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All Women Are Superheroes

I have always enjoyed superheroes. I mean, they are “super” and are “heroes.” In fifth grade, my friends Mickey, Kevin, Bill, and I would go out at recess and play “Fantastic Four.” I, of course, played the part of the “Invisible Woman,” and in one or two recesses each day, we saved the world, got captured, and rescued each other several times. That was until I was replaced . . . by Tammy (something I am still bitter about to this day).

"...in one or two recesses each day, we saved the world."

Back then, I thought of superheroes wearing their capes and flying, running head-first into dangerous situations, and always standing on the side of good. They always triumph, and they never really get hurt. Even if they die, they find a cosmic loophole and come back to life. They have special powers that allow them to conquer anything the bad guys throw at them. They also have great “outfits” (I guess men wouldn’t call them outfits) and cool hideouts filled with all the latest toys. All of this plus an unlimited supply of energy and strength.

I have been blessed to know so many incredible women: women of all ages, shapes, sizes, and backgrounds. From those associations comes my belief that women are superheroes. No, we can’t jump buildings in a single bound or fly through the air, but when we list what we know about our popular media superheroes, there are a lot of similarities.


1. An Origin Story Every superhero epic always starts with an origin story. Our superhero inevitably goes through a growth process during which they discover their superpowers. Often, they start in adversity: a spider bite, a fall off a building, or a village being destroyed. The discovery of who they are and their mission to “save the world” is a process. Powers are revealed over time. Superman didn’t know he could deflect bullets until he was shot at. The Flash didn’t know he was fast until he started running. Through a voyage of discovery driven by experience, the full power of who they are becomes clearer. Inevitably, there comes a time when they put aside their worldly desires to serve a higher or better purpose.

One of the advantages we, as women, have over traditional superheroes is that we already know we have a higher purpose and a mission to accomplish. We know we are daughters of God. James E. Faust said, “Being a daughter of God means that if you seek it, you can find your true identity. You will know who you are.” However, that knowledge doesn’t keep us from going through the same discovery process to understand and utilize our superpowers. Like all superheroes, we can continually learn new things and add to our arsenal as we use our superpowers to fulfill our “destiny” and make the world around us a safer, holier place. Like our superhero counterparts, this process includes discovery and improvement through adversity and experiences.

2. Courage and Belief When the world is teetering on disaster, superheroes answer the call. Batman drops whatever he is doing when the bat signal is sent. His belief that what he does matters and makes a difference fuels his courage. Belief and courage work together hand in hand: a partnership dependent on each other.


It is one thing to have the courage to save the world from a supervillain; Wonder Woman has her cool lasso and can fly and jump like no one else. But it takes real-life belief and courage to save the world every day. In our daily lives, regardless of circumstances that suggest otherwise, we have to keep believing what we know about our origins and purpose in our thoughts and actions.


One day, I woke up with the flu. The kids were home from school, and children who had previously been sick woke up that day feeling fine and were now stir-crazy. I tried to sit on the couch and make sure that they didn’t set the house on fire. I gave instructions to the older children regarding meals. I turned on the TV and hoped that would keep them quiet. That didn’t work. The toilet overflowed and had to be cleaned up. The children got bored and wanted me to solve their problems. I went to the doctor to get medicine and returned to a house in chaos, so I sat on the couch and pretended I was alone in a hotel, sleeping in a bed made from clouds. I will admit that at no time during that day did I think, “I am a superhero.”


Sometimes, our beliefs can falter as circumstances and challenges mount against us. It is easy for us to stop trusting what we have always known. As our belief wanes, so does our courage. When we forget about our divine origins and calling, we allow other things to distract us from our purpose, to keep us from doing the things that only we can do and making the difference only we can make.


The key to sustaining a belief in our divine origin is remembering that our Heavenly Father gives us all our superpowers. This is not in a one-time-only allotment; He will continue to give them freely throughout our lives to help us meet our challenges in accordance with our faith and trust in Him. Our belief is fueled by our ability to keep our eyes fixed on the real things of God. “Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not” (D&C 6:36).


Sometimes, our imagination isn’t large enough to see the possibility of solutions that are visible to the Lord. Belief in ourselves comes from a sure knowledge of our divine origins. Courage comes from knowing that we aren’t left alone. If we put our trust in the Lord, He can help us do things that aren’t possible on our own.

