Being Confident of This

Grace for the work-in-progress woman

The Superwoman Myth

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This will be a slightly interactive post since I’m adapting it from a Mother’s Day talk I’ll be giving this weekend.  I’d love for you to take the time to actually do the interactive parts (at beginning and end), if you feel so led.

Beginning Activity:  Write down (or think of) the personality trait that you dislike most about yourself.  For example: I am shy, I am too loud, I have a temper, I am impatient, and so forth.  Hold onto this until the end.

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A few weeks ago, my seven-year-old son came to me after receiving a scolding and said something that shook me to the core: “Mom, sometimes I feel like you expect me to be perfect.”  Immediately my eyes burned with tears because I knew that feeling, the feeling of not being good enough, and I certainly did not want my child to ever fear that he wasn’t “good enough” for me!  Nevertheless, somehow I had sent that message to him, and although unintentional on my part, I felt overwhelmed by conviction and sadness, and then by guilt.

It was one of those mommy moments when I realized that I had become exactly the kind of mother I did NOT want to be.  You see, God’s been speaking to me about this issue lately, about my tendency toward perfectionism.  When my young son brought this problem to the forefront I realized that I’m not the only one affected by it.  It’s not only frustrating for me, but it’s something that often negatively effects my relationships with others also. For these reasons, perfectionism is a trait I have that I greatly dislike.

So why do so many of us women struggle with perfectionism and other personality flaws?  Because we have bought into the Superwoman Myth.  You know, the myth about the woman who does it all and does it perfectly!!  Wouldn’t we all love to be that supreme woman, to bask in the knowledge that we ROCK at being women – everyday in every thing and all of the time.

Unfortunately, we realize that we often fall very short of this ideal.  If Superwoman truly exists, she certainly is difficult to find in our everyday lives.

The first contributor to this myth is self.  How many times have you written yourself a to-do list a mile long and actually expected to get most of those tasks accomplished?  And at the end of the day when you have only made it to number 4, how do you feel?  Frustrated? Discouraged?

Or consider this: How often do you feel like you’re making so much progress in one area, only to discover you’re completely falling apart in another?

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Although some of us may come close on a given day, soaring above the circumstances of messy homes, sick family members, extra hours of work, and so forth, the perfect mother, the perfect wife, sister, friend, daughter, child of God – she does not exist!

Instead of listening to the lies perpetuated by our superwoman-wannabe selves, let’s listen to the truths our Creator God has to say about us.  Psalm 139:13-14 tells us,

“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.”

God created you purposefully and intentionally to be who you are.  While he did not create you to sin, He did create you with your unique personality, your unique strengths and weaknesses. Even those things we tend to see as our weaknesses can become strengths with His help.  Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10,

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

The personality traits we so often view as flaws have positive aspects to them, sisters. For example, while my perfectionism easily leads to worry and sin, it is incredibly helpful for tasks that require attention to detail.  Likewise, people who are argumentative may be difficult to get along with, yet their make excellent lawyers and advocates for others.  Those who are easy-going may lack organizational skills, but they are great friends and listeners.

Let’s find the beauty in being who God created us to be.  Let’s allow Him to work in our weaknesses to make us strong.

Although prideful self has much to do with perpetuating the Superwoman Myth, prideful self is often accompanied by a focus on others. While self focuses more on our own perceived character flaws, a focus on others leads to a whole other host of lies.  How many of us can honestly say that we’ve never compared ourselves to another woman...ever?!

None of us can.  Especially in this age of social media, we are very aware of the skills other women have, whether the skills lie in business, in being friendly, in being a great parent, in being an excellent cook, in being an artist, and on and on and on.

Furthermore, we often envy those things in others that we feel we are lacking. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to admire others and to challenge ourselves to grow.  We definitely want to be the best wife/mother/sister/daughter/aunt/whatever we can possibly be.

The problem is that sometimes when we see all of this womanly awesomeness out there, we wish that we could be someone we are not, someone we were never created to be.  We wish we could be more … more pretty, more popular, more successful in a career, more creative, more successful in homemaking or parenting – you fill in the blank!

