If it weren’t for Professor Xavier, the X-Men would be a bunch of dysfunctional deadbeats living in fear and isolation. It wasn’t until Professor X sought them out, looked each of them in the eye, and convinced them that the very characteristics they hated about themselves actually had the potential to save the world, that they began to step into their true identities as super-humans.
What draws our souls to superhero narratives like X-Men? I believe it’s because they all carry a common theme : that the more adversity someone faces, the more they are able to positively influence their environment for good.
I believe this theme transcends fiction.
There are countless real-life examples of this playing out in individuals and communities everywhere. Brokenness will always be a willing canvas for beauty. Yet for some reason, it’s still easier for us to believe in a less wondrous outcome, one that takes our negative circumstances and simply neutralizes them.
We’d rather hope the gang member just end his life of crime than dare to imagine him becoming a devoted father or running for city counsel.
It’s simply safer not to get our hopes up.
Instead, we focus on what we can control.
We focus our energy on placing a band aid on the scar with the expectation that the body will heal (bringing a negative situation back to neutral). What the superhero narrative declares about life, however, is that the scar itself actually makes the body stronger (the negative creates a positive).
Our own stories reflect this truth. Often, we see our failures as liabilities, things to be forgotten, edited or removed all together. If it were up to us, we’d tear out every page in our story that represented the negative parts of our life. In short, our shame makes us terribly boring authors.
What if we decided to step boldly into the reality that our weaknesses give us an unfair advantage? Have you struggled with sobriety? You have a unique opportunity to connect deeply with others who also struggle. Ever felt abandoned? You’re probably better at creating community because you know exactly what people need.
I know this is easier said than done.
It’s a constant fight I have but thankfully others have come alongside me to remind me of what’s true. They’ve been voices of clarity and wisdom when the villains are running rampant.
So allow me to be your Professor Xavier for a minute. Your story is your gift that you bring to the world. Please don’t censor it. Instead, bring it with boldness to the people that need to experience it most.
The most powerful words we can say to each other is “me too.”