“Jewel you are too intimidating”
“You are too scary and mean at first, don’t you ever smile?”
“You are too ambitious, what if you scare all the men away?”
“What kind of man would want to live with your over confident self?”
“Your strong personality looks like it won’t keep a husband at home; you might chase the man away”
Do those phrases sound familiar to you? Perhaps you even heard it this morning
sometime,I had just met him for the first time when he said those words to me; got home and typed these words on my status:
“I need to learn how to smile”
Immediately a client turned friend replied me: “but that is not true, don’t force yourself and don’t try walking on the road teeth all displayed in a bid to be more welcoming, I actually had that perception about you but you totally countered it all on closer contact”
He was not the first person to make such comment; I thought I needed to take it seriously. The first time I had heard those words were from a sister in my first year, the client who had ordered some foods and from several others in school but there was one issue.
They all seemed to change their speech to one universal expression
“wow, you are totally different from the person we thought you were, you are so welcoming and loving and very smart and talk maturely with so much wisdom, if only most girls were like you or spoke like you”
I laughed hard each time
Do those scenes seem familiar to you?
Well, if you are anything like my personality, then you sure have heard that phrase or rather public opinions a lot of times from the same lips that might turn their speech to load of verbal compliments after a while. wow, you are actually fun and insightful to spend time with, you are just too intelligent and smart and most times if they are guys, you hear the most funny thing we all sense and know ahead each time “may I have your contact?’
“Can we go out on a date or two, maybe do movies or just eat out at a restaurant; I love your maturity, intelligence and wisdom. I trip for your personality, if only all women had half of your character and attitude to life”
At this point, you already know my facial response, whattt??? My eyebrows furrowed and my lips slightly parted to let out my surprise expression
You’ve been told you’re too much: Too much education, too much thought, too much boldness, too much confidence, too “together”.
Too much to court, for men, much for women and for the church
I don’t know about you, but being called “intimidating” pierces a secret corner of my soul. I feel the sting every time. It’s a passing comment; the speaker laughs it off.
“I thought you were so intimidating when I first met you!” Or worse, a cautionary rebuke from an older Christian woman: “Don’t become too spiritually knowledgeable or you’ll be intimidating to Christian men.” I don’t think they don’t know how much it hurts us, the not-so-gentle-and-quiet ones.
They don’t know what those words do.
When your hard work, or your heart for God, or your bold and bubbly personality are summed up in a word that literally means “to frighten or overawe”, something inside you crumbles.
We “intimidating” women long to make others feel welcome around us, but we’re faced with the reality of human insecurity… insecurity which perceives our best efforts as a threat, not a blessing.
No matter how genuinely we try to be bold and kind, strong and welcoming, we can be misunderstood. We cannot control how others respond to us. In the church particularly, thoughtful, strong-willed women (whose wills are bent to the will of God) are sometimes seen as disruptive to the “biblical order”. They ask too many questions. too theological. Always pursue growth, develop opinions, and dive deep. “Be careful,” They’re warned.
I lived afraid of being “too much” for a Christian man; too much for Christianity in general. I felt divided, body and soul – as if to follow Jesus I had to become a kind of woman completely different than who I was.
In the end, it’s implied: “Intimidating” Christian women are supposed to change. They’re supposed to become something they aren’t. They’re supposed to stop living out their spiritual gifts, stop pursuing “too deep” a knowledge of God and His Word, stop living out structured lives, and essentially, stop living out what God calls them to because it makes others uncomfortable, they won’t be free to approach you on certain matters
Sanctification is the Spirit’s Job
But as a strong woman of God, here’s something I have learned in this faith journey with the Lord: It’s God’s job to sanctify my personality.
The Holy Spirit, through the Word of God, teaches me when my strong voice should stay silent. The Spirit tells me when my bold heart should stay and wait. The Word reminds me when my opinions need to be brought into submission to His truth (which is always).
Just as vital as Spirit and Word is godly community – men and women who know who we are and can speak God’s truth over us. These men and women have the knowledge and wisdom necessary to tell us when our voices grow too loud for the situation at hand; they teach us discernment. They are in our real lives, able to advise us.
Through these things, God sanctifies our personalities into something set apart. And when God does a good work in us, we can know: He will complete it.
Strength Scares People
God’s completion of our personalities is our assurance that who we are is not “too much”. But even when you’re in the center of His will, you aren’t guaranteed the approval of man.
Our strength is not a weapon. It is a gift to be shared with the world. Our light, our voices, and our boldness are much needed in an age of diluted Christianity. But in embracing who God made us to be, we will scare some people. We will even scare some people in the church. Yes, you might even scare away some Christian men.
This is a sad reality, because any biblically grounded woman wants to be
“At peace with all [people]”
But those who seek God and His ultimate will for the church will not be hung up on your personality. They will not be intimidated (and that includes Christian men). They, like the Lord Himself, will see your personality as the gift it is – a gift which, when mobilized by God’s Spirit and grounded in His Word, does great things for an even greater Commission.
We should be very aware of the Spirit’s leading when He asks us, in some seasons and situations, to stand down and be silent. But we must be equally willing to STAND and SPEAK UP… even when those around us disapprove.
Courage, Intimidating Woman
You, “intimidating” woman, are called to be strong. But I have two cautions for you.
First, be sure your drive and focus are rooted only in what God has called you to do *in this season*, not what you THINK you should be doing to appear a certain way or to impress the world. Our world celebrates drive and pursues success. But for us, the only success we’re after is the approval of a loving God.
Secondly, because our world admires the driven and productive, there is a danger of putting down those who are not as organized or “hard core” about their goals. Remember: All of us are uniquely designed by God for the lives we have ahead of us. Our personalities, when refined by the Spirit, equip us for those demands. So celebrate your driven-ness – and embrace the sister whose goals might seem smaller and simpler, because our world needs her just as much.
But for today, take this with you: The thing about yourself you find most confusing, most unfit for kingdom work according to those around you, and is often the very thing Jesus will use.
2 Timothy 2:15 is a comfort for us:
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”
Note that Paul says to present yourself to God, Be approved before God.
The opinions of man are not part of that equation.
You may be called “intimidating” more than once in your life. You will be misunderstood and mislabeled. People will take your confidence for arrogance, your assurance for bravado, and your appearance for “better than”. Your job is not to fix their opinions of you. Your job is to present yourself to GOD as an approved and unashamed worker of His truth.
So stay in the Word.
Stay in the Spirit
Stay in obedience to where He has you.
Then be who you are, where you are, to the people He gives.