I read an article about study a few years ago, that said that kids will work longer at a difficult task if they are dressed up as batman.
Kids were set up with a task that was intentionally boring and arduous. These 4-6 year olds were also told that whenever they wanted they could choose go on to something more fun, which was, unsurprisingly, games on a tablet. One group of kids was encouraged to ask themselves if they were working hard, and for another group someone asked in the third person “Is [child’s name] working hard?” But then there was the third group. This group was given their choice of costume—Batman and Dora the Explorer being favorites—and then was asked at regular intervals “Is Batman working hard?” The results were that the kids who were dressed and pictured themselves as a superheroes were able to persist longer at the task.
I’ve been thinking of this in the midst of the conversations about what you want to be for Halloween. Following the example of children, we get the sense that we could be bigger, and braver, stronger, more dramatic and maybe even more heroic just by putting on a costume.
We know that the world can be full of things that can wear us down. We can be worn down from the big heavy parts of life, the daily onslaught of the news, the challenges to which we fear we may not be enough, and just the daily tasks of one thing after the next. It can be exhausting. And I know how hard it is for folks. Resilience is not something required every once in a while, but part of the work of arising each day and recommitting to be loving, to be courageous, to be honest, and to be faithful.
It is good that we do not just carry our own names in this world, but that each of us is known and named as a child of God. You are not on your own, you do not need to rest on your own powers. But instead you are God’s beloved, and are called to show this love to the world.
In this week where we don our costumes and imagine who we could be, remember who you are: Child of God, Follower of Christ, called by the Holy Spirit. We are called to be the church in this time and place, and we have faith that God is equipping us for that task: to be courageous for the sake of love. You aren’t just [your name here] doing the laundry, you are a child of God showing love in the world. You aren’t just seeing [your loved one] finding their way amidst hardship, you are seeing their acts of courage to get up one more time, when it felt impossible. You aren’t just witnessing [your community] doing the work day after day, you are seeing voices raised in justice, acts of determined care, love when it felt impossible, and sometimes even a glimpse of the Kindom of God on earth.
So folks, you are already clothed in the love of God just as you are, fully known and fully loved. And if you need a special reminder, its ok to wear a cape.
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