By Rachel Hansen
I love a good superhero story, a twofold tale. On one side, the main character is an invincible hero, a superhuman with great strength and special power. On the other, a man or woman behind the costume who looks much more like you and I.
Often I am more intrigued by the ordinary, the humble subplot of the humanity within the hero than the extraordinary strength and power that come with the title.
I have tried playing superwoman. Every room in my home holds books that teach me how to be like her. You would think by now I’d be a master chef like Rachael Ray, a home expert like Martha Stewart or perhaps would have uncovered the many secrets to living Real Simple. Instead publications sit on my shelves unfinished—as am I. Conversations with other women center on achieving more while finding balance. In the pursuit of doing it all, I grow weary (and so I also own books on beating fatigue!). Through it all, I continually push forward in search of the right answers.
But I have also experienced enjoyment in being me—no more, no less. I set striving aside and appreciate all I have done and learned thus far. I celebrate where I am in life while humbly recognizing I still have far to go. I embrace the reality that I am not invincible and I turn to God regularly. In the process, I’ve learned to take off the mask and genuinely share myself with others; it is satisfying, inspiring and real.
In a world searching for superpower, authenticity – being genuine, open and available to others – builds influence.
My influence shifted greatly when I chose to lead with authenticity. No fancy façade. I stripped off the polished exterior of my superwoman costume to expose the soft, unrefined parts inside. I offered gritty honesty about my personal life and work. Unfiltered, I shared about the battles I lost, won and what I learned.
Every season God brings women into my path that are hungry for authenticity in a world dominated by superficiality. Getting to know the woman I am behind closed doors, they see there is no better option (for me or them) than choosing to live by faith. In Christ, we are more than conquerors because of God’s love, grace and empowerment.
While many of us aspire to do great things, I have found my greatest influence comes from being myself – an ordinary woman serving an extraordinary God. As women of faith and as leaders, often the best thing we can offer others is authenticity. Sometimes being ourselves is the only thing required because if we only show what is possible through man, we fall short in our influence. But if we share openly about what God has done through our lives, we have supernatural power to change the world. Maybe in the end, it will make us all heroines.
Rachel Hansen has been active in a variety of ministries, currently championing the prayer ministry with her husband at New Life Community Church in Chicago’s Lincoln Park and serving on the Women of the Word Midwest Steering Committee. She is a freelance writer who plans to complete her first book for women of faith in 2012.