On a lark, I forwarded an e-mail quiz entitled “20 Things You Never Knew About Me” to several friends. With 20 questions ranging from “What was your first job?” to “If you could live anywhere on earth, where would it be?,” I hardly expected a spiritual revelation in the replies.
On question 17, “If you could have one super power, what would it be?,” my other friends had answered, “to be invisible so I could sneak onto airplanes and travel the world,” or “the power to read minds so I knew who really liked me.” But Dr. Scott Chadwick, Provost at Xavier University, humbly said, “the power to make others feel loved.”
The answer stopped me in my tracks. First, why had I never thought of love as a super power? And why had I only ever thought of super powers that would benefit me? But I think what scared me the most about his answer was the realization that I could have that power if I really, truly wanted it. In fact, everyone has that power. I’m just not sure it is the power we want the most.
St. Ignatius called retreatants to meditate on the Two Standards: the way of the world vs. the way of Christ. The way of the world begins with “me” as the starting point and seeking to define my identity through the status markers of the world such as money, power, popularity, and pleasure. The way of Christ begins with God as the starting point and seeking to define my identity in response to the love and gifts God has lavishly given me. So, under which standard would desiring the super power of “making others feel loved” fall?
Suddenly I understood Marianne Williamson’s quote, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” The toughest question on my quiz should have been, “You have the power to make every person you encounter feel loved. Will you use it?”