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The Superwoman Complex- The Godless Proverbs 31 Woman

| November 1, 2010

Superwoman complex: A woman’s desire to be excellent at all her roles (leader, professional, mother, wife, etc.), that often leads to psychological stress or an expectation of being a Superwoman that can and should do everything.

If you look this term up in the dictionary, you’ll find my picture next to it. I didn’t realize I fit into this category until a few months ago. I was new  to marriage, taking summer school, cooking dinner 3-4 times a week, working out every day, involved in church ministry, working 40 hours a week, reading 200 pages a day for class, trying to be a friend, daughter, and the perfect wife. I was exhausted and didn’t even have kids yet! But after working 10 hours one Saturday afternoon, I finally broke down.

Why was I so upset, so exhausted? My husband was well fed, the house was clean, I was making good grades, and church ministry was going well. It seemed like I was doing what the Proverbs 31 woman is supposed to do, so why was I breaking down? What’s wrong with being Superwoman?

1. Superwoman is Too Busy for God.

At the end of every day being “Superwoman,” I was exhausted and needed a good night’s sleep to be able to save the day again. I told God, “I’m too busy for you. I have to do everything tomorrow and need my sleep so I can’t read your Word.” The way God was going to speak to me and bring me peace, contentment, and joy was what I was rejecting. Scripture breathes life into our souls and I was becoming spiritually and physically exhausted without it.

The Proverbs 31 woman is refreshed daily, speaks with wisdom, and is exemplary because she seeks the source of all wisdom and faithful instruction….God. (Prov. 31:24). I was doomed for failure as Superwoman because I didn’t have the one thing that would revive my soul everyday (Ps. 19:7). Rather than trying to be Superwoman, I needed to be more like the Proverbs 31 woman, seeking the Lord and His Word, which brings light to the eyes and joy to the heart (Ps.19:8).

2. Superwoman Thinks She Can Save the Day.

When you try to be a superhero, there’s no room for God to save the day. I thought I could do it all on my own and, foolishly, I thought I didn’t need God’s help. I was the controller of my life, not God. When He is not your center, when He is not in control, your life will not be peaceful or successful (Prov. 3:5-6).

If you’re trying to be Superwoman, you will eventually fail and break down (Prov. 14:12), but when God is in control, there is peace and rest. I was putting my trust in myself which seems pretty stupid when I think about it, because I’m a sinful, simpleton of a woman. Why was I trusting in that kind of person when I have a Savior who is perfect (Ps. 18:30), loving, strong, in control of the entire world and wants to do good for me (Deut. 30:16, Ps. 37:4-5)? That’s who I want to save the day!

3. Superwoman Tries to Be Perfect.

A lot of Christian women think of the Proverbs 31 woman as a type of Superwoman. She’s Susie-homemaker, smart, good with money, can sew, and her husband and children think she’s the best. She’s perfect!

God requires His daughters to be like that, right? Aren’t all those things in Scripture? They are and God does want them from us but there’s a big difference between Superwoman and the Proverbs 31 woman. The difference is: God.

You can do all the actions of the Proverbs 31 woman but if your heart isn’t God-centered then you’re just a Superwoman destined to fail. God knows that only He and His Son, Jesus Christ are perfect, so why are we trying to be perfect in every area? Is it so you’ll appear to be the most talented girl in the dorm, the best wife in your small group, or the most desirable single woman? Unfortunately, I’ve been guilty of all these “Me”-driven motives. The Superwoman complex is centered on: Self.

God does not value outward perfection, awards, or praises from man like we do. The only thing God requires is that we seek Him and fear Him, like the Proverbs 31 woman (Prov. 31:30). God doesn’t call us to be Superwomen; he calls us to be godly women.

When you put your long to-do lists and full schedules on His shoulders the burden is much lighter because He’s carrying it for you (Matt. 11:28). He knows you can’t handle the weight of being Superwoman. You’ll collapse under it, like I did.

If you have been like the Proverbs 31 woman, putting everything in God’s hands, thank you! You’ve been an example to your sisters and we need more women like you. I pray I become more like you and less like Superwoman.

So let’s all take off the cape and let God save the day!

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Comments (10)

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  1. Blythe Hunt says:

    Diane–Thank you for this post! I am actually home from work today after getting to that burn-out point you mention. I simply needed a day to be still and quiet. Can you speak to what it looks like to make the change from being Superwoman? I work full time (my husband was laid off this year), and I am in school so that I will hopefully not have to keep my very demanding job. I don’t know what it looks like either practically or in my heart to move away from this lifestyle right now.

