There once was a woman who happened upon a discarded superhero suit. She stared at the shiny material. I wish I was a superhero, she thought to herself. Who am I kidding? I’m no superhero. Far from it. She threw the suit in the trash. Then she hesitated. What if I could be a superhero? What if I could help people? What if I could save the world? Her fingers traced the emblem wistfully. She slipped the outfit on and stared at herself in the mirror. It fits! I can’t believe it fits. And I look…different. Stronger. More sure of myself. Hm… maybe I’ll just wear it for a bit. She kept the outfit on, donned her daily clothing on top of it, and walked out the door.
She continued to wear the outfit under her clothes. It brought her a sense of power, certainty, and self-worth. Then one day, a friend came to her in need. With her newfound self-confidence, she rushed to the rescue. She solved the problem. Her friend was overjoyed and thanked her immensely, repeating over and over again, “You are my hero! I couldn’t have done it without you!” Later, she noticed her shirt had a small tear and the superhero suit was visible. As her eye caught the flash of red, she thought, I did it! I was able to help her! Maybe I have a little bit of hero in me after all.
Her friend spread the word of the woman’s unique ability to help. Soon others were coming to her. “They needed her help,” they said. “No one else could help them.” But she was unsure of her ability. I have no superpowers. What if I fail?They kept pleading and she finally, she said yes. Much to her surprise, even without superpowers, she was incredibly gifted and was able to help people in many different ways. Each time she said yes, it became easier to say yes to the next person. Her confidence grew. Word of her ability spread. This is what I was made to do.
She found more and more of her identity in her ability to perform the tasks given to her. She stopped hiding her suit. She was meant to be a superhero. She found joy in helping people. She found purpose in the tasks given to her. People thought highly of her because of the things she could do for them. They respected her. She was always invited to participate in things. Everyone knew her. Everyone had her phone number. It felt good. I’m needed. I can save the world.
Then one day, people asked her to do more than she could handle. She couldn’t disappoint them, though. They needed her. She just kept saying yes and kept working as hard as she could. Harder. She slept less and less. She had no time for her friends or family.
Her cherished superhero suit started to fray. The edges of her life felt just as frayed. She started letting things slide. Menial tasks went unfulfilled. Relationships started to drift away. But she couldn’t say no.
After one particularly draining day, her eyes filled with tears. She thought, I’m not sure I can do this anymore. She was exhausted and alone. The tasks which had given her so much joy and purpose before only brought resentment, frustration, and anger. She found herself making mistakes because she was so tired. She realized that she had no one around her to confide in. She had pushed them all away, believing that her task was too important to spend her time with them. Everyone had her phone number, but no one called unless they needed her. She began to weep. She wept because she wasn’t the same woman she had been. She wept because she was alone. She wept because she realized that even though they needed her, she couldn’t save them all. She was frail and broken and could not give them what they needed.
Then one day, she heard of a man who said, “Come to me, you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” I’m weary. I’ve heavy laden. But can he really give me rest? How? I have to save the world. I don’t get rest. Everyone needs me.
Out of curiosity, she decided to go.
As she walked by the mirror, she caught sight of the superhero suit she was wearing. What a sham. I’m such a fraud, she thought. She changed out of the suit and carried it with her.
When she found the man, he was unlike anyone she had ever met. He was gentle, yet strong. Loving, yet powerful. She stood before him in awe. She was simultaneously curious and afraid. How can I approach this man? I am not worthy to be in his presence. But when he saw her, he smiled and called her forward.
“Tell me,” he said, “about what you carry.” She looked down at her hands. The frayed, dirty, suit that had once been her pride and joy suddenly embarrassed her. “I found it. I put it on and I tried to save the world, but I couldn’t. At first, I loved it. Now I hate it.” The man smiled again. “My dear child, you don’t have to save the world. I’ve already done that. Come follow me. You will find rest and strength in me. I will show you how to be a part of saving the world, not through your strength, not through what you do, but through pointing others to what I have already accomplished. You don’t have to try to do it alone. I will be with you. You will walk with others who follow me. The world will be changed. Not because you are great, but because I am.”
He held out his hand to her. She slowly approached him, wanting nothing more than to follow him. She took his hand, and laid down her superhero suit at his feet. She didn’t need it anymore.