I have a favorite word. There is basically no area of life that it can be applied to that I do not appreciate this word. My word is Organic. I love organic farming, organic cotton, organic toothpaste, organic clothing, organic fertilizer, even organic bed sheets! I love friendships and personal growth that happen organically and without force. Basically I love all things natural and real. I like things without manmade manipulation, things totally, truly who they are apart from alterations.
So believe me when I tell you how pumped I was to hear the phrase “live authentic” being spoken. And watching it be lived out was even more amazing! Lives being lived authentically! HECK YES! THIS IS WHAT I WANT! No more pretending, no more hiding tears, no more wearing clothes that were made THIS year, no more shaving beards because they look “unprofessional, no more marching to the status quo!
I was on board guys! I’m not a hater. But somewhere along the way, something started breaking down and I broke with it. Living authentic became a trend and a rationale for living selfishly, being real became an excuse for being wrong. It was no longer organic honestly but an art of self absorption. We painted that piece of art as best we could! And who could tell us if we were doing it wrong! After all, we are just being real, you can’t judge that!
I remember the day several months ago that my reality started shaking. I submitted a video application for a retreat that I wanted to go to. It was a creative, christian, gritty-real kind of place so I went with the “it’s just me” motto and did my video. I didn’t try very hard because that would be fake, I even joked about how bad the video was, and I let the “I don’t care that much”, “I’m a mess” me get recorded. I sent the video without any concern. If they liked it, cool. If not, well I was just being real, so forget them.
A few weeks later I got an email saying “We would love for you to resubmit your entire application. We would like to hear you clearly and confidently express your desire to come” or something like that.
Guys, this is where my worlds started to collide. I swore I would not redo it! That would be fake! I would not try to be something I was not. They didn’t like me for who I was. That’s okay, I didn’t care. But then truth started slipping in between the cracks and my world started shaking. I watched the video again and it was as if blinders had been taken off my eyes. Was that really me? That halfhearted, ashamed and fearful person hiding behind a “Live Authentic” motto? Was that “I don’t care” attitude just a way to cover my “I care so much it hurts” heart? Had I stopped just short of who I really was? Have we all?
Not too long ago people were walking around holding gifts in their arms and when asked “What is that?” they would say “This is wrapping paper!” We, the “Authentic livers” started whispering and then shouting “NO! There is more underneath that paper! Don’t sell yourself short, don’t pretend!” So we ripped the wrapping paper off and we held our gift up and we said “YOU SEE! THIS IS NOT WRAPPING PAPER! IT IS A BOX!!”
Friends, I think we are getting close but still missing it! There is something inside that box! Something beautiful and bold and loving and good. We did good by stripping away the paper, but if we stop here at the box, we will still never really reach the truth.
I am just going to say it out right my friends, shame and fear is not authentic. Selfishness & laziness is not genuine. Disrespect & disregard for rules is not being true to who we are. They are copouts. Yes, they are the box that we are struggling to escape from but they are not to be chosen as our identity. WE ARE SO MUCH MORE!
Let me pause here to clarify that I believe that we are absolutely and totally supposed to be open about our struggles and our battles! It is part of this journey we long to call honest! But the second we adopt those struggles as “who we are” we have already lost the battle. The purpose of ripping the paper and opening the box is to get to the gift inside! Lets be honest with how our life is falling apart but lets keep going and learn how much our life is worth!
I know the journey. I have walked it. I’ve gone from pretending that I was all good, to believing I was all bad. I have put on the mask of perfection and then crumbled under the belief that I was irreparably broken. I have tried and then given up and identified myself as a mess. All along I was just trying to define myself when all the while only God could see to the core of me. Only HE could see who I was, who He made me to be and what I was capable of. I thought that once I reached the “messed up me” that I had finally found the real me….but God was not done. He has shown me these truths-
He has given us a spirit of power and love and self control (2 Timothy 1:7)
We are more than conquerers (Rom 8:37)
We are no longer slaves but children of God (Gal 4:7)
I am no longer a slave to sin (Romans 6:6)
I am redeemed and forgiven (Eph 1:7)
I have boldness and confidence (Eph 3:12)
I am called to love (John 13:34)
I am called to rejoice (Phil 4:4)
WITH GOD ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE! (Matt 19:26)
If our most genuine and real life does not walk hand in hand with these truths, then we have not truly reached who we are. I am still all about living authentic, but I’ve realized that many of us have started using that as an excuse to live in defeat instead of the power of God! And I’m learning that only God can define truth for me and who I am. Only God can call out the lover and the fighter, the loved and the chosen daughter and son inside of us. Only God can teach us to live truly, absolutely, wholly, healthily, organically, beautifully, sustainably, passionately, messily yet victoriously authentic!
#Sidenote, my second video application was accepted and I went on to a retreat that changed my life. In fact, a lot of this blog post is a result of truth I learned there. I’m so thankful for those who call us out and say “I know you are more than that”.