It’s a common thread I’ve noticed in conversations around women empowerment. The question of why women don’t ask or try for things. Even when they’re the most talented and most capable in a room or at a table, there’s always that innate hesitation to step forward and speak their mind. To reach out and take hold of the chances offered to them. To make a stand and create the environment that they and others can thrive in.
It bothers me because for all the opportunities that can be created for women in various spheres of life, they’ll amount to nothing if the women they’re meant for shy away from reaching for them.
I’ve watched it happen far too many times even in the lives of women I dearly treasure. Watched them talk themselves out of something God made them to be and do. Watched as stack after stack of praise and encouragement drowned in a sea of self-doubt.
How did we get here?
If you consider the difference between how girls and boys are raised, boys are encouraged to take risks and go on adventures as its considered part of their masculine nature. Girls on the other hand, are trained to be cautious and reserved. It’s expected for boys to get their clothes dirty; but girls are supposed to remain clean, prim and proper. Is it a wonder that those that don’t are referred to as “tomboys”? There are certainly exceptions to this but the reality is that even if your parents are among the unique few who don’t box you according to your gender, they eventually have to send you out into a society and a world that will do just that.
It is instilled in us as young girls to deviate from anything that isn’t inherently safe for us. For all the good intentions that lead to this, it’s a travesty. All the more so in the Kingdom of God where women have such a unique and pivotal role to play.
Because safety in life is little more than an illusion. Our hiding doesn’t save us from the longing of becoming who God intended us to be. It does nothing for the discontentment that batters us every day because deep down inside we know we were meant for so much more.
“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.”
“Ooh…” said Susan.
“I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
– C.S. Lewis (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe)
There was a season where God challenged my view of success and failure. He asked me why I thought He could only make use of my success and not my failure.
Good question, Lord. I have no clue. Can you though? Can you actually take my shortcomings and make something beautiful of them?
I can, Mary. And I fully intend to. I haven’t called you to anything that you’re perfect in or that you will automatically excel at. Everything I ask you to be and do comes with grace to learn because the only way to learn is to fall and get up a couple of times. I already know how many times you’re going to fail in your lifetime and I called you anyway. How’s that for perspective?
In a way that only God can, He gave me a freedom I didn’t know I needed. He gave me the freedom to fail. The freedom to chase after faithfulness without worrying about perfection.
He freed me, yes. But I needed to fully embrace that freedom for myself.
I came across a post where the author spoke about the reality of life. You’ve never lived in your tomorrow. You’ve never been where you’ll be next month. So everything you face in your future is uniquely new to you. Even if it involves similar people and similar circumstances, the likelihood is high that they’re not exactly the same as what you dealt with before. It makes it ludicrous then that we have this expectation of ourselves to get everything right every single time when every day of our life and everything in it is new to us.
It was then I gave myself permission to fail.
“When a child learns to walk and falls down fifty times, they never think to themselves: ‘Maybe this isn’t for me’.
– Author Unknown
So why should we as adults?
We need to reconsider how we raise our children. Not just as parents but as family members, church community and members of society in their lives. Boys and girls are different and I’m certainly not advocating for them to be treated the same as that would merely be trading one extreme for another. They should be raised not based on what we think is right for their respective genders but who God has called each child to be as an individual. This includes their gender but doesn’t limit them to our views of it.
We need to give ourselves permission to fail. There is no failure on earth that could distance you so far from God that you’d be out of His reach. None.
Change the self-talk tape you’ve been listening to in your head on loop for far too long.
What if I try? What if I fail? You wonder.
What if you get back up and keep taking one step after another, stronger than ever?
What if you pause a thousand steps later and realize that the thing you were so terrified of didn’t break you, it built you as you mastered how to do it?
What if you discover that the love of God is far more expansive and gracious than you ever gave Him credit for?
Give yourself permission to fail.
And trust the Lord to make something beautiful of your faithfulness and willingness to trust Him even more than you trust yourself.