#BeBoldForChange is the theme this year for International Women’s Day. As a peacemaker who seeks to build bridges through the medium of story, it’s important for me to see how our stories fit into the bigger picture of advocating for women on a global scale. Therefore, I had to ask, “How can we be bold for change if we have not first made peace with ourselves?”
Today, I want to break it down from a worldwide movement, to seeing how peace and peacemaking starts as a personal journey.
After my mom died a few years ago, I decided to spend some time getting to know my dad in a new way. I wanted to learn as much about my dad, and life through his eyes, as time would allow. One day he shared how even though he loved us more than anything, he wasn’t excited when the three of us girls were born. I listened, but at first my response was to question whether he wanted daughters at all?
He said, “I was really afraid to be a dad, it was uncharted territory and overwhelming. How could I protect you girls from all the bad things? All I could think about was how the world was a big, scary place, and I wanted to do whatever I could to protect you girls from it.”
I said, “Dad, that’s a nice sentiment and, although at times I thought you were overprotective, I never felt anything but loved and cheered on by you guys. However, dad, that’s one way to look at raising three girls in a scary world…another perspective is,
‘The world is a big, scary, amazing place to be discovered…how can I raise three bold, confident, intelligent, bad*ss women to hold their own in it?!”
I’m a middle-child. I guess you could say I was born a peacemaker by birth order, but the middle-child is often the wanderer, too, and for me, this has always been true. Maybe the wanderer, or explorer, in me was what scared my dad the most? Maybe it was the fact his three daughters didn’t bat an eye at crossing the country for further education or spanning oceans to meet new people and discover other cultures? Whatever the reason, the beauty is, regardless of my dad’s greatest fears about a big, bad world, he and my mom chose to raise us despite their worries, teaching us we belong to a bigger picture. From an early age we were posed with the question, “How would that make you feel?” This simple question took the basic golden rule, “Treat others the way you want to be treated,” and transformed it into empathy at the most base level. It equipped us with a practical tool for peacemaking in our everyday lives.
Recently I learned why my parents named me what they did, as well as my sisters. Apparently we were given androgynous names to set us up for success in life, school, and the workplace, our parents suspecting that when three girls are born into what appeared a man’s world, stacking the odds in our favor could only help.
My name means, “Rich, Bold, and Confident.” I didn’t know it’s meaning or live into it, for years. It’s ironic how some pieces of us come naturally while others are only discovered over a lifetime of quests and failures, triumphs and forks in the road. Throughout my life, there have been seasons when I felt I could take on the whole world and fear wasn’t anywhere on my radar. Then I would hit a few bumps and get derailed for a while. Whether that’s true or not, whether we had been named feminine names or masculine ones, the reality is,
peacemaking comes first in the form of making peace with ourselves and our truest identity, that is, we are loved children of God and we were made for this big, scary, amazing world.
As we celebrate alongside women and men and children around the world on this beautiful, annual International Women’s Day, I’m not overwhelmed by the question, “How can I change the world?” rather, I know when we make peace with ourselves, boldness comes in the form of quiet confidence.
And what’s more powerful or brings about more change than when women walk confidently in their true identities?
Adrienne has blogged haphazardly over the last 10 years at www.adriennegraves.com She and her family recently moved to Nashville where she talks to strangers, gathers stories, and writes them down to share. Adrienne founded Bevy, a non-profit organization whose mission is to create safe spaces for women to share their stories candidly.