Why We Need Adversity to Reboot Jan17

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Why We Need Adversity to Reboot

Screenshot from Voltron: Legendary Defender.
Every now and then, an event so personally significant comes along that redefines you. Not that you completely lose who you already are, but it may give you a new lens to look at the world through—and it might even be a new lens from which the world looks at you. I’ve found this to be true several times throughout my life—when I got married, had children, and changed jobs. Even my children experiencing a trauma redefines me. Those events require a new set of skills and new strength to make me useful. Each new challenge broadens and shapes me. Each challenge is an opportunity to reboot—to keep what’s useful, and to let go of things that no longer serve me.

Adventure starts with adversity, and growth often takes root in discomfort.

In the first episodes of Voltron: Legendary Defender, we meet a young cadet name Pidge; but Pidge isn’t what he seems. In episode six, “Taking Flight,” we learn that Pidge is, in fact, a girl. When her brother and father were lost on a Galaxy Garrison mission, she went in search of them. Having been caught hacking the Garrison computer as her true identity, Katie Holt, she needed to redefine herself in order to gain access to the computer without being discovered. Katie cut her hair, dressed like a boy and presented herself as Pidge Gunderson; a cadet in the Galaxy Garrison. Fate assigned her to a team with Hunk and Lance, and she ultimately becomes the Paladin of the Green Lion.

Not long after the Voltron crew members begin to trust each other, Pidge reveals to her new friends that she is a girl. All but one of them respond with little or no surprise. Lance, who is always slow on the uptake, is shocked in proper cartoon fashion—grey faced, mouth open wide, and eyes as big as dinner plates. The rest either already knew, or had suspected it. They all just accept it—accepting her for who she is—a brilliant techie, a kind and sensitive friend, an able and intuitive fighter, and a member of the team. Shiro, the leader and head of Voltron tells her, “Pidge, owning who you are is going to make you a better paladin.”

Pidge certainly becomes something new, but it isn’t a boy imposter; it is a defender of the universe. Her love for her family, faith in their survival, and desperate circumstances give her the courage and the necessity to leave behind comfort and security to become a warrior.  Pidge’s skills are put to a use that, at home with her family to look out for her, might never have been fully realized otherwise.

In October, an epilepsy medicine that my son had been prescribed put him in horrendous danger. He survived, but it’s been a long and difficult road to recovery—not to mention that his epilepsy still isn’t under control. But I see in him new strength, new maturity and resilience, and new possibilities and purpose as a result of this experience.

“Pidge, owning who you are is going to make you a better paladin.”

Because of my son’s trauma, I had to be solid, strong, and logical—things that don’t come naturally to a Sicilian mother. I thought I was pretending for the sake of everyone else, but it turned out that those traits lasted—even through brokenness. I found a new perspective, calm, and trust in God that I didn’t know I could have. And these qualities didn’t disappear. I’ve already had the chance to test them out again!

Adventure starts with adversity, and growth often takes root in discomfort. Some adventures I could do without, but my discomfort is an opportunity to reboot and redefine who I am. Not to lose who I have been, but to become something more. Pidge’s strength in becoming who she needed to be for the universe, for herself, and for her family reminds me to be who I am, and to honour what good might emerge from new and scary situations.

Jennifer Schlameuss-Perry

Jennifer Schlameuss-Perry

Staff Writer at Area of Effect
Jen is a pastoral minister, wife, mother, ninja and writer. She loves sci-fi, superheroes, and classic literature, and prefers to share her Catholic faith through such lenses. Her book, "Comic Con Christianity" will be available from Paulist Press in Spring of 2018.
Jennifer Schlameuss-Perry

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