Daddy was my first Valentine. Superman was my second.
I cleaned out my parents’ house after their deaths and found a baseball card-type picture of Superman. I’d scrawled inside a cartoon bubble “I love you.”
I spent the next four decades looking for a real, huggable Superman. For a man to sweep me up and rescue me from all harm and woe.
At 25, I thought I’d found him. He was a police officer. I didn’t make the connection then to Superman. I expected a lot. I learned he was too busy rescuing other people to rescue me.
Dad died the summer of 2006. Overwhelmed with duties as caregiver to Mom, I cried to God for a protector. I meant a husband. I was 39 years old and still thought a Superman could rescue me.
Enter Jeff. The month after the funeral we began dating. He was a police officer, too. He called me his kryptonite. But he, too, was busy rescuing other people, on and off the job. And busy chasing women 15 years younger than him.
I admitted then I’d been looking for a hero all my life, and the type wasn’t working for me. I had to stop the bleeding. I was 40 and never married. I vowed not to look for Superman anymore.
I met Richard on a church camping trip. He didn’t wear a uniform with a badge. He didn’t command authority at work. He didn’t stick out his chest and race to calm the distress of damsels.
And yet he was strong. We found $300 cash in a parking lot, and he left his number at a business in case anyone claimed it. He fixed toilets and installed drywall at needy church members’ homes. He held me when I cried.
I married Richard in March 2009. He was by my side that same year when I checked my mother’s pulse. She was dead.
We find strength in many places. Sometimes the things that look the strongest are the weakest. Sometimes the things that look the weakest are the strongest. And sometimes our fears get in the way of recognizing the difference.
Grief feels like weakness sometimes, and sometimes people mistake it for weakness. But some of the strongest people I know have grieved the most. Grief can bring out the worst in us. It can make us angry and bitter. Grief also can burn away trivial qualities and build character. We learn to love better, empathize deeper and appreciate everything.
We may become our own Superman. And yet we know we aren’t eternally strong and capable. Who will protect us then?
I found my Superman. No, I’m not talking about my husband. I’m talking about God. Eventually I learned – and still must be reminded occasionally – that even the best humans will disappoint us, fail us and abuse us. Only God fits the Superman hole in my heart.
I heard Charlie Puth’s song, One Call Away, several years ago on the car radio. It played on a secular station, and I suppose it was supposed to be a love song. What I heard was God telling us – tell me – he’d always be available for a rescue.
I’m only one call away
I’ll be there to save the day
Superman’s got nothing on me
I’m only one call away
Consider it God’s Valentine to you today.
God mailed the Valentine. Now it’s your option to receive it. In plain English, ask him today for help. For rescue. Fancy words aren’t necessary. He’s approachable. He loves you.
Copyright © 2020 by Toni Lepeska. All rights reserved. www.tonilepeska.com