Nephi [Book of Mormon} is a great example. He and his brothers were asked to return to Jerusalem to retrieve the brass plates. When they reached the city walls, they discussed what was to be done and the best way to do it. When their first two attempts failed, Laman and Lemuel felt justified in returning to their father empty-handed. However, Nephi knew who he was; he strongly believed in himself and his divine mission. God allowed him to go without a plan and see what the Lord would have him do. The mission was only successful when the world and its solutions and failures were laid aside for the Lord’s solutions.


Nephi's belief is consistent throughout the story of Lehi and his family. Regardless of the group's difficulties, he knew they did not change his mission or the outcome. They would get to the Promised Land, and all of the Lord’s promises and blessings would be fulfilled. In the end, it is said that Nephi and his people lived “after the manner of happiness.”



"The superpower that all women have is the ability to make the seemingly impossible become possible."

3. Superheroes Can Be Team Players All superheroes have their superpowers but can also work together.  The Justice League, the Avengers, and the Fantastic Four are examples. Even the Flash and the Arrow team up from time to time. As much as Batman likes to be dark and brooding, he would be nowhere without Alfred and his sidekicks, Robin and Batgirl. They understand that everyone’s unique abilities are needed in the fight for justice and that they are a part of a team. Just like the superheroes, when women work together using their specific skills and talents, they can be unstoppable and are a force to behold.


Once, I was in the church kitchen, making dinner for a church program with three other women. We were busy cooking, cutting, and making all the elements for this dinner. Michael had come up to the church with me to help, and on our way home, he said, “Wow, women are pretty amazing!” I asked him what he meant, and he said that he could feel love when he came into the kitchen. He talked about how we were laughing, smiling, and getting things done. I explained to him that women are amazing, and together, there isn’t anything we can’t do. All women's superpower is the ability to make the seemingly impossible possible. When women combine instead of comparing their talents and gifts, there is no stronger team.


There are times when the teamwork suffers if one of the team members is influenced by an element like Kryptonite. Superman is the only one we know of who is lethally vulnerable when he comes into contact with that particular stone, but all superheroes have a chink in their armor. Comparison is the most significant roadblock to teamwork among women; it is our Kryptonite. You don’t see Batman feeling inadequate and like a failure because he can’t fly like Superman or spin webs like Spider-Man. The Invisible Woman doesn’t wish she had Wonder Woman’s Lasso, nor does Wonder Woman stop doing what she does because she can’t make herself invisible. Super Heroes get it. If Batman needs to run up a building or get from one place to another, he doesn’t sit down and complain that he can’t grip the wall with his super sticky spider fingers or swing from building to building from spider webs. He quickly grabs his grappling hook and gets moving.

3. Superheroes Recharge their battery

Superheroes need to recharge their batteries. Superman has his fortress of solitude. Batman has his Bat cave. Wonder Woman has occasional spa days and Netflix binges. Wait, did I say that? Sometimes, the amount of superpower we can muster at any time may be tied to the amount of sleep we get the night before. We need to keep our batteries recharged, too.

As our batteries run down, so do our superpowers; before we realize it, other, easier things begin filling in the blank spaces. The easy choices of the world’s distractions and pleasures are allowed into courage’s place. As we accept the world’s temporary happiness and ease, the note of courage’s ring gets softer and softer. In our weakened state, our superpowers get lost, and all that seemed to make sense before can become lost. 

Using the escape hatches the world offers does not strengthen us or help remind us who we are. Instead, it plants the seed of a new message: that what we do isn’t important. When choosing our forts of solitude, let’s choose wisely those things that will bring us strength to continue our mission, not those that distract us from our very purpose.

We have long since left the playground and the land of pretend. We don’t have imaginary masks and capes that once gave us the necessary courage. We can’t use two simple recess periods to save the world or face our challenges, some of which we face our whole lifetime. There are no cosmic loopholes for us, and we may often find ourselves overwhelmed and unimpressed by the mundane tasks and events that take up our days. That doesn’t take away the truth that all women are superheroes. Like superheroes, we have our lists of superpowers unique to us. Just like superheroes, we need to trust ourselves to be able to do what is needed (including those mundane tasks) to “save the world,” because women who believe in their divine origin and their God-given powers and dare to face the challenges of life can save the world every day.


Illustrations by Gianlucca Martini
"All women are superheroes. We have our own lists of superpowers, unique to us. "


 

Illustrations by Gianlucca Martini

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