Hello Dear Reader. When I was a child I was bold, just ask my parents! Then when I grew up and started seeing myself through others perceptions (b/c I was always the shortest kid in any class) I began to see myself as small and began to act small. That is until I was taught this hidden strength that I wish I had learned earlier and I want to share it with you today.
First let’s start with the idea of boldness. We often think of boldness as having both positive and negative contexts: strong, independent, loud, slightly arrogant, very confident, and maybe some bright colors are associated too. For women, boldness is encouraged in a few arenas but in most arenas a bold woman is looked at as a word that rhymes with witch. I was often called that word to my face or behind my back while in my corporate and design jobs. It is both unfair and unfortunate that a bold woman is not as welcome as perhaps let’s say a hospitable woman. It is also untrue that women shouldn’t be bold, because it is the bold woman that is needed every day. Bold women often are taught bold is welcome but in certain contexts.
Now let’s check in on your context. When you think of boldness, what comes to mind? Where do you feel welcome to be bold, whatever that looks like for you? What do you think would help you in boldness? What perception have you had put on you by others that got in the way? How does how you look help or hinder your capacity to be bold? What do you think is a hidden strength in boldness?
It’s time to find the hidden strength in boldness! “There’s a lot of brave independence but there is a bold interdependence that allows for asking for help and stepping up to help others together.”, I heard this quote when listening to a podcast by Lisa and Juli Bevere. I agree with this – The hidden strength in boldness and bravery is having the strength to ask for help. This also means we must cultivate a context for help to be received!
Why is asking for help bold, brave and a strength? Because it takes vulnerability and transparency to boldly ask for help. As humans it’s natural to want to present a perfect front. It’s also natural to want to do things on our own. However, there is freedom in allowing for imperfection and for interdependence.
In the land of women, it is often difficult in many settings to reveal our imperfections and to request interdependent support. From society, culture, forms of media, and even in the church we are often directly or indirectly taught that imperfection is not welcome. There are standards that are silent and spoken that most women either grow up hearing or are trained in maintaining. When we boldly ask for help we are letting ourselves be seen as we are and we are revealing we are not perfect. The act of asking for help shatters standards like a stiletto on a glass ceiling.
Letting myself ask for help used to be easy, then as I grew up it became more difficult for me to do so, now I more often invite others into my imperfections because I value real relationship. Its also easier because I’ve experienced my requests for help being received well by healthy people. However there are days when I’m not comfortable with being bold in asking for help and I notice there are internal messages which have come online. The messages might sound like, “don’t let ‘em see you sweat”; “emotions don’t get shown at work”; “comfort is for the home not the office”; “you can do this on your own”; “don’t be bold b/c they might call you a b****”; “if you ask for help they will know you can’t do it” and other such nonsense. Recognizing these messages, confronting the message, and then conforming the message to the truth found in healthy relationship with God and others is the way to take them offline.
2 quick tips in growing this muscle of asking for help and cultivating a context for help from the book of boldness—the Bible.
- Practice Letting – letting is a strong word because like boldness it requires vulnerability and an acceptance of imperfection. Letting also involves permission. When we let, we grant permission to that which is allowed. We often see the word “let” in various places in scripture when God is telling us to let ourselves be something, like when he says in Phillipians “let your requests be made known to God.” And in Mark 8 where he says, “…let me lead…”; in Timothy where he says, “let no one look down on your youthfulness”. Perhaps in our relationships with one another, letting looks like:
- Taking down a standard that every woman has to measure up to in order to be accepted into your friend group.
- Allowing yourself to not have to be “put together” before you join the outside world.
- Listening to the stillness that is in your spirit when things around you are anything but still.
- Smiling at others when all you want is for them to get out of your way soy ou can finish your errands. (or maybe this one is just for me)
- Saying yes to the offer for a dinner to be brought over or for an extra hand.
- What comes to mind for you when you think of this idea of practicing letting?
- Practice identity – it says in Hebrews “because we have confidence come boldly to the throne of grace to find favor and ask for help when we need it.” Practicing identity is an intentional choice to remember who we are in Christ and whose we are. As Christians we can easily hear this and dismiss it, or water this down because we hear it so often and see it done well so little. So perhaps this might look like:
- Recognizing we can’t do it all on our own and we don’t have to.
- There are healthy people around who would respond well to a request for help.
- When we ask for help we don’t do it from a position of a victim but the position of a daughter and a sister.
- Stating the request for help without expectation of specific delivery.
- Realizing asking for help doesn’t minimize us, even though some might see it as weakness, we know it is truly bold meekness that allows us to ask.
- What would practicing identity look like for you today?
Build that hidden strength by asking for help! Don’t play down your boldness! I recently heard speaker and pastor, Keion Henderson say, “Don’t let anyone water you down because they can’t handle you at 100 proof!”
Build that hidden strength by cultivating a context where help is received well and responded to healthfully! Speak out for others and speak up for yourself. Base your boldness on your righteousness given to you by God. This boldness is the true heart of a woman of God.
Boldness based on identity in Christ and supported by healthy context is not rude, is not self-seeking, always hopes, always protects, always loves well and always lets you come to God and others believing the best.
I learned earlier in life that you don’t have to be the biggest to help and you don’t have to be loud to be brave and bold, because you always have someone else with you. You also are not alone.
The hidden strength in boldness that every woman needs is learning to ask for help from others. This requires a helpful and supportive context for us to grow and strengthen this muscle. Will you cultivate that context for each other?
- What do you do in your female friendships that allows for this?
- How are you creating an atmosphere for yourself to strengthen your “asking for help” muscle?
- How are you creating an atmosphere for those looking at you to be strengthened in this muscle?
Liz Lawrence, MA, LPC-S is counselor, coach and creative who is passionate about people. She is based in Austin, Texas and with husband David Lawrence co-leads the non-profit Renue.Me whose mission is to invest in the dreams of leaders in underprivileged communities around the world. Connect with her at www.lizlawrencelpc.com or www.renue.me
Photo Credits: Photo from Pexels.com, Graphic on Canva