The Smith Family is full Incredibles get-up at WDW’s Not So Scary Halloween 2013

From the first time I saw it,  I loved the movie The Incredibles. With an older daughter and two sons, our family lines up as the characters do and we’ve always enjoyed identifying with each of our characters. From quoting movie lines, to sporting gear, to dressing up in costume, we Smiths are serious Incredible fans.

Obviously, Helen is the character I hope to emulate most. Who doesn’t want to to be a mom who can rock black leather thigh-high boots? You’ve gotta have goals! I love Helen’s practicality in how she handles the day to day, her sense of humor and the witty way she responds to the world. But what I admire most about her is how she tackles danger while protecting her family (and, ultimately, the planet).  She is not naïve about the threats to her family or to herself, but Helen refuses react in fear. My favorite scene in the movie is when Elastagirl must save herself and her children, Dash and Violet when their plane is demolished by a missile. As they careen toward the ocean, Elastagirl morphs into a parachute and lands the three of them gently into the water. As the ravaged, burning metal of their jet crashes about them. Dash and Violet are hysterical, screaming in terror and flailing about. Elastagirl, however, quiets them and sternly instructs, “I tell you what we’re not going to do: we are not going to panic!

And she doesn’t. Instead, Helen is discerning and calculating. She does not disregard danger, nor does she underplay it; She is realistic about it. When the villains come after her family, Helen warns her children that these are “bad guys who will not use restraint”; Dash and Violet must use their gifts, their powers to defend themselves. She implores them to be level-headed, remain calm, but know that they have business to do.

That’s how I’ve felt about Covid these days. Like Helen, I’m telling my kids, “we are not going to panic.” Yes,  a lot seems scary out there.  We have friends who have gotten sick, we know that people have died, and we have loved ones that are considered “high risk.” But we are not going to panic. We are looking at this “bad guy” and we’re going to do all within our powers to combat it. Like Helen, we gather information on the foe; we are realistic about what we’re up against. Then, we make sure we are prepared. We listen to doctors’ podcasts, read articles about staying healthy. We exercise, choose food to support our health and are take our vitamins every day.  We wash our hands regularly. We wear our masks when we go to public spaces. Then we wash our hand some more. We’ve even had Covid tests just to “be sure.” We may not have super powers, but we know we must do what is in our power to protect ourselves and those around us.

I have to admit that not panicking is not as easy as Elastagirl makes it seem. I used to panic quite regularly, actually. Panicking looks differently for each of us. For me it looked like standing in front of the wide-flung pantry doors with my head in a box of Cheez-its franticly munching as I faced the bad news du jour. Or maybe it was trying to relax myself with that third glass of wine on a Tuesday night. I knew these panicking methods weren’t really paying off for me because in the end I never really felt better, but these seemed to be quick easy methods of consoling myself in the face of fear. It’s not that it was bad, it just didn’t provide the peace I ultimately desired. It has taken me a while, but once I began to think about how I truly wanted to be in the world and who I wanted my children to see,
  I knew I wanted to demonstrate a life not lived in fear, a life in which I didn’t make decisions while panicked.

 That’s when I realized I needed to dig in to faith. Even more than I am an Incredibles fan, I try to live my best as a devoted follower of God. When so many headlines read negative, it can be overwhelming. It can be difficult to hear  His voice, to remember we’re not alone in this. I struggle to remind myself of the words of Joshua 1:9:

“Have I not commanded you be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

I read that in my Helen Parr voice and repeat to myself: We are not going to panic.” 

Instead, we must rely on the gifts we’ve been given to protect ourselves and those around us and know that mighty God is with us.

It doesn’t feel very super hero-y, but what it looks like for me when I practice not panicking isn’t morphing into a parachute, but taking a deep breath.  Remaining calm. Sometimes I sit down with a pen and a journal and write about what’s upsetting me in order to clarify my feelings and to help myself brainstorm solutions.  Sometimes I pull out my Bible to refresh in God’s word. Sometimes I call a friend and just say “I’m having a rough time, can you listen for a minute?” It’s hard. Being level-headed takes practice. And perhaps a little courage. It required patience to lean into the solutions that are time consuming and don’t seem as appealing as the theoretically “quick fixes.” But in the end, we’ll be stronger for it.

Sometimes what you really need is to simply stop. Take a breath. Perhaps enjoy a warm beverage in an insprining mug.