A superhero is typically defined as a good person with superhuman powers. But what if a superhero is really just an everyday human who chooses to do good?

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

We have a friend—Gary Bonacker—who was diagnosed with brain cancer. After surgery, during which only half of the egg-sized tumor in his brain was removed, Gary established a multi-distance cycling event—Tour des Chutes, named after the Deschutes River flowing through the middle of our town. This annual event raised more than $1.25 million for children and adults with cancer. He wasn’t supposed to live long enough to do all that.

Gary’s a superhero.

Dan and I recently spent a couple mornings doing some spring cleaning in his yard. Gary can’t do yardwork. He’s not nearly as certain on his feet as he was several years back when he sped down steep, rocky trails on his bike.

Gary Bonacker on right

Gary Bonacker today

One morning, as we were pulling weeds and raking, a woman approached the yard. I stood up and introduced myself and told her how we knew Gary. Her name is Theresa, and she was Gary’s ride to cancer treatment that day. Gary can’t drive any more.

Turns out, Theresa has the same type of brain cancer Gary has. Only, she’s earlier in the game. And here she is at his front door. Who does that? Who accompanies a cancer patient to treatment while dealing with cancer treatments herself?

Theresa. Another superhero.

My husband, Dan, has superhero powers. He runs to help people. He repairs, and replaces, and unclogs, and updates, and installs stuff. He especially enjoys serving those who are maybe a little older and on a fixed income.

It doesn’t take much to be a superhero.

Does your superhero strength include being a good listener? Then maybe go for a gentle walk with a cancer patient and listen well.

Are you a kid magnet? You know that co-worker of yours who’s a single mom? Offer to take her kids to the park and for frozen yogurt afterward. 

Do you enjoy creating delicious concoctions in your kitchen? Then how about delivering a meal to the neighbor down the street who adopted a child with special needs?

Do you have financial resources? Consider helping fund the high school student on his summer mission trip to Dominican Republic.

Does your superhero power involve a green thumb? Why not arrange flowers from your garden in a Mason jar and visit a shut-in?

Ann Voskamp in her book, Be the Gift, writes:

“What if instead of waiting for good enough things to happen to us, we could be the good thing to happen to someone else who’s waiting? What if abundant living isn’t about what you can expect from life, but what life can expect from you?”

Ann Voskamp

The world benefits when you put your superhero skills to good use.

Take time to volunteer at the place that helps make life better for the underserved. Take your medical experience on a medical missions trip. Take a specialty class … as the teacher, because you have the computer/ sewing/ painting/ writing skills. Take your neighbors’ kids out for a play date so she can rest with her newborn.

Stepping outside your comfort zone to discover that you’re good at something … well, encourages you to continue stepping out in service to others.

What are your strengths, your hobbies, your skills? What energizes you? What life experiences make you knowledgeable about something?

How can you use your superhero-ness to make a difference in the life of someone else this week … and at the same time, provide some meaning for your own life?

It doesn’t take much to be a superhero.