More specifically, what does it mean to be bold and to be a woman? I have come to realize that the boldness that is often described when it comes to a woman incorporates the CEO, like YAHOO!’s Marissa Mayer, and a do-it-all-in-one-fell-swoop Martha Stewart. We often believe that bold women are those that can stop moving trains with the lift of their left pinky finger or ones that shift entire rooms with their presence alone.
But maybe being bold has nothing to do with these things. Sure, there is a way in which a woman carries herself that advertises this, but perhaps boldness (or courageousness) is birthed from what is within rather than what is presented.
We recently had a Women’s Weekend at my church titled Eden. The weekend was surrounded around the idea of what it means to be fully yourself, naked and unashamed, in the garden. Neither nudity nor gardens were involved, but there were amazing women – from our Elders to a trained therapist – who stood in front of us and spoke directly to our hearts. They called out the fears that we can all relate to – comparison, shame, dependency on those things outside of God – and urged us towards confession, healthy vulnerability, and dependence on His image of us. Truly towards the meaning of living wholeheartedly.
In one of these breakout sessions, Lisa Lackey, MA, LCPC, CSAT asked us to position our bodies with how it feels to face our fear(s). Some of us shared, while others listened and nodded with a silent, mutual understanding. This activity was intended to help align our physical bodies with our emotions. But what I see now is that it was an experience to understand that we can all silently wage war within ourselves, and we can also all choose bravery to name, face and say ‘no’ to them. And I wasn’t alone, and that meant everything.
I am so familiar with the wall that fear can build when facing insecurities or shame. Thankfully, I am also familiar with the freedom that comes when boldness rides in with truth and overrides the wall. Boldness, after all, is the ability to take a step forward into your authentic self, while being true to yourself and to others. It is a process to be learned and practiced daily, maybe even hourly. You are essentially re-wiring your brain to choose what is good and true in those moments of inner sabotage.
Here is what I’ve learned about boldness (and have to remind myself of):
- There is a boldness in letting yourself be loved – first by God and then by others.
- There is a boldness in saying that you are beautiful and worth it, as you find yourself comparing your insides with someone’s outsides.
- There is a boldness in saying that you are enough, because He is enough. (I actually have this written on my mirror.)
- There is a boldness to choose humility and an “I’m sorry.”
- There is a boldness in confessing that it really isn’t OK, even though you present it as that.
- Boldness is not about being a feminist, but it is about gaining mental and emotional strength to allow yourself these things.
Lisa wrapped up her talk by saying that if we are created in the image and likeness of God, the moment we choose to live outside of that, in our shame/fears/insecurities, we choose to think we can recreate that image into something better.
But, hey, the best part is that we can’t. We weren’t meant to. That’s why it does feel like you’re walking through sticky, muddy marshes when we do anything but. There is freedom in pressing into the woman you are becoming, and letting what needs to be pruned, pruned. Freedom is also allowing those who love you be your cheerleaders in urging you on towards your best self.
In that freed soil of our hearts, minds, and souls, boldness takes root and thrives. We are the only ones who stand in its way. My prayer for myself has been that I can live in the truth of who I am and how I’ve been created, and that I will no longer allow comparison be that sneaky thief of my joy. Because God knows I desire this brand of boldness. I pray this same thing for you.