When life hands you lemons (Lessons from Batman)

I came across a great quote the other day from @TheBatman on twitter. His quote made its way into one of my books, so watch for that. The quote is:
When life gives you lemons, be thankful it’s just lemons. Life could have shot both your parents in a dirty alley when you were 8.

Love him or hate him, you can’t beat Batman for angst.

For a moment, I want you to pretend that Batman is real and that you don’t cringe when you watch Ben Affleck as Batman and that your eyes weren’t scorched by Lego Batman in his underwear. Somewhere after the shame of George Clooney and landing right in Christian Bale’s capable hands. Anyway, my point is — pretend he’s real.

The part of Batman’s story that has always seemed the most tragic to me isn’t his parent’s murder. Yes, that was horrible. However, what cripples Batman’s life is that he never emotionally left the alley. If you stop and think about it: he’s a billionaire, with a huge house, money, really cool cars and toys, an amazing butler and chef (please, please come live at my house, Alfred!), and a girl who loves him. He gets invited to the best parties. He owns his own business, and the whole city looks to him when they’re in trouble. In other words, he has a purpose.

But in spite of all of this, Batman is miserable. Arrogant, but miserable.

You see, he missed out on one huge fact in his story and it was the one fact that should have made all the difference — He lived. He didn’t die in that alley. But that didn’t stop him from building his emotional tent in the alley and never leaving. He can’t enjoy his life because he went through fire and flood and instead of moving on, rebuilding, he chose to live in the ash.

A couple of days ago, I was talking to a friend of mine on a particularly tough day. My son, Noah, had just come out of the hospital the day before, and my friend was also going through something major. With tears, she said to me, “I wish I could just go back to the days of everyone having babies and getting married. Everyone I know is going through tragedy now.”

It broke my heart because I knew exactly what she meant. I thought about those in my close circle, and so many of the dear people in my life are in the middle of something unbelievably hard.

But ever since that moment, I’ve felt God impressing this message on my heart: Don’t wallow in the flood, and don’t camp in the fire. The alleyway is dark and may feel like death, but you aren’t meant to live there — you live through it, not in it.

We all go through impossibly hard things. All of us. We live in a broken, fallen world where tough things happen. At some point, all of us might have Batman’s alley moment, and if you don’t want to wind up with a dark and twisty soul, you have to be careful not to pitch your emotional tent in the pain and darkness.

I think this is the very point of hope in dark times. Hope is literally the light at the end of the tunnel, the cops coming to your aid in the alley, the sound of a rescue helicopter. Hope says that this moment isn’t forever. There will come a day when this dark time will become part of your testimony. Hope leads you through the fire and the water and causes you not to camp in the ash, but to look for God’s goodness in spite of the disaster.

As the Psalmist David said, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear. Your rod and your staff they comfort me…” (Psalm 23) The keyword is THROUGH, and remembering that no matter what comes — you are not alone.

My husband has a coffee mug that says, “Always be yourself, unless you can be Batman, then be Batman.” But while Batman definitely wins on the gadgets, guts, and glory — in terms of quality of life, Batman still manages to lose. Don’t be like Batman. Don’t let your heart become stuck in dark places. Keep walking, focus on the air in your lungs and realize that as long as it’s there, you’re a living miracle. You are a survivor. God is with us through the floods and the fire, He leads us with His mercy, and on the other side, He fights to redeem the hard parts our story for our good. If we die, we go to be with Him. If we live, even our scars can testify to His goodness.

My oldest son has a four-inch scar on his stomach from the emergency appendectomy that saved his life two weeks ago today. But as I told him in the other day, that scar is a reminder that he is a miracle. I look at that scar, and I think of how God saved his life. So if you smell like smoke, it’s a reminder that you weren’t consumed by fire. If your life is a little soggy, you still have life. As long as we breathe, we hope.

But your quality of life from here is all about not camping in the alley.

And Batman, if you’re reading my blog, forgiveness is your ticket out, sweet boy. Take a deep breath, thank God for that air, and walk on. It’s time.

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