We’ve created a “fake it ‘til you make it”, filter-loving, comparison-driven society that cries out for authenticity but then invests in music, arts, ministers, leaders, and movements that don’t align internally with they speak out externally. Shoot we don’t even seem to know what we want when you look at our own statemetns and compare them with our actions.
We say we want closer relationships but then ignore people we get together with so we can look through the screens at what everyone else is doing.
We say we feel alone and post about it to our 3,000 followers and 2,735 Facebook friends but don’t take anyone up on their offers to get together.
We say we want quality but then we spend extra time searching for the cheapest deal and trying to short change other people for their services, or trying to get them to do it for free.
We say we value people but we take advantage of everyone we know so we can get further ahead.
We say we want authenticity but we don’t want to be ourselves. We spend most of our lives wanting to keep up with others or be like the next person. It’s like we don’t like who we are so we try to become someone else not realizing if we would just be ourselves the people who should be around us will be.
After researching and observing people and these trends within and outside the church over the past years, I have some thoughts about it.
1. If you are yourself the people around you the most will actually be people who really like you.
I have some associates who are are arrogant and speak down to others as a way to make themselves feel better. They aren’t comfortable within their own skin and where they are in life so they lie about their accomplishment and what they’ve overcome because it helps them portray a certain image that feeds their need for attention. I know this about them since they are true to who they are in this sense, therefore, I’m not shocked when they act that way. Since they are able to admit this is their struggle, I can make a choice about the time I spend with them. I’m not afraid of a wolf that looks like a wolf; it’s not a danger to me. But a wolf dressed like a sheep has only one reason to come near me…that is the animal I am more watchful of.
Just be who you are. Are you a person who always complains? Let it be. Complain away. And as people leave, you’ll know who isn’t up for it. Those who stay are your tribe. Are you a person who has to be center of attention? Go for it! You’ll know who can’t handle it when you aren’t invited places that are low key or where everyone should get a turn to speak. It’s okay. Accept it and own it. Only change who you are if it bothers you and causes you pain. Don’t do it for others. The right people are the ones who are with us despite our flaws, and love us because of them.
2. If you’re going to make a platform saying you’re one thing but live in the shadows as another, you will eventually be caught out. Instead of hiding, have you even wondered how many people you could influence and help if you’d just be true to yourself?
There are some I know who are one public persona and a completely different person behind closed doors. I even know some folks who are different ways with different groups of people, and not meaning like chameleons who can blend in with any crowd while still being themselves but meaning super spiritual with one group while parting away and using drugs with another.
I found it to be a breath of fresh air when a young adult I met told me her struggles up front and said, “I’m going to have times I ask you to pray for me and I know that I am not going to heed any of the prayer but continue on with a night of parting and sex. It’s just where I am right now. But if you can love me through it and help me figure out why I’m there, I believe one night you’ll pray and something will stop me from leaving the house.” She was right. It took six months but the people around her who watched her journey first hand were inspired and able to overcome their own demons because of her honesty each step of the way. She never said she was okay when she was hungover or coming from a walk of shame. She never lied to anyone and it caused a lot of heartburn for some. But today she is a leader who has written some great books, encouraged some wonderful teen groups to become contributing members of society, and helped many people bound by their past become free to walk in their present.
Be honest with people about who and what you are and you will help more people than you hurt. People are hurt by expectations they set based upon who you pretend to be. They have no reason to think you’re pretending in the beginning. The hurt comes as they realize you aren’t who you portrayed yourself to be.
3. It’s okay to be struggling with who you are and why you are here. Our world is filled with people asking themselves this same question daily. Even some of the people we look up to struggle with identity at times.
We all have seasons where we are growing and we accelerate beyond what we were truly comfortable growing and it becomes hard for us to believe we are who we are. This is especially true for those who come into relationship with Christ and have powerful transformation encounters. I’ve seen it across all ages and went through it myself from 17-24. When you’ve lived a hard life and have been a disgusting, rotten person by your own admission, when you’ve been angry most of your life, when you’ve not been a person who others wanted around, it is super understandable that you would question how real the transformation is when it seems to come so quickly. Only you will know because only you are with yourself 24-7. Children are good are humbling you and keeping you honest but even they only see you so much.
It’s okay to ask questions and wonder if your change is authentic. If you truly have a changed heart. It’s a confusing thing when you go from feeling only hate and anger to wanting to show love to others and help them never feel what you have. It’s natural to wonder. But don’t let your struggle turn into self-sabotage. Don’t go back to old ways because they are more comfortable for you than opening up to these new emotions and experiences.
Outside the church and relationships with Christ there are times you’re promoted to new positions or levels of authority in a job or social group. Don’t let the new responsibility cause you to think you’re incapable. Thee are many people who sit at tables they don’t belong at because of something someone saw within them. Some people are great at spotting the diamonds making the duds. Don’t self-sabotage; instead let their belief in you filed you to go further.
We are all here for a purpose and we all have something to offer others. Let’s start being what we ask others to be to us and crest a society that isn’t so double minded and shallow. Together we can make a difference. It starts with each one of us making a choice to be in public who we are in private.