But the beauty of a relationship with God is that it’s personal, unique to the individual.  While all women are similar in that we are imperfect sinners, saved only by the belief that Christ’s shed blood paid the penalty of death we so deserved, we can be very different in the way we live our faith out.

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 I Corinthians 12:12-20 confirms this idea:

 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”

We each have a part to play in the body of Christ, and He’s created each of us uniquely to fulfill the role He’s planned out for us.  So the next time you feel unworthy, inadequate, or that you just don’t have anything “special” to offer, remember that God created you to be you, and that He created you to fulfill your role and yours alone.

I know some of us overachievers like to think we can take on ALL of the roles, but that’s not God’s intention. 😉 His intention is for me to be the best Jen that I can be, not the best Suzy or Katherine, and the best Jen might look very different from the best Kelly or the best Michelle.

Now, isn’t that truth freeing?

Look for Part 2 of the Superwoman Myth here.

 

Jen 🙂

 

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When Temptation Lingers Near

Today I want to share with something I wrote many months ago.  It was written during a time of discouragement and trials galore.  My husband and I were both under a lot of external stress, both personal and from ministry, and our marriage temporarily suffered.  I felt like one of the Israelites in the desert, bemoaning my situation and feeling helpless to enact change.

When I first wrote it, I was not intending to ever share it anywhere.  The words just sort of poured out in the middle of my frustration and attempt to make sense of the chaos around me.  I often find that writing helps me to communicate with God and understand the wisdom He’s trying to impart.  So, I share it with you today, hoping that it may encourage you if you’re facing a situation that seems impossible or a day, or even a moment, that seems unbearable.  I hope you find comfort in the fact that you are not alone and that He always provides a way out!

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It’s almost supper time, but the stove top sits empty and no pleasing aromas fragrance the air.  I’ve not even yet decided what to cook, let alone made any sort of preparations.  Instead, I’m sitting in my bedroom trying desperately to pray while my preschoolers whine for attention right outside of the bedroom door.  My husband, whom I’ve just argued with, sits just outside the door as well at the dining room table.  He’s grumbling over the budget and seems unaware of the noise around him.  There is no peace, no quiet.

But I NEED to pray because I am one moment away from falling into temptation.  One moment from allowing my impatience, anger, resentment, and frustration to spill over onto my family.  One moment away from blowing any chance at doing right.  At this moment I am certain, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Satan has set his sights on me; I’m being tested.

It isn’t the first of such evenings in my home.  In fact, our marriage relationship has been under strain for a few months now, and I’ve grown oh-so-weary of “fighting the good fight.”  However, this past week, God has shown me the truth of my situation; I haven’t been doing my part, either.  I have been selfish.  I have been lazy.  I have been avoiding the time with my Lord that I need.  Thus, I recently resolved to make some positive changes, knowing full well that temptation would linger near.

So as I sit here in my room praying while the chaos rages just outside of the door, I laugh.  Yes, I laugh!  It’s absurd, even comical, that every other person in my home (and there are five) would suddenly become distractions at the very moment I attempt to find peace.  I want to complain to the Lord that I’m trying so hard to do what is right, to seek Him in my moment of weakness, but He’s not making it very easy!

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In that moment of laughter, I realize the truth that as long as I’m trying to do right, to obey God, Satan is not going to leave me alone.  In fact, He’s even going to use good things like bible study and prayer against me by causing frustration and chaos at just the right moment.  Thankfully, now that God has shown me the truth of the matter, Satan cannot win.  I see his game plan for what it is, and prayer is a powerful tool!  Sorry, Satan, I’m getting up from my throne of self-pity and frustration, and I’m cooking supper tonight!

Lord, I thank you for always providing a way out for us, even when it seems impossible or unbearable!  I ask that you would encourage my sisters in Christ today to look for the way out when they face temptation. Help them to see the truth in whatever situations they face.  Remind them that You are with them always, every step of the way, even when it doesn’t feel like it.  Give them the strength they need to resist temptation and to flee the Devil and remind them of your unfailing love and grace for them because of your Son, Jesus Christ.  I ask all of these things in the name of Jesus, Amen.

Jen 🙂

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