Big, Bold Change Starts With Baby Steps

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Diana Trautwein -Baby Steps3

Bold is a great big word. It’s only four small letters, but oh, my! It brings such freight. I don’t use it often, to tell you the truth. About 90% of the time, my use of the term is limited to clicking Command-B on my computer keyboard! I seem to be more willing to occasionally make a written word stand out than to actually be bold in my day-to-day life.

I wonder sometimes if I have ever been a bold person, someone who steps out and speaks up and makes a change. I know I am not bold physically—I KNOW this. I don’t like high places. I am terminally uncoordinated. Sports balls of any size or shape coming my direction are a source of terror.

I have a friend—one of my dearest friends—who is brazenly bold. She learned to kite-surf in her 50’s and is now an expert. Last year, she and a friend hiked from the Alps of Switzerland to the shores of the Mediterranean in France. This week, she left for Nepal to climb to the base camp of Mt. Everest. Yes, really. The base camp of Mt. Everest.

Uh, no thank you. Much as I love and admire her, that kind of bold feels cray-cray to me.

But as I think about other bold women I have known I soon realized that there are lots of different ways to step up, to step out, to take a chance, to risk failure, to make a difference. You don’t have to be willing to jump out of an airplane to be bold.

Some of the boldest women I know are the ones I’ve met here at SheLoves— Idelette, Tina, Kelley, Kathy, Helen, Bev, Erin, Cindy, Claire, Heather, Sarah, Michaela, Bethany—too many to list.So many stories of courage and the stick-to-it-ive-ness to realize dreams—often despite fear, hardship, and loss.

There are lots of ways to be bold. And every single one of those ways begins with a single step. One decision. One moment of courage. One instant of recognition that this—this idea, this project, this act of grace, this stand-up-and-be-counted moment—is doable. These women—and so many others—believed in possibilities and then they walked those possibilities into reality.

Every bold step begins with a baby step. Dramatic change does not happen overnight. Sometimes, it takes a lifetime or even more than a lifetime. Really bold change only happens when lots of different people take lots of different kinds of baby steps, all of them heading in the same direction.

In my lifetime, I’ve watched this kind of bold change happen with women in ministry. It is not yet true everywhere in Christendom, but our numbers are growing every day. This change has happened across denominations and around the world. It is a change that is still in process. Some of us are just beginning to realize what it means when women and men lead the church together. Some of us have been doing it for a couple of generations.

When I was growing up in the church, when I was newly married, even when I was a stay-at-home mom in my 30’s, I never saw a woman pastor. Never saw one. Thirty-five years later, my granddaughters cannot imagine women not being pastors.

That is a bold change that happened in one lifetime. In my lifetime.

I have been bold. I went to school in my 40’s to become a pastor and again in my 60’s to train as a spiritual director. I pulled all-nighters way past the age when I should have. I discovered I could preach and even taught others how to do it when I was twice as old as my fellow students.

But it didn’t feel bold at the time. Why? Because I’d started the whole process with baby steps. I began by going to conferences, reading books, having discussions, meeting women already in ministry, working as a volunteer in leadership in my local church. None of that felt bold. I was taking a step here, a step there. Eventually, those steps led to a whole new life and a new way of defining and understanding myself.

If you look at where I was and where I am now, it might look kind of bold to you. But it never felt bold to me. It simply felt right. Where do you need to take a step today? What feels right to you?

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Diana Trautwein
Married to her college sweetheart for over 40 years, Diana is always wondering about things. She answers to Mom from their three adult kids and spouses and to Nana from their 8 grandkids, ranging in age from 3 to 22. For 17 years, after a mid-life call to ministry, she answered to Pastor Diana in two churches where she served as Associate Pastor. Since retiring at the end of 2010, she spends her time working as a spiritual director and writes on her blog, Just Wondering. For as long as she can remember, Jesus has been central to her story and the church an extension of her family. Not that either church or family is exactly perfect . . . but then, that’s what makes life interesting, right?
Diana Trautwein

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Diana Trautwein
  • The voice of the spiritual director is coming through in this lovely collection of words.
    I appreciate the insight that if we’re functioning within our calling, our actions may not feel bold — they just “feel right.”
    Lots for me to ponder here.
    Thanks, Diana.

    • pastordt

      Thank you, Michele, for your kind words, and for taking my words and taking them away to ponder. You do that pondering so very well!

