Thursday, February 4, 2016

On Women (Probably Works for Men Too) Showing Up

I haven't blogged in a couple years, but I just keep wanting to say this and it's too long for Twitter.

A few months ago, I went to a conference. At this conference there was a breakout session for women in leadership. I was hesitant. I didn't want to sit in a room with angry people if it was going to be an angry sort of thing. That this was my first thought about what women in leadership are like, as a woman in leadership, was troubling. So I went. It was beautiful from the moment it began until the moment it ended.

Each of us were encouraged to investigate what it meant for us to lead as ourselves, not as any other person. We were given time to examine our own stories and callings. We were told that leadership is a skill that can be practiced. In all of this, I found immense comfort, challenge, and freedom.

I am not a meek or mild person. I can assert myself all day long, to be honest. This isn't something I would say that I struggle with. I charge forward into most situations whether I'm feeling "charge-y" or not, and usually it's the not. In fact, the more scared and small I'm feeling, the "braver" and bigger I get. Knowing this about myself, I have spent the last several years trying to punch myself down. I have tried to quiet this over-assertive self by piling contempt on her: "don't be the angry person," "don't be the critical person," "be a team player," "don't ask too much," the list goes on.

That day, in that conference, as I was given time to reflect on my story and on my calling, I realized that I've always been a person that needed to say what she felt was true. There are stories from before I can remember about me, not even in school yet, calling out what I saw as inconsistencies and injustice around me. And I realized, this is something good that God placed in me. This is not something to be piling "angry woman" contempt on. And just as strongly, just as early in my story, I remembered that God had also placed in me a need to draw attention to the beauty I saw. My mother is like this. I remember walking down the dirt road by our house as child with her pointing out wildflowers and the way their colors spoke to each other.

So I wrote down something I had known all along, but had never written down: "I am called to see and speak about the beauty and the [baloney]  ...and I can PRACTICE THIS SKILL."

Those last words were accompanied by many exclamation points and underlining and stars.

Ever since, I have felt this challenge and this freedom, and I would offer it to you. The challenge is: what if you showed up to your life and relationships and work, without contempt for yourself or apology? What if you offered what you saw and believed and had to say with the increasing confidence and humility that comes from knowing it was God who gave you your eyes and heart and words, and it was God who gave you the person in front of you that you're speaking to?

The freedom I would offer is: this is a skill you are practicing. It is okay to not do it perfectly. If you have spent years pushing yourself down, of course you are not going to stand up perfectly in these first moments. Even if you come on too strong, sisters, AT LEAST YOU CAME.

We will learn, if we practice, and if we practice together.

No comments:

Post a Comment