When you grow up within the confines of the patriarchal, Americanized, Evangelical church & among portions of her people, something happens to your spirit. Something happens to how you receive praise, seek and accept permissions. We live our lives as women seeking permission. You live believing the message that you need someone’s approval, permission, OK (especially a male someone with “authority”) before you leap, move forward, or make a big decision about your life.
How often have you heard it said, “Did your father/parents give you permission? What does your pastor think? Have you sought ________(fill in the blank with the title of some male authority figure in your life) thoughts on this matter?”
I have lived this and I have been surrounded by elders who treat me like I need these permissions to be OK, whole, or within God’s will. I know I threw up in my mouth a little at that last statement too.
Women Seeking Permission
For a very long time I even sought these permissions into my adulthood (like a desperate child needing approval) from the male-figureheads in my world (even if they were warped, misguided fools).
When I started writing there was a part of me that sought my own parents’ approval for what I put on the page. I did not want to hurt them, make them angry, or damage their reputation. My father at the beginning of my wavering spoke these words, “You write whatever it is you believe you should write and don’t you worry about what your mom and I think.” This past holiday season when the Rage-Monger came once again to nitpick my words & life & even the lives of those I love, throw acid in my face, and question my credibility – my father was right there speaking truth and love over my gifts saying that while my perspective is different than his own it has been important for him to read it, to help him understand where I am coming from.
While I have come far the last decade and I do not require his permission – having a voice I admire and trust say, “This is OK and good, true and brave,” is an immense help when I begin to self-doubt, lose my nerve, and when i have allowed the Hope-Stealers way too much opportunity to speak.
When They Think You Need Their Permission
There have been a few people from my life (voices of patriarchy and church) that once they find my written words they begin to react in extremes. They are angry, offended, or outraged. For some reason they seem to see themselves between every other line I write – which is odd because you never can tell what or who an author is really writing about. I’ve heard veiled threats that sound like, “Who gave you permission to do this, to write this.”
Then if that line of questioning regarding who has given me permission does not work (as if what I am living is wrong), they begin to question the creative life & written words themselves. “Lies” or “misunderstandings” they will call them. I’ve been called a “bully” for writing about bullying. True story.
I’ve been accused and called all sorts of things for simply refusing to engage on terms that do not work for me anymore.
Really all that acid throwing, mocking, threats, and reactions come down to one theme – permission.
People will step into your creative space & life and honestly believe that YOU NEED their PERMISSION to do what you are doing. They might not come right out and say it, but their actions will shout they are entitled to a say about you. And if they did not give you that permission they will wonder who did.
A seed of doubt will try to plant itself there…
But once you accept that fact that you are not doing anything wrong, there is nothing malformed about your life, and that you do not require anyone’s permission…
you will step back from the acid throwers, sigh with great relief, and then laugh and laugh and laugh.
yes, at their expense.
Let me be the first to tell you: YOU DO NOT NEED ANYONE’S PERMISSION to be you.
Be awesome because you are awesome.
I dare you to stand on up – even while the critics are watching, baiting, hunting, stalking, and betraying – you stand on up and speak, write, love, lead, create anyways.
You go ahead and do exactly what you need to do.
You do not need anyone’s permission.
And if you are still sitting there afraid after all those words, requiring something more then let me offer you permission because sometimes we need someone to give that to us.
I give you permission to speak, to stand up, to write, love, lead and create anyways. While you certainly do not need it I offer it. Because sometimes we need to hear that what we are doing is NOT harmful. You creating is NOT going to HARM anyone. It might hurt. The truth you felt and lived while they were doubting – your truth might threaten them. It might sting them a little because guilt hurts. Their guilt at not seeing the true you sooner will haunt them. Their guilt at refusing to LISTEN or be teachable is not your fault.
Their guilt at all the ways they did NOT ENCOURAGE YOU, but doubted your gifts, mocked your efforts, feared your voice, and gave you false alternatives – that guilt will hurt their hearts until they deal with what they have done.
THAT IS NOT YOUR RESPONSIBILITY.
People are going to hurt because that is a natural consequence of the choices we make.
You cannot fix that for them or make it right. Trust me, if you try to make it all OK for them so that they do not hurt and are no longer angry YOU will harm yourself. You will end up compromising your creativity and integrity just to meet what they need – to not feel guilt, shame, or anger anymore. In the process of making them feel better about themselves you will prolong the inevitable crossroads they will have to come to in navigating their past with you. You cannot make them see. You cannot control their choices. You cannot make them able.
You can give them enough of your truth to help them find their way – you can say, “here it is, walk in it, choose to see it, please hear me this time,” BUT you cannot walk it out for them. They have to be willing to face your truth headon and do the hard work of reconciling what they have been and done to you.
I’m letting you off the hook. Be what you need to be. Do what you need to do.
You have permission.
Go pursue what makes your heart leap.
You create anyways. You grow your business. You take that leap you’ve been putting off for years because you allowed their negativity to influence your hope at a good future. You stretch outside those boxes and false beliefs.
You are not what they say you are – you are so much better and so much more.
You have permission.
Let the voices of doubt and shaming and mocking and ridicule go. They have no good place in your life so don’t listen to them anymore.
I dare you to move.
It’s a leap year and leap years are for leaping.
If you still require hope and convincing consider reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s newest book, “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear”… a hint of what is in that book can be found in this short article, “How to do What You Love.”