  • sandyhay

    Natalie (granddaughter age 16) and I were discussing last night the lack of female leadership in the church. She can on longer go to youth group because her friends there don’t understand this. None had ever heard of International Women’s Day. I applaud the same women you listed…Idelette and her shelovlies and women I met at the Rise Up 2017 conversation …and you. Your words have me reflecting on the little steps I have taken and will continue to take. At times I want to leave my church for one that is more inclusive but I get that check I know is God. My little steps must also be for the women in my small group, I will continue to read them writings from this page plus whatever I feel bold (oh that word) enough to put in front of them. Thank you Diana for helping me push the envelope in my part of the word …no matter how subversive I have to be 🙂

    • pastordt

      If you can work for change from the inside, Sandy, keep doing it. That’s how it happens. Kudos to your granddaughter for seeing at such a young age how important it is to be all that she’s meant to be.

  • I love this encouraging reminder! We often think that we need to do something BIG to have an impact, but really it’s all of us working together with small steps that can move mountains. Thank you!

    • pastordt

      Exactly! One step at a time.

  • Helene Burns

    I love every word in this post – I want to stand at my computer and give you a standing ovation for every single step you have taken forward. You are SO inspiring to me and I know those who are in your immediate world must be so proud of you for taking bold and scary steps forward too.
    My husband often tells people when they are feeling overwhelmed or defeated in life, in their marriage, in their business…’there’s a miracle in a single step – take it’.
    Keep pushing forward – your beautiful life is making such a difference to so many. xo

    • pastordt

      You are one of the best cheerleaders I know, Helen! Thanks so much.

  • Yes! Sometimes I feel so unbold because I’m not doing BIG things. But, I am taking baby steps…. Thank you for this encouragement that the road to boldness starts with these small steps.

    • pastordt

      You’re welcome, Annie. Keep taking those baby steps.

  • You and I both have the same fear of sports with balls. LOL And you are so right. Being bold starts with small step and then another. Sometimes keeping diligent and focused on a goal over a long term is more bold than doing a big project quickly. Yay for all your small steps and accomplishments. And while you didn’t mean to, I am sure you have inspired more people than you can imagine.

  • pastordt

    Thanks so much, Theresa, for the sports solidarity! And the encouraging words. One step, one step – that’s how every journey starts . . .

  • Gwen Acres

    Thank you for opening the many doors to Bold. I have never felt bold in regards to myself. But I have been an Advocate. That is when I have felt right and strong, when others have needed me…my children, my patients and sometimes my friends. Righteous causes can bring that out in us. I will never forget the first time I heard you preach at MCC. You were Beautiful and Bold! i never would have imagined then it came from Baby Steps…

    • pastordt

      Thank you, Gwen. Most people don’t ever guess how frail I feel underneath that up-front persona. But frailty is an okay thing, I am discovering. It’s where we meet God best, I think. Baby steps are frail things, but they can take us to amazing places.

      • Gwen Acres

        Your beautiful, bright countenance and well chosen words are your outer armour, Diana. I am so thankful that all your baby steps have taken you on paths that bless me and so many!

        • pastordt

          Thank you, Gwen. 😍

  • Margie Bicknell

    Having watched you take those baby steps and then run the race set before you, I am encouraged to step out in my faith as well. Blessings and joy be with you as you walk with God.

    • pastordt

      Thank you, Margie. I learned a lot from watching you chase your dream, too, kiddo.

  • I love this Diana. Thank you for your words.

    • pastordt

      You’re very welcome, Jenny. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • This speaks so much to me–Diana; I raised my eyebrows a bit at the beginning where you felt you weren’t bold like your friend. I wouldn’t go kite-surfing either, but to my eyes, bucking hundreds of years of tradition and taboo to step up to the pulpit is the very definition of boldness. Sometimes we only see boldness with PHYSICAL acts, but the mental and social boldnesses we brave are just as daunting (and sometimes more so).

    • pastordt

      Why, thank you, Heather! Far more ‘scary’ to me was applying for seminary in the first place, to tell you the truth. For that one, I had to have several friends walk me into the admissions office with my packet!

  • Handsfull

    I completely agree. I’ve been surprised for years at people telling me I’m brave because of a bold decision I made and acted on. Surprised because it didn’t feel brave, it felt necessary. And it was the culmination of many, many baby steps. The other interesting thing is that to the people who were around me at the time, both the baby steps and the bold decision were completely wrong, and utterly alien to their way of thinking. I guess the bravery was in being willing to take the chance that they were all wrong, and that the voice inside me which had started out as a quiet whisper and was now shouting at me, was right. It was!

    • pastordt

      Ah, yes! Going against expectations requires boldness, that is for sure. Or against assumptions, or long-held but unreasonable belief systems. Thanks for listening to that small voice And for taking the baby steps that led to the big change.

  • Yes!! We go nowhere without small steps! And if we just keep making them, we’ll look up and be there! YES. This is great, thank you!