“Super ladies? They’re always trying to tell you their secret identity…think it’ll strengthen the relationship or something like that. I say, ‘Girl, I don’t wanna know about your mild-mannered alter ego or anything like that. I mean, you tell me you’re uh Super, Mega, Ultra Lighting Babe, that’s alright with me. I’m good…I’m good.'”
~Frozone, The Incredibles
Laughter subsides, reality pops back. Art reflects the culture, a cartoon character goes straight to the almost unbearable truth of a world that is content to focus on the masks we all wear rather than the reality behind them. Furious pace of electronic connection buries people. It shovels dirt into this hole where we are trying to bury the truth.
I certainly don’t post video of the argument my kids had over who ate more oatmeal cream pies out of the box I bought yesterday, or upload selfies from the time I cried my eyes swollen, overwhelmed with ache that one of my children is hurting or that I have hurt someone else, again.
As we all starve truth and gorge on the emptiness, we find ourselves anemic, weak, distorted in our view of reality. We are engulfed in “reality” everything. Yet there is this vague acknowledgement in the backs of our minds that this is anything but. The momentary shot of adrenaline approval—whether it be a like, a view, a follower—is a fleeting fancy with no tangible sustenance. (And if you are here thinking that those things can result in the tangible, they can. It’s not, however, of the life-giving variety.) We are not fed or fulfilled. So we do it again, like the Pavlovian dog or the rat trained in the maze.
The anorexia of the soul consumes.
We shovel some more.
Born into sin, we immediately and innately sense our ultimate need, our lack, and we yearn for more and better. We seek approval. After our divine design was marred in the garden, we instantly began to mar one another and assign blame for our ensuing lack of security. Once we have lost sight of identity given by God, we reach for the first fig leaf we can find to cover and just try to act natural.
This ongoing attempt to validate ourselves, to find ourselves valued, to find ourselves loved, most often results in that same reach for the leaf. We cover the unmentionable aspects of ourselves, revealing only what we think is acceptable, desirable, beautiful, in hopes it will garner the affection we crave. It is the starving of our true selves.
After awhile, we forget the Truth. We no longer know who we are, lost in the mad shuffle of shifting morals and madness. We think we will find rest, relief for our weary souls by feeding elsewhere, online. We emerge with the secret identity well-hidden, only our Super Selves on display. We may parade in a mask of bravery, courage. It is not really what we want. The deepest need is not met.
We will exhaust every avenue, changing anything and everything about the truth of who we are. If we aren’t married, maybe marriage? If we are married, perhaps divorce. If we are young, let me just be older. We have aged, if only we were young again. Don’t have money, work really hard to make as much as possible. Change hair, change eyes, get thin, surgically alter my physical identity, gender even. I will find a way to fix myself, to change to something, someone better. I know I will like who I am now.
Herein lies the ugly secret. Here is what we are trying to cover in that hole. Like a Poe character attempting to hide the evidence in the floorboards, it will not be silenced. Whatever we project, whatever we think we want people to see is not only not reality, it isn’t even what we want known. We want to be fully known just as we are and fully loved that same way.
We can undergo a total physical transformation, inherit all the money we could ever want, land the perfect job, wear the perfect clothes but when we wake up in the morning, it is still just us. The exterior can look however we want. Circumstances will always fluctuate. It is still just people striving, shoveling.
None of us can change what actually needs changing.
There is only one true Super Hero. There is only One capable of validating you. And the you He validates isn’t Ultra Lightning Babe, or because you’ve gotten 100,000 followers or because of how you look, or feel, or act. He validates the mild-mannered alter ego. He falls in love with the one behind the mask, the secret identity you. He rescues the you He designed. It is the you He made you to be.
When there was nothing admirable, lovable, delightful in your identity, He sacrificed His own perfect internal beauty. He gave it up, gave it away. This is the One to whom every knee will bow, every tongue will confess. And. He. Loves. You.
He designed you. He works from the inside out, the upside down of the world. He created the identity that can only be complete in Him.
David wrote it magnificently in Psalm 139:
“O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.”
He made you. He knows you. He loves you.
The proof is in the action, not in the uttering of words, or typing words on a page.
He didn’t like your post. He didn’t follow you on Twitter. He didn’t send a friend request on Facebook.
He went up on the tree and laid down His life. And for all of our shoveling, we could not bury this Truth.
When He came back from the dead, He brought your identity with Him. Your secret identity is not a secret to Him.