Everyone knows a woman or two, who seem to have it all. She has the job, the family and is very active in her community. A lady who’s strong and who keeps herself along with her kiddos looking good… She portrays an image of the ideal woman, in the Bible, described in Proverbs 31. “Her children arise and call her blessed and her husband also, and he praises her.” This all sounds wonderful so I know you’re probably thinking, “Where is she going with all of this?” Well, there is one part of this passage that many people seem to leave out when encouraging women. Verse 15: “She gets up while it is still night and provides food for her family and portions for her female servants.” There it is; the three words that blew my mind, “Her female servants”. There was a season in my life when I decided to read this chapter every day to encourage myself to keep up my superwoman behavior. The revelation I got was that this woman was indeed someone to model, however, she was NOT a superwoman and definitely not alone in her efforts. She needed help.
There is clearly no such thing as a superwoman and striving to portray that image is doing more harm to women and our families than we think. Many women are simply doing too much with little or no help at all, causing many of them to be overworked, underpaid and plain old stressed out. Our ways of relieving the stress are also limited because we simply don’t set aside time for ourselves. I recently read in a Mayo Clinic article that stress that’s left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Needless to say, this condition isn’t good for any of us and it’s time to talk about it.
Unfortunately, there aren’t any female servants or “big mamas” at home helping us as we try to complete numerous tasks on a daily basis. The majority of us laugh at the idea of hiring a nanny or assistant. That also leaves the question of “Who can actually afford that privilege these days? ” Stay–at–home moms have transitioned to work–at–home moms who typically have a much heavier workload now than they ever did when actually working outside the home. With that being said our responsibilities are endless, expectations are unreasonable, our stress levels are rising and our overall health is declining. So what do we do about it?
A therapist once told me that I need to be the best version of myself in order to help others. How could I be the best version of “myself” when I neglect “myself” to serve everyone else? You see, I had become everyone’s “go to” person and yet I had no one conveniently at my service. These thoughts kept rising; “Where was my female servant?“ “Who will help me with my children while I’m reaching out and helping other moms with theirs?“ “Who will help me with this huge project that I have been tasked with to fulfill someone else’s goals?” “Is it selfish of me to desire some type of help?” Many people would say I was complaining but was it really a complaint or just being transparent about a situation while taking necessary actions to improve it? You see, at this point many women don’t need the repetitive cliche’ affirmations and quotes (ie. You’re strong, God got you, just lean on the Lord, I don’t know how you do it, you’re superwoman..etc.). Many of these women don’t even need a sympathetic pat on the back or a hug. I mean… all of these words of encouragement and actions are important and thoughtful but the true necessity is; 1. For our teammates, partners and/or co-workers to do their respective jobs, 2. Be willing to help others when necessary (like the superwoman always does..right?), 3. Someone to tell us it’s absolutely okay to say no when we need to. I’ve learned that these three very simple requests are sometimes too much to ask of people. Simplicity can be quite complex at times.
My irrational expectations for myself and apparently others around me almost led to a nervous breakdown. Now at this point, there was only one person to blame for this, ME. So what did I do??? I put “Superwoman” down! I went on a sabbatical for a month, taking a leave from every position with the exception of wife and mom. I had to remove myself to get my life back in order, first taking care of myself, my husband and then my kids followed. I began to prioritize what I am called to do and what I needed to let go of. During this process I had to decline invitations, solicitations, and propositions in order to intentionally work on reasonable goals, aspirations, and self-care. And now, if I don’t feel I have the help or support I need to effectively complete a task, I simply decline and keep it moving.
I believe an ideal woman is one who fears the Lord and uses wisdom. Her priorities are in order and she knows her family comes first. She no longer tries to fix the burdens of the world but strives to effect change through improvement and not perfection. I’m encouraging you women out there to be wise and set reasonable expectations for yourself and others around you. Let go of the guilt that you may feel when you don’t meet those crazy expectations that society has set for us. As for me, I am working on being content with who God called me to be and in this process of striving to please Him only, I’ve found that with everything else, my efforts are enough.
If you are a single mom, married mom, single woman or wife without children continue to ‘be about your business’, seek the Lord, set boundaries and stay focused on what’s most important to you. Join the movement in fighting burnout and over extending ourselves using the superwoman facade! #ASM #AntiSuperwomanmentality
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