Hero Complex

Over the past couple years I’ve become an avid board gamer. The games I play today are a far cry from memories of Sorry and Monopoly. Far more diverse and complex, the best ones keep me dancing on the edge of uncertainty, always a single step away from victory or defeat. While some of those games pit one friend against another, there are now games that pit us against the game itself, and it is these cooperative games that I love best.

While playing one of these games last week, a game called Zombiecide, we ran into a snag. One of our members declared his move, and I quickly objected. It was a great attack. The card was an ability that could completely clear a mass of enemies, but to my mind it seemed foolish to use it so early in the game, especially when the mass of zombies at hand should have been rather easy to dispose of without it. In the end, he gave in reluctantly. In his irritation he accused us of not wanting him to get stronger, and it was then that he said, “It’ll be just like last game.” The last game his characters had been unable to get any significant equipment, so he’d been relegated to a survival and support role that, while crucial to our victory, had kept him weak and trapped for most of the game.

This week I’ve felt that scenario. I identify with that fear of insignificance far too well. Even in that game my own fear played a part. Though my primary reason for objecting to his move was strategy, I felt that card would be more useful later, a small part of me hated the idea because his character would jump ahead of me while taking away my means of getting stronger.

I don’t remember when I met this fear, but I know it was a long, long time ago. There are many fears tied up in it, but if I were to put it into words I would call it fear of powerlessness, a fear of helplessness. It is the path that has led me to idolize strength. At least, idolize my own definition of strength. I want to be my own Superman, but it goes further than that. I also want to be others’ Superman as well. It is a destructive idol, and one that can only have its root in fear. I am afraid of being powerless and this world often leaves me feeling helpless to fight the troubles around me. The fear is dangerous. It fuels a competitive spirit with those who I should be fighting alongside. It prevents me from taking risks. It attacks my sense of self worth, and tells me I’m not significant.

But I was never intended to be strong in the way God is strong. I am supposed to be strong because I trust in His strength, and in His love. In the end, I may be like my friend’s character who barely survived. He didn’t have the highest level. He didn’t have any amazing weapons. He spent most of his game in a single square. But, in the end, we may not have won had things gone differently, and we would have definitely failed without him.

I still wish I was strong. I wish I was Superman, but maybe I can rest a little more easily in my own helplessness knowing that despite that God still loves me and still has a purpose for me. I still have a place in all of this. Maybe I can rest in his strength when I’m not trying so hard to compete with it. Maybe there is a lesson in that for all of us.

Much love.

-Kirk

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