I’ve recently been everywhere but here (home that is). Summer is just like that, I guess. Anyway, I continue to get comments and e-mails concerning my blog about authenticity a few months ago. There were some GREAT comments. I’m glad the subject struck a cord with so many of you. My hunch is that all of us long for true authenticity, if not in a large group, at least we long to be in relationship with a few people with whom we can be authentic.
It seems to me that our inauthenticity is breed out of fear. Fear that the real ‘me’ won’t be acceptable or loved or valued. We tell ourselves, “If I can be the smart one, the rich one, the funny one, the pretty one, the educated one, the well-dressed one, the iconoclast, the weirdo, or whatever else I choose to be then if people reject me then they are not really rejecting me, they’re rejecting the caricature that I project to the world.” I suppose that posture is insulating; it protects us. Here’s the problem though: We can get lost in that caricature and discover that we don’t or never knew ourselves, and/or we find out that we are standing alone in a crowd, which is to say, that no one knows us. I think that would be a terribly lonely feeling–standing alone in a crowd. Maybe this posture insulates us a little too much?
So what can we do to cure our leaning toward inauthenticity?
First, I think we need to discover that we are children of God. That’s all we are and all we will ever need to be! All of who we are is wrapped up in God. Only in identifying ourselves as children of God will we be able to let go of life’s comparison game and escape arrogance and self-deprecation. We have no other value outside being a child of God, which makes us eternally valuable. It also makes our neighbor–in the sense that Jesus uses the word “neighbor”,–eternally valuable as well. How we treat that “neighbor” reflects how we feel about the eternal value God has placed in us. We can’t live as children of God and treat ourselves or others the same.
Second, allow people who don’t like you to not like you. Trust me, a lot of people don’t like me. I’m okay with it! Really. I have decided not to turn my core identity off and on depending on who is in the room. That’s not to say we should be brash or abrasive, but rather it is to allow ourselves the freedom of not bowing to everyone’s perceptions and opinions (think of what that might do for politicians alone). I remember what former basketball-player, Charles Barkley, said to younger player once. Barkley told him not to worry about the crowds, the fans, and the media because “those people don’t love you.” How true that is. Many people spend much of their lives dancing for the applause of a bunch of people who don’t and won’t ever love them. Doesn’t it make more sense to live your life performing for the One who does?
Third, we all need a lot more time alone, listening to our deepest desires in quiet. Life is just too loud and too busy! In the quiet, God begins to speak to us, raise up and heal our deepest wounds and tell us who we really are. If you want to know who you really are, spend a few days in the quiet with God and dare ask him to tell you why He made you.
I suspect, if all of us spent the next year just asking God, “Who am I?” then many of our false fronts and inauthenticity might fall away. What do you think?