What’s Your Kryptonite?
As a young child, I had a relatively small physical stature. I wasn’t the shortest kid in the class, but there were more kids my size and taller, than not. Having not even broken 5 feet tall at the age of twelve, I was what you might call a late bloomer. Of course, in High School, I shot up and the whole issue became moot, to the point of some of my friends referring to me as the “big guy.” (Then I came to California where a lot of the women are close to 6 feet tall, but that’s another story.)
But when I was younger, as you can imagine, one of my favorite superheroes was Superman because he was practically invulnerable. He didn’t have to be afraid of anyone or anything. And he had amazing strength—you know, “able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, able to stop a locomotive with his bare hands…” and all along, he was a mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent.
Every boy wanted to be superman, right? But one thing I never thought too much about was his one weakness, his “Achilles’ Heel” so to speak: Kryptonite. Darn! There was something that could bring the Man of Steel down. Something that could render this near demigod feeble, even kill him. Not the perfect hero after all. It turns out, this made for a great fictional character. Not so great for superman, but great for stories.
In life, I often wonder what kind of kryptonite I have. Admittedly, I’m no superman, but there are certain areas in life which could render me as vulnerable as the glowing green rock can to Mr. Kent’s alter ego.
If I could identify my Kryptonite and remove it from my life, I might just have the ability to be a superman of some sort, right?
Well, I thought about it and I figured it out (at least one of them). It’s offense. That’s right. One of my (and perhaps yours?) greatest Kryptonites is getting offended. Wow, you say, that’s not as rare as Kryptonite—it’s as common as dirt. You heard right. We all get offended. To varying degrees, an offense can cause damage ranging from annoyance to a lifetime of bitterness and self-destruction. And the worst thing is, we can’t eliminate the possibility of its occurrence. It’s as inevitable as death and taxes. And we can’t control how other people will think, speak or act, so in this life, there WILL be offenses. Lots of them.
Many people have fallen victims to offenses. I’m not writing to condemn or shame anyone, but think about this. Do you know someone who has been holding a grudge for years? Do you know someone who hasn’t spoken to another person who was once close because of an offense? Do you know someone who is deeply depressed because of an offense, whether deliberate or not?
Let’s not trivialize this. People can hold onto offenses which can act like cancer cells. Offenses can grow and metastasize into every area of your life until it consumes you. Countless tragedies from personal estrangement to wars can be traced back to offenses, so they are a real threat to our peace (both inner and global.)
Back to Kryptonite: What if we were to remove Superman’s vulnerability to Kryptonite, what would happen? He’d be utterly invulnerable.
What if you could remove the effect of offense in your life? What would this world look like if people didn’t get offended by others? What would the world look like? What would your life look like?
Imagine being as confident as Superman standing before Lex Luther’s machine gun. You know that what the offender did was wrong, unjust, mean, or just stupid. And yet, the bullets bounce off, the flaming darts fizzle, and they fall feebly to the ground.
One of the reasons we react so strongly to offenses are because they hurt. And we don’t want to get hurt again. But if you could choose not to let that haughty glance, that snubbing or rudeness affect you emotionally, if you could know that you could chose to let them bounce off of you as the bullets from Superman’s chest, then you wouldn’t be afraid. Then you could smile, laugh, and walk away. Or you could stand up and do what’s right in the face of the offense, without sinking to Lex Luther’s level and retaliating in kind (or at least passive-aggressively.)
Here’s the good news: You can remove the Kryptonite from your life. How? It’s through forgiveness. By forgiving you aren’t condoning the actions of the Lex Luthers in your life. Nor are you inviting a repeat of the harmful act. But you are removing your own emotional vulnerability to that person’s actions or words.
Think of unforgiveness, or self-righteousness as Kryptonite. No matter how hard Superman grips the Kryptonite, it won’t make Lex Luther stop what he’s doing. In fact, it will in and of itself kill Superman, and Lex Luther doesn’t have to lift a finger.
Thankfully for Metropolis and the whole world of DC Comics, Superman knows to rid himself of any Kryptonite that gets near him. Hopefully, we’ll identify ours and do the same.
What’s your Kryptonite?
Joshua Graham is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, winner of the International Book Award and Forward National Literature Award. His thrillers include DARKROOM, LATENT IMAGE and BEYOND JUSTICE, and TERMINUS. Graham's works have been characterized as thought-provoking page-turners.
Legal Notice: All information on this website and blog are from Mr. Graham's personal experience and insight and should not be viewed in any way, directly or inferred, as qualified professional advice.
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