Authenticity and The Courage To Let Your Real Self Shine Through
The truth is, sometimes I’m not fine. There are moments my day hasn’t gone great, and yes, some days the weather really does stink.
That’s what I want to say at least, but I rarely do. How about you?
There are a lot of things about me I don’t say, many truths I keep tucked inside, hidden in the bottom drawer of my heart, for fear others wouldn’t want to hear about what’s really going on with me. Somehow I believe if I let them see the real me, they might think I’m crazy, too much to handle. Or they might just reject me altogether.
So I’ve learned to edit myself. If we’re honest, I think most of us edit ourselves. We’ve learned to do a fair job stitching together the prettiest sides of ourselves to show people while keeping the worn and ragged edges hidden out of sight. We pray no one will notice and try to convince ourselves our patchwork looks as good as new. As long as no one gets too close.
Up close is where the reality of our threadbare and disheveled selves might poke through. Where the tears, the insecurities, the pockets full of unworthiness spill their ugly selves onto our identity. It isn’t pretty.
The problem is, all the years I hid my truest self, all the years I kept everyone at arm’s length, I also kept the beauty of intimacy and vulnerability from ever reaching my impenetrable, fear-filled heart.
Relationship is the casualty of a guarded heart, the victim of pretense and shame.
Authenticity at its core is transparency and admission of failure. It's the rejection of insincerity and hypocrisy. It's truth-telling about all areas of life, even our soul spaces, where our greatest fears and sorrows reside.
Brene Brown describes authenticity as, the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.
Authenticity is a gift not just to ourselves, but to all of our relationships. Here are three ways you can start to cultivate authenticity and let your real self shine through.
1. Claim Your Belovedness
The more we as Christians own our worth based on God’s incredible love for us, the more we can begin to see ourselves as worthy, not based on performance, certainly not based on perfection, but based on position. Upon Whose we are. God’s beloved children.
Henri J.M. Nouwen describes, Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the "Beloved." Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence.
When our worth is based solely on other’s acceptance or approval, it is a roller-coaster waiting for the next dive. It is inconsistent at best, bumpy throughout, and at some point always crashes to a halt.
However, knowing ourselves and our worth as God’s beloved, in whom He delights, is the stongest foundation for each of us to grow curious, eager —to explore, to create, to dream, and possibly even to dare.
2. Resist The Urge To Strive
Striving is a lethal drug for a perfectionist. We remain almost helpless to resist its power, its compulsion to prove, to perform, to achieve. Yet striving will almost certainly destroy us from the inside out. It fills us with fear and empties us of any courage or creativity.
Striving has been one of the fiercest competitors throughout my life, and I would dare say, it has gotten the best of me many times in the past. What makes resisting the urge to strive so difficult is how intensely our culture celebrates it. We revere the pursuit of acquisition, we extol the virtue of accomplishment, and fantasize that rest is waiting for us just across the finish line. Until we cross the finish line, and realize that even here, there is no rest. Just another finish line, another demand, another task to prove our worth.
Martin Luther expressed, I have held many things in my hands, and have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.
Once our worth is settled, we can rest in believing whether we succeed or fail, whether we are celebrated or not, whether our ranking on amazon.com is at the top or on the bottom, we are enough. Period. Our performance is not attached to our worth.
3. Be More Emotionally Honest
No, that doesn’t mean to emotionally vomit on anyone and everyone with whom you come into contact. Emotional honesty simply means we become more intentional about accepting ourselves —our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, values, opinions, and perspectives —and we are not afraid to share appropriately and respectfully with those around us.
Psalm 32:1-2 (NLT) states, Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!
Do you share freely your opinions with others, even if they differ? Do you find yourself withholding your thoughts and feelings from the people around you? Is your highest priority not to do or say anything that might make people unhappy with you?
We can find healthy, compassionate ways to let our true selves shine through without being disrespectful or unkind. The more we feel worthy, the easier it is to risk potential ridicule or rejection from others because we don’t need their approval to feel good about ourselves.
Mother Teresa shares, Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway.
If you find yourself longing to let go of the façade, craving a place that is real, you can begin today to cultivate authenticity in your life.
Claim Your Belovedness. Your worth is settled.
Resist The Urge To Strive. You are enough.
Be More Emotionally Honest. Let the real you shine through.
Authenticity embraces our healing journey in its totality —the journey toward accepting who we are, toward becoming more courageous, toward embracing who we are not yet, but will one day be. The journey is beautiful, it is hopeful. It is Christ in us, the way of peace.
Lisa Murray is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, author, speaker, coffee lover, and wife. Her online community lisamurrayonline.com provides a compassionate place embrace peace in the midst of the stresses and struggles of life. In her new book, Peace for a Lifetime, Lisa Murray shares the keys to cultivating a life that’s deeply rooted, overflowing, and abundant, the fruit of which is peace. While she grew up in the Florida sunshine, she and her husband now live just outside Nashville in Franklin, TN. Peace for a Lifetime is available on Amazon.com. Visit her on Facebook and Twitter.
Image courtesy: ©Thinkstock/mavoimages
Publication date: September 25, 2017