Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Different Kind of Extraordinariness That A Child Should Have

Was flipping through some of the shows on Cartoon Network e.g. Generator Rex, Beyblade and Ben-10. Then I heard this snappy punchline by Generator Rex, a boy with nano-nanites in his body who easily comes up with ingeniously nifty weapons to fight powerful enemies:

"Sometimes though, I just want to be normal.



I realized these shows are all blasting the one same unspoken message:
"Your worth and identity lie in your superpowers, your special abilities - what you can do. And oh, you might be an ordinary boy/girl, but if you can get hold of a special power-up, wow! you'll be morphed into a powerful being beyond your wildest dreams!"
Ah... this ancient archetype, beloved by children since time immemorial: be it nomadic children huddling around a blazing fire or bored kids huddling around a blaring television. Ordinary people gaining extraordinary power to do extraordinary things. And I recall my own childhood fantasies of having powers that would make me significant. Able to do something that would make a difference. The pinnacle of proficiency. Das Überwunderkind. (Amazing how any German words used in an English passage looks pretty profound, eh?)

And we guffaw and split our sides at Jeff Kinney's child anti-hero, Greg, in the side-splitting Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, partly because we see so much of ourselves in his childish fantasies of being the best and smartest around. We can identify easily with his mini-megalomanic musings. :)

For example, when I entered primary school for the first time, I felt so ordinary and unnoticed by all the other children. So I would lie in bed at night sucking my thumb and fantasizing about having superpowers like those Chinese period-drama actors flying around and hadoukening the socks off one another. (Somehow ancient Chinese wuxia heroes seemed way more tangible to a six-year-old boy than those strangely-dressed and brightly-coloured Marvel superheroes.)

I even watched an alien drama (Star Princess in 1988, when MediaCorp was SBC) and was so enraptured with the powers that our alien friends had, that the next day, I went around challenging my schoolmates to pinch me, imagining myself having the superpower not to feel pain when being pinched.

Needless to say, a sharp pinch quickly brought me back to Earth faster than a crashing meteorite! :)

Come to think of it, aren't we all afraid to be ordinary? To be an ordinary man = to be forgotten and become one of the void grains of the empty dust of history upon which victorious supermen wipe their soles upon. So we grown-ups try to amass some "secret weapons" of our own: be it cash, career, condo, cards or BGR, or even church. They are our Weapons of Much Significance. Our cool gadgets. Our power-ups. Our trump-cards. Our Holy Hand-Grenades of Awesomeness.

Our toys.

Our fig-leaves.

For ever since the Fall, we've all been ashamed of our nakedness. Our ordinariness. We are afraid to be who we really are. Even from the first day of school, we feel that we have to perform - you know, do something Extraordinary (with a capital E) in order to be liked. To get into the top stream. To get first prize. To be the chairman. To get that prestigious scholarship. Or, if you're not into that kind of nerdy nonsense, to be the most hip and happening one around. To be top dog. To be the suavest of them all. Etc. etc. So we children learn to hide our ordinariness by incepting layer of extras upon layer, incepting and incepting until we get lost in our own little limbos.

We hide ourselves so much, that we end up not being able to find ourselves.

In contrast to all this, there came another Child who came to earth one day. But unlike the rest of us who tried so hard to be different, this Child was different.

Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.

Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;

he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.

When he appeared in human form,
he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Where we tried to transcend our humanity... He instead embraced his humanity.

Meekness and majesty
Manhood and Deity
In perfect harmony
The Man who is God
Lord of eternity
Dwells in humanity
Kneels in humility
And washes our feet

Ah. This makes me want to say something to my children who watch these kind of shows. Something like this:

What can we learn from this Child, dear children? Yes, you are right! He came to teach all of us to learn a new and different way to be extraordinary.

Dear children, you don't need special toys to be extraordinary. You don't need special talents or skills. Your worth does not lie in your powers or talents or even brains, though I do believe God has blessed you with a very special talent in one way or another.

But, oh children, your abilities can make you no more valuable than the colour of your hair can ever do. What you need, dear children, is a special heart. A heart full of goodness. A heart full of love. A heart full of kindness. A heart full of humility. A heart full of wisdom. A heart full of joy and peace. And so on. For these are the true power-ups that really matter in this world.

Oh, a heart so full of God's love. Just like a little cup of water plunged into the mighty ocean is filled, so may your heart also be. And when your heart is full of God's love, you need never fear being normal ever again. For if being an ordinary boy was good enough for God Himself, it should be good enough for you too! :)

But don't ever think that being ordinary = being useless. It just means that you allow God to work through you.

For God + you = extra + ordinary = extraordinary!
May your love for God and those around you today be extraordinary! Amen.


Robert said...

Hey bro, I really resonate with this post!

I recall when I was in Primary School and thinking that I looked like He-Man (except with clothes on, no one runs around in metal chestguard and furry underwear!), and I vividly remember my disappointment when I saw my image in the mirror for the first time, and I went 'Huh?! U mean I don't have yellow hair and bulging muscles?!' I looked so normal and geeky… so ordinary!

And I agree that this feeling of being determined to be extraordinary is really our own limbo… we believe that the next big car, the next big house, the next prettier girlfriend, the next better camera, the next career promotion, the next pay rise, will make us SPECIAL, that somehow our possessions and achievements will make us stand out in a world of ordinary homo sapiens (hehe… I remember wanting to be ‘homo superior’ but only if I had cool powers like Magneto and Wolverine!!!)

But in the midst of it all, we forget that we are already SPECIAL, because we are fearfully and wonderfully created by a God who loves us, and has called us according to His purpose. I actually think our desire to be something more is actually a godly desire to live up to the expectations of our Father Creator, and it is a virtue because the noblest aspiration of Man is to fulfil his potential. However, in our worldly nature, a lot of times we try to do it with our own effort, and when we fall short, we sometimes blame God for putting this desire in us in the first place… Which is why the formula you wrote down is so important:

God + me = Impossible is nothing :)

yeu@nn said...

LOL! Your He-man story is so funny! XD But yeah, glad this post strikes a chord with you! :)

And amen to what you wrote later on bro... :D