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I have a very boring superpower. I’m incredibly dependable—like German Shepherds, alarm clocks, and Swiss trains. Most people, myself included, dream of far more exciting powers. Wouldn’t it be great to be a star athlete, an Einstein-level math whiz, an opera singer? Or even possess the comic book powers of flight, invisibility, and superhuman strength?
Nope. Like Disney’s “Old Reliable” I got dependability. But wait— it’s not as boring as you may think, and it’s a gift I actually relish. From where I sit, much of the world seems to be lacking this trait. Flakes and no-shows abound. People promise and then don’t deliver. RSVPs are useless. Deadlines get missed routinely. “My word is my bond” seems like a phrase from the 1500s or something. Okay, it is a phrase from the 1500s (and even from Biblical times if you want to be a stickler). But it’s a good idea that never should have fallen out of fashion.
In Joni’s world, you absolutely do what you say you will. If I tell you I’ll deliver at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, you will see me there at 9:45. (Excluded from this commitment is the delivery of my children, every one of whom was wildly late, as if God was already teaching me a talent I did not receive, patience.)
Many of our talents are inborn. I think I was also blessed with a naturally cheery disposition. We can all make lists of the strengths we were given and a few more we’ve developed as we’ve navigated life. But along with those strengths, we also know we have weaknesses. What can we do about those?
President Russell M. Nelson said, “We should not be discouraged or depressed by our shortcomings. No one is without weakness. As part of the divine plan, we are tested to see whether we will master weakness or let weakness master us.”
When we are weak in a crucial area, we can pray for the talents we lack. Don’t see your gifts as a finite bag of blessings, but as a starter set. We can pray for expansion kits! Maybe you’re in a crisis and you need creativity. Maybe your grief is suffocating you and you need an extra measure of faith and hope. If could be a family member is challenging you and you need more compassion and understanding. Maybe you’re prone to a particular temptation and you need stronger resolve. Throughout life we all fall short, and we all need God to help us make up the difference.
Remember that He is a father and a teacher. He helps us develop skills, learn from our experiences, and gain the secular knowledge we need, in addition to spiritual growth. Most people think they missed the talent train entirely, or will acknowledge they have one or two above-average abilities. But this is not true; they possess all kinds of superpowers that they simply haven’t noticed or used, yet. And those they truly lack, they can pray for. How often have we weathered an emotional storm or survived a terrible ordeal and looked back, stunned that we got through it? That’s because we used talents we didn’t even know we had—fortitude, determination, hard work, courage, forgiveness, and on and on.
Talents aren’t just the ones that earn Olympic Medals or applause in a theatre. The best talents shape us into better disciples of Jesus Christ: Kinder, more refined people who consistently show love and caring.
Ah, consistency. There’s another superpower we can all use. Everyone has days when they feel generous, grateful, and willing to sacrifice. Then we have those selfish, pouty days that interrupt our otherwise grand performance. So maybe humility and the desire to repent can be your superpower. Maybe self-forgiveness is your superpower.
I think great teaching is a superpower. Our Savior certainly demonstrated the importance of the kind of teaching that changes lives. What a joy it is to be taught by someone who really knows how to motivate you to improve, and to discover eternal truths. That’s a talent we can all aspire to have. It’s no coincidence that we all get to take turns at teaching in the organized church of his restored gospel. We also get daily opportunities to practice teaching as parents, employees, and friends. We are to use our talents to bless others, and this one has the awesome potential to do that.
Which brings me to friendliness. Jesus Christ was a people person. Yes, you can be shy or introverted, yes you can dislike crowds and public speaking. That’s fine—we all have different personalities. But you can’t be a sincere follower of Christ and dislike humankind. We have to see one another as brothers and sisters, we have to care, and we have to lift those we’re able to. This is what he commanded us to do. So let sincere friendliness manifest itself in whatever way is true to you, and it can be your strongest superpower. It’s also essential for missionary work.
Another great superpower is the skill of listening. I mean really listening with your whole heart, trying to understand another person and almost step inside his soul with empathy. Too many of us want to speak or be understood, rather than allowing someone else to be completely vulnerable and able to trust us. What a gift listening is, and it’s one we can all develop if we try.
A radiant testimony is another superpower– when you simply glow from what you know. I love to be around these people, to look into their shining eyes, and to draw strength from them. They bolster me when I’m sinking, they enlighten me with their insights, they make me want to be my best self. They know the difference between being pushy and simply setting a great example. They freely express their love of the Lord, yet they never make the listener feel lectured. What a magnetic superpower! Who wouldn’t love to bask in such a person’s presence?
The greatest superpower, of course, is the power of the Priesthood. And, while this can be bestowed upon any male member of age, it takes the work of the individual to actually ignite it. Obedience and righteousness catapult this power into an actual life-changing force. Worthy women can benefit from and call upon this power as well.
Notice how many of these superpowers are actually rather quiet? It doesn’t mean they’re boring. Superpowers don’t all have to accompany loud sound tracks. We’ve all seen superhero movies—and many more will yet be made—but wouldn’t it be the coolest thing if one of those action figures actually possessed a superpower that truly matters eternally– a superpower that honestly emulated Christ? I’m sure true fans will be able to cite examples of character growth and genuine caring in some of the bodysuit-wearing crusaders who grace the movie screens.
I just think it would be awesome if we all realized we’re every bit as super, but in ways that matter even more, ways we may not have discovered yet, ways we can realize through earnest prayer to our Father in Heaven.
Hilton’s LDS novel, Golden, is available in paperback and on Kindle. All her books and YouTubeMom videos can be found on her website. She currently serves as an Interfaith Specialist for Public Affairs.