We had a professor in graduate school that everyone referred to as “Superwoman.” I am sure she would have been embarrassed if she had known that was her nickname. Among many other admirable qualities, she was humble and nothing about the way she carried herself asked for this title.
But while buried in research and living on borrowed money and not enough sleep, we just couldn’t help ourselves. From where we stood, she was the picture of polish and achievement. Her schedule was filled with responsibilities and exciting projects and she appeared to be excelling in every arena she stepped into.
It’s been several years since I walked those graduate school halls, but the image of “superwoman” has stayed with me.
I was recently at a party and found myself in a familiar conversation. I stood in a circle of women who were discussing a friend they affectionately referred to as “superwoman.” I didn’t know the woman they were referring to but I can tell you she had an impressive resume. She fit the description of the Superwoman I have carried with me all these years – the woman who flies in the face of challenge and always lands on her feet. She looks flawless in every costume she wears. And she is a wonder of accomplishment both inside and outside the home.
As I stood in my uncomfortable high heels with my plastic plate of crackers and grapes, I realized that I knew everything about this woman and didn’t know her at all.
I have no idea what she dreams about when the clutter in her mind clears. I have no idea what breaks her heart. I don’t have a clue about the pain underneath her perfected defenses, or the story that formed both.
I think we have it wrong.
It is important that we celebrate with our friends as they live their passions and realize their dreams, but I am worried that we have put Superwoman in a box that’s too small.
We have defined her as an image instead of an individual who is made in the image of God.
I fear that we have forgotten that it is our vulnerabilities and not our abilities that connect us to one another.
I worry that we have considered our strength to be in our own natural gifting rather than in the supernatural power of God.
Superwoman is not driven by a costume, but by her calling. Superwoman is any woman who is living the life she is called to live.
My goddaughter is four and I am not sure how she fits such a big personality and so many God-given gifts into such a tiny body. It is an honor and a delight to have a front-row seat to her life and I am eagerly anticipating the joy of watching the story that God has written for her play before my eyes.
I recently watched her play dress up with her friends and she happened to be wearing a cape.
As I watched her giggle and twirl in circles on the living room floor, my hope for her in that moment was that she would never try to squeeze her dreams, her gifting, or her calling into a box that is too small.
My prayer for her life is one that I would pray for each of us – that her story would fly free of worldly specifications and reflect the way she has been specifically designed by God. And that she would always know that it is not her costume, but her character and created being that defines her as the Superwoman she will always be.