    • Diane Montgomery says:

      Blythe- My heart really goes out to you! I can imagine how stressful and taxing that is on you. The changes, which I’m still working on, really come down to me and God. I know I can’t neglect spending time with Him or else my heart will be stressed to the max after a long day. He really does refresh me and make my heart new! The closer I become with Him the more I’m able to prioritize my time better, as well. For me, I had to learn that the house didn’t have to be perfectly clean, I didn’t have to work out every day, and I didn’t have to have dinner on the table every night. It was more important, after a long day at school and work, to spend time with my husband or building a friendship, while not being stressed out about what else I have to do
      Also, I had to be honest with my husband and let him know I needed some help. He’s been so encouraging and started helping me with things around the house which is helping take a load off knowing I have support. He and I both know this is for a season but my heart attitude is forever which is why my spiritual growth comes first. God has put you and I in these situations for a reason and it’s to make us learn that we need to lean on Him for EVERYTHING! Without Him, we can do nothing. Know that I am praying for you, my sister! God is right there beside you even during the burn-out points and He’s there to hold you up!

  2. Jess says:

    I guess I’m missing the practical solution here. At the end of the day, unless there’s an unlimited budget, the young mother is still going to find her mountain of tasks there waiting for her. I don’t see how the burden is going to change? And for my part, “not putting dinner on the table every night” simply isn’t an option. Seven people (counting myself) would suffer if I opted out of that task.

    I’m sorry to be so discouraging, but I am really missing the practical answer here? This all “sounds” right, but for the woman who is in the trenches, cooking the meals and doing the laundry, not to be superwoman but because it’s all there and she has little ones and can’t just cast it off on someone else or order out so she doesn’t have to cook so often, what is the solution for her? Where is the practical burden-lifting? Because to me, all I can get out of this is, “cast your burden on the Lord’, but then I think, yeah, but God gave me these children and this home, and ultimately has seen fit to put these physical burdens squarely on my shoulders. Maybe I’m being dense… I just am missing the practical angle here.

    • Jess, I’m right there with you (four kids 8, 5, 3, 1) and feel your pain (and drudgery). I think we’ve got to put our time with God first, instead of last or not at all. I know I do a million other things before I will sit still and do my Bible study because there are so many things that need to be done. I don’t think God would want us not to feed our families or do the laundry – necessities – but what about all the other things we do that can be put off in order to develop our relationship with Him?

      I get distracted A LOT, I do things over and over again that could easily be left to get picked up another time. I make things harder for myself because I want to be “suzi homemaker” – buy the bread, darn it! (my bread machine broke, I have a good excuse)

      So practical advice: (I need to do these myself)
      -leave the toys on the floor for now
      -leave the dishes for morning (on occasion)
      -don’t scrub the countertops (today, many not tomorrow)
      -no one can see the crumbs under the kitchen table except you
      -take a hot bubble bath in the dark – do nothing
      -have your husband bring in chinese food for a home date night after the kids go to bed

      okay . . . I’m off to take my own recommendations.

      In Christ,
      Lauren

    • Rachel says:

      Hi Jess,
      I empathize with you! I have a wonderful husband and 8 children (ages 9 to 1) counting on me to manage our home well. It does get overwhelming at times. I do HAVE to get up before the children to have time with the Lord. That is vital! He has blessed us with our families and we are responsible for them. I have just recently bought a book (Large Family Logistics by Kim Brennamen published by Vision Forum) that has been a real source of practical wisdom and advice for being a godly homemaker for the glory of God. It has blessed me with immediately applicable, practical helps.
      God bless you!

  3. Elisabeth says:

    Thank you so much for this – I appreciated it in so many ways; it really speaks to my heart.

  4. Sindy says:

    Hi, I’m a teenager, and even thought all that you said doesn’t apply to me, I still feel the burden. I work part time 21 hours a week, go to school, and play a sport everyday after school. On top of that, I go to youth group and go to a Bible study. There are times when I think about everything I do, and so does my mom, and we think that maybe I’m just doing too much and being too busy to have any free time.
    Fortunately, I have put it all on the Lord and He knows more than anyone that everything I do is for His glory only. Sometimes I do get carried away in sports or school especially taking all the credits for my good marks or good performances, but He quickly reminds me that I couldn’t have done it without Him. And it’s all true.
    Thank you so much for your encouragement as I trust in the Lord to help me be more like the Proverbs 31 women.

  5. This is AWESOME!!!!I found this post while searching for a Proverbs 31 woman schedule. I am so glad that I did find it. It’s funny how I am always striving to be this “perfect” godly woman, but without seeking guidance from God. This is exactly what I needed to stumble upon.