Ever since I was young, I have been on a quest for the elusive boldness. I call it boldness because that’s the closest word I can think of to describe what I’ve been looking for. It’s really a mix of freedom, grace, confidence, and courage all wrapped up to form something I can slip on over my messy.
In my younger days, this quest stemmed from insecurity. All the popular girls seemed to have it. In middle school, I felt awkward- a little too tall with frizzy hair that failed to conform- and overwhelmed by the small talk culture of middle schoolers, when I just wanted to talk about books. And while I rarely spoke it out loud, I envied the girls that had silky hair and effortlessly made friends/got boyfriends.
In hindsight, middle school is awkward for everyone. There are very few people that think fondly back to the days when everyone was still learning that deodorant is a necessary part of life. This is especially evident in the summer when I work with middle schoolers in a local theater production. The girls with the biggest smiles and the prettiest hair wear their confidence as a coverup for the awkwardness they feel as they transition from child to adult.
Everyone has messy, some are just better hiding it than others.
When my motivations for boldness changed from wanting to be someone else to wanting to be the best version of myself, I was at a loss. See, my definition of boldness looked nothing like me. In my mind, boldness= never feels awkward, always has the right thing to say, does something extraordinary, or in other words, a perfect person. But I was not perfect. And as I became deep friends in college with some friends who I thought embodied boldness, I came to realize that they were longing, just like me, to take their mask off and be fully known and fully loved. They, just like me, were worried that when they stopped their perfection performance they would no longer be liked or worse yet, they would be forgotten.
When I graduated college, I tried out a bunch of different things, tried to stay busy, tried to show that my life had significance. It was not until about a month ago when God pulled me into a season of rest that He began to redefine boldness and re-establish my identity in Him. And He’s still working. In these blessed quiet moments, He’s stripped away the markers of boldness I’ve placed for myself and shown me that boldness looks different for different people. Sometimes boldness looks like quietly doing something no one else is doing. Sometimes boldness looks like everyday obedience without accolades. Sometimes boldness looks like choosing rest over busy. Although boldness looks different for different people, if you are in Christ, it has the same result.
2 Corinthians 3:17-18 says “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
So we may be at different degrees of glory from one another, but the end goal is a total transformation into the image of Christ. And when our end goal is Christ, we become less self-conscious about how we compare to others.
Instead of using one another as a measuring stick for our holiness, we need to look to God.
And as we look to God, even though He is perfect, we need not be dismayed. Instead of being distanced from God like the Israelites were before Jesus, we now have a great high priest who bridges the gap between us and God with His cross. Hebrews 4:15-16 puts it best.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”