Archive for March, 2009

Powerful Woman Plays it Safe

I spoke to a young woman recently who told me that she goes to a church where she feels like she is known only as the mother of her two children. She loves being a mom and adores her children, but she also has a career, is in business with her husband, and had a breadth of world-wide experience before coming to this little church. In her church the men have careers and the women are the support, keeping the children and the house. There’s something about this structure that attracts my new friend, probably to balance the chaos she grew up in. However, she feels stifled, unable to fully be herself, afraid that others would put up walls if she spoke what she really thought or felt. She admitted that she can be pretty intense.

On the other hand, at her work, she is surrounded by people from all faiths, or no faith, and all kinds of alternative lifestyles. At work she can breathe and be herself. People at work know she’s a Christian, and that she loves them, and they love her. Though the subject doesn’t often come up, speaking about her faith is as natural as breathing. She extends love to those who are different from her without judgment, and they extend love back. Recently, one of her atheist co-workers approached her with many deep and honest questions about her faith in God. She was able to share freely and openly. She had earned the trust and respect of her co-workers through her love and acceptance of them.

My friend is struggling with her feelings about her church family. She is clearly a powerful woman, but she honestly believes that to be in relationship with other Christian women, she has to stifle her power, and squish herself into a little box. The only acceptable role for her is mother of her two children. She can’t imagine the women in her church having a conversation with people like the ones at her work. Yet this is exactly what the world is crying out for.

I asked her what would happen if she just lived her life out-loud wherever she was, at church, at home, at work, with her girlfriends. She said that she would be very lonely because people would put up walls against her. I challenged her to consider how different that would be from the loneliness she feels now, being in a community of people who don’t really see her, stuffing her true self into a little box that doesn’t fit who she is.

Thinking about this conversation on my way home, it occurred to me that our power as women is not something to be stifled. When it comes from a heart of love, it is an unstoppable creative force in the world. What a difference my friend could make if she simply shared her heart courageously and openly with the others in her church. When our power is mixed with judgment, its power is destructive. The women in my friend’s church are using their power to pull each other down into safe, predictable little boxes. Probably not realizing how destructive this is, not only for their church community, but indirectly for the larger community around them. Their absence has an impact.

I challenge the assumption that as women we should fear and stifle our own power. I believe that as we fill our hearts with the authentic love of God, we have the power to regenerate and heal our culture.

I love Marianne Williamson’s quote – yes my Christian friends, she is a popular not-so-Christian best-selling author and speaker….

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?” Actually who are you not to be?

YOU ARE A CHILD OF GOD. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to manifest the glory that is within us. And as we let our light shine we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Let’s stop pretending to be smaller than we are. Live in the fullness of who you were created to be, and watch God transform the world.

Fawn Gilmore Kraut, CPCC
Life and Career Transitions Coach

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