I'd never describe myself as Wonder Woman. But maybe - I'm learning - I can be comfortable calling myself Wonderful Woman. Jo Saxton helps us see God's dream for each of us.
Will You Ever Let Wonder Woman Go?
By Jo Saxton
No matter where the feeling of powerlessness lingers, you want to believe you can bring out the red cape and red boots and fix it yourself. It seems we all have our version of morphing ourselves into a form of imposed perfection. We dedicate ourselves to becoming twice, even three times, as good. We behave in the "right" way and do whatever it takes - as defined by some outside authority. We exhaust ourselves to earn the recognition of people or systems and find that we have nothing left. We become our own version of Wonder Woman:
The Wonder Woman Wife - perfectly pleasing in every way, even to critical mothers-in-law. She keeps the perfect home. She will be everything her man needs her to be and will ask nothing in return.
The Wonder Woman Mother - keeping up with sisters, friends, and church family. She can do it all and be it all. Yes, she can organize the carpool. Yes, she can organize gifts for Teacher Appreciation Week.
The Wonder Woman Employee - gets things done, high-achieving and ambitious, with limited emotional response so as not to encumber male coworkers with all that "feelings stuff." It's what it takes to get noticed, even though they don't see her yet.
The All-Purpose Wonder Woman - a physically perfect specimen in every way: perky, tight all over, with flawless skin and sparkling smile. She has an up-to-the-second stylish look and is impressively fit, follows a Paleo diet, plus Whole30, gluten-free, and organic.
We think we must become Wonder Woman to reach crazy ideals of perfection. Yet it's a lie to believe that Wonder Woman was ever one woman in the first place.
It's important to remember that Wonder Woman is entertainment, fiction .... I'll happily watch Wonder Woman in movies. I'll cheer when she helps the good guys and defeats the bad guys. Prude that I am, I'll probably still want to buy her a long Wonder sweater, but I'll always love her quest for justice and truth. And her red boots. Nonetheless, Wonder Woman is not a theological treatise on our God-given identity. She is not a description of God's Dream of You.
When we trade our identity for a perfectionistic alternative, even when it's for survival, it comes at a heavy cost. We lose our true selves and we lose our voices. We lose our spiritual authority, because perfectionism relies on our skills rather than God's power. It costs us our purpose because perfectionism has a different purpose than the one God has given us. We lose our courage, because at the root of perfectionism is fear.
God wants to redeem it all. Rather than your being transformed into a broken identity by the pressures of your world, he wants to transform you to recover who you fully are.
Are you ready to be led toward redemptive wholeness, even when you might still fear for your survival? It can be hard to imagine how God could lead us through that shift. But he is waiting for us, ready to lead us back to who we are.
You play a big part in the process. Start with identifying the areas where you struggle with overachievement or perfectionism. Think through how you present yourself at work, at home, at church, in the community, and with friends. Take a careful look at each role you fill, and consider what it is costing you.
Excerpted from The Dream of You by Jo Saxton; Foreword by Ann Voskamp Copyright © 2018 by Jo Saxton. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Jo Saxton is an author, speaker, leadership coach, church planter and visionary, who empowers women, challenges societal stereotypes and helps people discover who they truly are, by seeing themselves the way God sees them. Jo is currently the Chair of the Board for 3DM, a non-profit organization that equips churches in discipleship and mission, and co-hosts the popular podcast Lead Stories: Tales of Leadership in Life. Her latest book is The Dream of You. She is also the author of More than Enchanting: Breaking Through Barriers to Influence Your World, and High Heels and Holiness: The Smart Girl's Guide to Living Life Well. Jo and her husband, Chris, live in Minneapolis with their two daughters.