt decided that if I was going to be a real Wonder Woman fan, I needed to read her comics. So we picked up the New 52 series one at a time. I have to say that I have loved it. I read it slowly, digesting it in pieces- what I assume a fan really does. I wanted to share with you what I’ve learned…
It turns out… I really AM Wonder Woman. As silly as that may sound to you, it brings me full circle and a sense of completion way down deep in my core. My Father, the God of the Heavens, created me with a purpose. I love others, deeply. I hate to see pain in their eyes. I dig for truth, fight for justice, sacrifice sometimes too much of myself for the sake of others to have freedom from whatever binds them. I know that the truth of scripture is the answer- bringing clarity to confusion, strength to those who need it, and light into the darkest places. I also know that it brings me to my knees every time. Revealing the painful truth of my weakness and insecurity. It reveals that I am not as strong as I think I am. I largely serve others out of my own issues, and that I can wear myself out in the temptation of thinking that I, too, am a god- when I am not and never have been. But I AM in the family of the one TRUE God- and that makes me an heir- able to live in the freedom that Christ died for me to have. If only I could believe that all the time… but my own issues get in the way, confusion sets in, the lies of the enemy taunt me and I forget for a moment that I have a lasso of truth, the Word, at my side- glowing, ready to be used, ready to shed light, ready to free us all.
This is not a spoiler, but this picture showed up towards the end and it is so perfect for where I am in life right now.
I have given all I have in me lately…
Out of my love for others…
Using every bit of my own strength…
Relying on the prayers that some of you have offered…
Trying my best to listen to His guidance…
Fulfilling the calling He has placed on my heart…
And I find myself in His arms ready to rest.
He has been fighting the worst of the battles for me, but I have been fighting the ones that he has allowed.
Here is the truth-
He has given each of you a calling:
He has given you armor:
Therefore take up the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you will be able to stand your ground, and having done everything, to stand. Ephesians 6:13
He has given you a lasso:
For though we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh. The weapons of our warfare are not the weapons of the world. Instead, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We tear down arguments, and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God; and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3
So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. John 1:4
But He has also given you an identity:
‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ Isaiah 41:10