“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” 2 Corinthians 5:1
Ever seen an “authentic” Chinese restaurant owned by a guy named Patrick O’Malley?
The “real deal” is hard to find these days . . . and equally hard to define. I've been doing a lot of pondering on the topic of authenticity or being “real” with myself lately.
Regardless, authenticity is a big deal to Jesus. And, oh man, this is a juicy one. But here goes. Knowing this of myself, it’s easy to get caught up in wondering, then, what it means to be an authentic Christian. Does it mean we should be flawless demonstrations of Jesus? If so, I certainly have no hope.
I am TERRIFIED of being exactly as I am. Whether it's fear of disappointing people we admire, fear of stigma, fear of rejection, or fear of my own self. I've been wanting to post about this for a while, but I think I've also been avoiding it. At the very least I've been procrastinating on writing this because I'm not entirely sure how to approach it. But here it goes anyway...take what resonates, leave the rest.....
Let me first say, I believe we are taught from a very young age to navigate life by meeting other people's expectations and approval. Starting from parents and family, moving through teachers, bosses, the list goes on and on. Our self-worth quickly gets tied up in how other people perceive and receive us, so naturally there is fear around authenticity. Especially when it reflects an aspect of the self which is perceived to (or potentially to) be ill received.
But what happens if we drop it all? All pretenses, all roles, all expectations of who we are supposed to be "for" others. Because here's the irony. We cannot control how we are perceived and received by others anyway, and yet, somehow often that's our standard. I would argue this, especially for women and minority groups. But I don't think men are immune to this either.
Too many women have taken the kind of harassment that our has doled out from the beginning of time, whether it be intentional or non-intentional, personal or societal, this kind of dis-respect for who we are can hardly be authentic. The same is true for those whose ethnicity is different from the “white Anglo-Saxon male” mentality and mores, which have more do with seeking of remaining in power as well as to mask our own feelings of self-worth. For when any person hides from themselves, hides from who they really are, from their true authenticity, they become enslaved to their own fear. This is especially true for those who want to remain as the majority and minimize other’s humanity or vocation. It is then they have to keep up the sham, living in the clutch of expectations themselves
I tell you what, though. I really don't know all that much in this world, but I am confident that we NEED more of YOU, EXACTLY as you are. A delightful bundle of delicious human imperfection. This world needs precisely what you are made of. Thankfully, God assures us that Christianity is not about perfection. Rather, it is about engaging in an honest process of becoming more like Jesus Christ.
So, allow yourselves the divine privilege of being who you are. “For in them I am well pleased.”
Go on. Try it on for size. See what it feels like on the inside. More authenticity. One baby step at a time. Be gentle with yourself. Be mindful of your experience. And love. Always love.
Kind of feels like freedom, doesn’t it? Yep, I thought it might ;)