If you could be a superhero, what special power would you choose to have? I’m a high school English teacher, so there are very few new writing prompts under the sun that I haven’t seen or tried to use. This one was a bellwork journal prompt for my Theatre 1 class a few weeks ago, and I received the usual answers: “X-ray vision!” “Reading minds!” “Controlling people!” “Super strength!” You know, every superpower that has already shown up in every comic book or vampire story ever published. I didn’t write a teacher model for responding to this prompt, partly because I knew they could figure it out easily and partly because I just didn’t want to make a decision. Today, weeks after that bellwork, I decided that I was ready to take the plunge and choose my superhero power.
Guess what? I already have it. I am…AN INCUBATOR! I have focused my entire world around incubation and the process of incubating and learning to be a better incubator who incubates things that require incubation. I have a special power to create an environment favorable for growing and developing. I did this through two pregnancies when I literally incubated my babies inside my body, and I am still doing this (albeit a little less literally) as I incubate my sons through their childhood years. I do this every day in my classroom, creating learning experiences and opportunities in an attempt to force (yes, force because standardized testing requires that I actively make it happen somehow!) my students to become better readers, writers, and thinkers. I nurture and cultivate and work diligently to keep the learning environment optimal at home and at school, even when I’m just not feeling it anymore and I really just want to blow up and yell at everyone. However, yelling and blowing up messes up the incubation environment, so I have to tamp it down and keep the temperature of my figurative little incubation machine regulated.
Ultimately, the purpose of incubation, whether the recipient is a premature baby in a hospital or bird eggs in a nest, or even a virus waiting to become an immunization, is for a final release. The baby goes home to be cared for by parents, the eggs hatch into baby birds, and the virus is used in a concoction to become a shot. Being an incubator is a tough job. The superheroes with x-ray vision or superhuman strength can use their powers immediately and save people right away. An incubator’s powers…well, getting the results takes a little bit longer. Sometimes after spending all day incubating other people’s kids and then coming home to yet more people demanding my time, attention, and incubation abilities, this incubator runs out of patience. This incubator runs out of patience and time and sleep and sometimes even the general ability to care about doing anything productive.
I’d like to end this with some kind of positive, uplifting statement about how I know I can do it and it will all be worth it in the end, but I’m not there at the moment. I’m still in the middle. I keep plugging along, day after day, because I know incubation is the superpower I’ve been given, not because I see the end in sight. I do it because God has called me to be faithful even in the middle, to continue seeking Him and searching for Him even in the wilderness times, like the Israelites during their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. The Israelites didn’t do it, and that’s where they lost sight of all that God had done for them and instead exchanged Him for worthless idols. I want to overturn the idols that call to me and instead continue my daily incubation tasks, all in the ultimate pursuit of my Savior. He has created me to be an incubator, and I must be faithful to continue incubating. Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for man. -Colossians 3:23, HCSB
Come to think of it, I’m not just supposed to be faithful to keep incubating day after day…I’ve got to be sure that I am incubating ENTHUSIASTICALLY!